Stories Behind Doors, The Gambia

The gate to the compound of the late Omar Barrow, shot dead by Gambian security forces in 2009. Image © Helen Jones-Florio
The gate to the compound of the late Omar Barrow who was shot dead by Gambian security forces in 2009. Image © Helen Jones-Florio

Stories Behind Doors, The Gambia: Behind this gate is the family compound of ‘the late Omar Barrow’ (which, when asking for directions, is how the house is described by neighbours). On April 10, 2000 – Omar, a journalist, and International Community Red Cross volunteer, was shot by a uniformed member of Gambia’s security forces during student protests, as he was trying to help injured students at the Red Cross Headquarters. Tragically, he was pronounced dead a few hours later at Banjul’s Victoria Hospital. Omar was 28 years old. He is survived by his wife, Awa, and daughter, Fatou (who was only a few months old when her father was killed) – who we met and photographed for our on-going multi-media series, ‘Gambia – victims, and resisters

#StoriesBehindDoors

Photographer, Jason Florio, makes a portrait of Awa Barrow, holding a phone picture of her husband, Omar Barrow, who was shot dead by Gambian security forces, on April 10, 2000, during student protests in The Gambia. Omar's daughter, Fatou, looks on. She was only a few months old when her father was killed. His mother sits in the background. Image ©Helen Jones-Florio
Photographer, Jason Florio, makes a portrait of Awa Barrow, holding a phone picture of her husband, Omar Barrow, who was shot dead by Gambian security forces, on April 10, 2000, during student protests in The Gambia. Omar’s daughter, Fatou, looks on. She was only a few months old when her father was killed. His mother sits in the background. Image ©Helen Jones-Florio

#NeverAgainGambia

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Photo of the Day: Edward Singhateh testifies at the TRRC, The Gambia

Edward David Singhateh testifies before the Truth, Reconciliation, and Reparations Commission (TRRC), The Gambia, West Africa ©Jason Florio

“I’m in the hot seat, right now” Edward David Singhateh, former junta Vice Chairman 

“It’s not that hot…yet!” Essa M.Faal, Lead Counsel , Truth Reconciliation, and Reparations Commission (TRRC)

Wednesday 16th October 2019- Day 1: Edward David Singhateh‘s testimony begins at the TRRC, The Gambia, West Africa. Singhateh, one of the instigators of the July 22nd, 1994, coup d’état with Yahya Jammeh, has been implicated in the mass execution of counter-coup army officers on November 11th, 1994. Singhateh has also been named in the murder of the former Finance Minister, Ousman Koro Ceesay, who was killed in June of 1995

The Gambia – victims, and resisters

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Young Gambian men watching Edward David Singhateh testify before the Truth, Reconciliation, and Reparations Commission (TRRC), The Gambia, West Africa ©Helen Jones-Florio

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The Gambia: Portraits of survivors of Yahya Jammeh’s HIV/AIDS ‘cure’ treatment ©Jason Florio

Fatou Jatta survivour of President Yahya Jammeh's HIV/AIDS 'cure' program - portrait ©Jason Florio #Portraits4PositiveChange, The Gambia
Fatou Jatta – survivor of Yahya Jammeh’s HIV/AIDS ‘cure’ program, The Gambia – portrait ©Jason Florio #Portraits4PositiveChange

“From the time I started the concoction, I got weaker and weaker, my condition got worse. After July, I went to the MRC – which had been my treatment centre – and tested. My CD4 count had dropped to 80 – a threat to me, anything can happen” Fatou Jatta, survivor Jammeh’s HIV/AIDS ‘cure’ program and Member of the Santa Yalla Support Society

‘Gambia – victims, and resisters

In 2007, then President of The Gambia, Yahya Jammeh, announced that he could cure HIV/AIDS with his secret herbal concoction. Jammeh ‘invited’ (under his harsh dictatorship, many survivors say that they were coerced) Gambians living with HIV and AIDS into his Presidential Alternative Treatment Programme. He also ordered them to stop taking antiretroviral drugs, which in some cases proved fatal – as in the case of Lamin Moko Ceesay’s (pictured below) wife who died as a result of stopping her antiretroviral drugs on the orders of Jammeh, when she took part in his treatment program.

Also, without the consent of the patients, Jammeh’s administration of his herbal ‘cure’ was often televised to the nation.

Lamin Ceesay - took part in Yahya Jammeh AIDS/HIV herbal 'cure' trials, the Gambia - portrait ©Jason Florio
Lamin Moko Ceesay – took part in Yahya Jammeh AIDS/HIV herbal ‘cure’ trials, the Gambia – portrait ©Jason Florio #Portraits4PositiveChange, The Gambia

UPDATE SEPTEMBER 2019: AIDSFREEWOLD: The survivors filed complaints with The Gambia Medical and Dental Council against Dr. Tamsir Mbowe and Dr. Malick Njie, both of whom served at different points as Jammeh’s Minister of Health. Fatou Jatta, Ousman Sowe, and Lamin “Moko” Ceesay signed the complaint against Dr. Mbowe; Fatou Jatta filed the complaint against Dr. Njie. (Read the letters here.) The survivors are supported in their actions by AIDS-Free World, the Gambia-based Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA), and Combeh Gaye of the Gambian law firm Antouman A.B. Gaye & Co.

‘Gambia – victims, and resisters

Ousman Sowe, survivour of President Yahya Jammeh's HIV/AIDS 'cure' program - portrait ©Jason Florio #Portraits4PositiveChange, The Gambia
‘Musa’, survivor of President Yahya Jammeh’s HIV/AIDS ‘cure’ program –
portrait ©Jason Florio #Portraits4PositiveChange, The Gambia

#Portraits4PositiveChange

‘Gambia – victims, and resisters’ is a multi-media work-in-progress series – portraits and filmed testimonies by Jason Florio and Helen Jones-Florio. To date, the portraits have been exhibited at The Gambia Center for Victims of Human Rights Violations, and at the British High Commissioners Residence, Banjul, and at the Truth, Reconciliation, Reparations Commission (TRRC). See a selection of the portraits on Jason Florio’s website floriophoto.com

Portraits for Positive Change - at the TRRC Gambia ©Jason Florio
‘Portraits for Positive Change’ at the TRRC – donated by the British High Commission, The Gambia ©Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio

#Portraits4PositiveChange

Jason Florio making #Portraits4PositiveChange, the Gambia ©Helen Jones-Florio.
Jason Florio making #Portraits4PositiveChange, the Gambia ©Helen Jones-Florio.

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Interviewing sole survivor of a massacre, Ghanaian, Martin Kyere ©Jason Florio

Interviewing Martin Kyere, Ghana, Image © Jason Florio

Interviewing sole survivor of a massacre, Ghanaian, Martin Kyere. Martin was one of a group of over 50 West African migrants, who were endeavouring to reach Europe when the boat they boarded in Senegal veered off course and landed in The Gambia.

#Portraits4PositiveChange

According to recent witness testimonies by members of President Yahya Jammeh’s hit squad, ‘the Junglers’, at the Truth Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) in The Gambia, they revealed that the mass execution was ordered by Jammeh himself after the migrants were accused of being mercenaries trying to overthrow the government. 

Gambia – victims, and resisters’

The portrait of Martin was taken as part of an on-going series: ‘Gambia – victims, and resisters’ – whilst filming a documentary for an NGO in Ghana.

Photographer, Jason Florio, making #Portraits4PositiveChange, the Gambia, West Africa © Helen Jones-Florio
Photographer, Jason Florio, making #Portraits4PositiveChange, the Gambia, West Africa © Helen Jones-Florio

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