Gambia Photography Exhibition opening night: ‘Portraits to Remember’ -victims, and resisters

Dr. Baba Galleh Jallow – executive secretary of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC), The Gambia. Image © Jason Florio

March 5th, 2019 – opening night of ‘Portraits to Remember’ at the Gambia Centre for Victims of Human Rights Violations, the Gambia.

Jason Florio’s portraits, featured in the exhibition, are part of an on-going body of work which began over two years ago when he photographed Gambians who had exiled themselves, in fear of their lives, from the brutal regime of former Gambian President, Yahya Jammeh.

Victim of rape and beatings by Gambian security forces, The Gambia - portrait by Jason Florio
Bintu was detained for five days, beaten and raped by three masked security officers at the Gambia Police Intervention Unit (PIU) HQ, after being arrested during a May 9th 2016 rally to demand the release of illegally detained protesters from previous rallies held on April 15th/16th, 2016. When asked if she would prefer that we keep her identity anonymous her adamant reply was “No, this was done to me, and I want justice…these men should be punished” From the series ‘Gambia – Victims and Resisters of a Regime‘ ©Jason Florio

‘Gambia – Victims and Resisters of a Regime’

Oumie Jagne was shot twice in the arm by Gambian security forces during a peacful protests by students on April 10th 2000 © Jason Florio Gambia
Oumie Jagne was shot twice in the arm by Gambian security forces during a peacful protests by students on April 10th 2000 © Jason Florio

Oumie Jagne was shot twice in the arm by former Gambian President Yahya Jammeh’s security forces after she was caught up in student protests in April 10/11 2000. She was at her small shop when the shooting of unarmed students began and attempted to help a young girl who had been shot in the foot. While pulling the girl to safety, Oumie was fired upon and suffered life-changing injuries, almost severing her left arm. She is one of hundreds of victims registered at the Gambia Centre for Victims of Human Rights Violations.

#Portraits4PositiveChange

Opening night photography exhibition – portraits by Jason Florio. Image ©Jason Florio
Kafo Bayo (pictured below, at the exhibition opening night, seated below his portrait) was part of the April 14th, 2016 peaceful protest lead by Solo Sandeng for electoral reform. Bayo along with a number of other demonstrators was held for eight months subjected to torture and abuse by President Jammeh’s security forces, including being bound face down on a table and beaten by masked men Former seaman, masoner and political activist Kafo Bayo was arrested, tortured and jailed at Mile 2 prison after being arrested during the April 14th 2016 protests for electoral reform in the Gambia. From the series ‘Gambia – Victims and Resisters of a Regime‘  © Jason Florio

 ‘Gambia – Victims, and Resisters of a Regime’

From 1994 -2017 President Yahya Jammeh ruled the Gambia, West Africa, as his own personal fiefdom, crushing dissent, and opposition, with brutality.

His personal hit squad and intelligence agency carried out tortures, and assassinations with impunity – journalists were gunned down and disappeared, ministers were jailed, students shot in cold blood, and even his own brother and sister were murdered on his orders.

Journalist wearing a t-shirt with the face of assassinated journalist and co-founder of The Point newspaper Deyda Hydara. Hydara was an advocate of press freedom and a fierce critic of the government of President Yahya Jammeh, who was openly hostile to Gambian journalists and the media. Hydara was gunned down by assailants in his car as he was returning from work in 2004. From the series ‘Gambia – Victims and Resisters of a Regime‘  ©Jason Florio
Helen Jones-Florio talks with representatives of TRIAL International at the exhibition opening night, about her work on the portrait project with Jason. Image © Jason Florio.

With Jammeh’s 2016 election defeat, he went into exile after a standoff with regional forces, and the victims of his regime started to come forward.

So far, almost 1000 victims and their families have registered with the Gambia Centre for Victims of Human Rights Violations to share their stories and help build international support to bring Jammeh to justice

Opening night photography exhibition: Three of the subjects of – Jason Florio’s portraits. Image ©Jason Florio
For three days I did not know who I was…where I was. My clothes, they looked like, you know, like a butchers… (covered in blood) Kafo Bayo
Left: Photographer, Jason Florio, with some of the victims and resister who are portrayed in his photography on exhibit. Image © Helen Jones-Florio.
Ya Mammie Ceesay stands next to Jason Florio’s portrait of her. Image © Jason Florio.

Ya Mammie Ceesay, mother of disappeared Gambian-American businessman Alhaji Mamut Ceesay. Alhaji returned to the Gambia in 2013 with his friend Ebou Jobe to set up a business, but they were allegedly robbed of their money by National Intelligence Agency heads, who later told President Jammeh the businessmen were in the Gambia to overthrow his regime. The two were then allegedly murdered on Jammeh’s command.

Sharon Wardle, the British High Commissioner to The Gambia, with Ayeshah Jammeh (also one of the subjects of Jason Florio’s portraits of victims and resisters of a regime), one of the founder of the Gambia Centre for Victims of Human Rights Violations. Image ©Jason Florio.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words – compelling images & personal accounts at the Gambia Centre for Victims of Human Rights Violations – “Portraits to Remember” exhibition. Sharon Wardle, British High Commissioner to The Gambia

To see more from Jason Florio’s series, please visit the website ‘Gambia – Victims and Resisters of a Regime‘, a work-in-progress with Helen Jones-Florio.

 

Jason Florio’s work is towards under-reported stories about people living on the margins of society and human rights. His work has been recognised with a number of awards, including The Magnum Photography Award 2017 for his work on migration. He was the first recipient of the Aperture Foundation grant to produce Aperture’s first ever assigned story, ‘This is Libya’. His work is held in a number of public and private collections and has been presented in solo and joint exhibitions in USA, Europe, Asia, and Africa.

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2019 – Currently working on

Gambia – Victims, and Resisters of a Regime

#Portraits4PositiveChange

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Helen Jones-Florio & Jason Florio, standing in front of the banner for the exhibition, outside the Gambia Centre for Victims of Human Rights Violations, the Gambia. Image by Buba Bah.
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Gambia documentary screening at Pan African Film & Arts Festival, 2019, LA

"We Never Gave Up: Stories of Courage in Gambia" free doc screening, Aug 13th, London. Poster Image © Helen Jones-Florio (inside Mile2 prison) "We Never Gave Up: Stories of Courage in Gambia" free doc screening, Aug 13th, London. Image © Helen Jones-Florio (inside Mile2 prison)
We Never Gave Up – Stories of Courage in Gambia

 

Gambia documentary screening at Pan African Film & Arts Festival - still from: Free Screening, london, documentary 'We Never Gave Up - stories of courage in Gambia' Amnesty International
Free Screening ‘We Never Gave Up – stories of courage in Gambia’ Amnesty International – still image ©Helen Jones-Florio (exclusive images from inside the maximum security wing, 2018, Mile2 Prison)

 

Gambia documentary screening at Pan African Film & Arts Festival – We are honoured to have ‘We Never Gave Up – Stories of Courage in Gambia‘, made for Amnesty International, chosen to be shown in its entirety at the 27th PAFF, Los Angeles, CA, February 7-18, 2019 (screening times to be confirmed)

We believe film and art can lead to better understanding and foster communication between peoples of diverse cultures, races, and lifestyles, while at the same time serve as a vehicle to initiate dialogue on the important issues of our times. PAFF.

Gambia documentary screening at Pan African Film & Arts Festival - Still from 'We Never Gave Up' Imam Baba Leigh, The Gambia - portrait ©Jason Florio
Still from ‘We Never Gave Up’ Imam Baba Leigh who was arrested, disappeared, and tortured, for 5 months, The Gambia – portrait ©Jason Florio.

Gambia documentary screening at Pan African Film & Arts Festival

Once the screening has taken place, we will post a link to view the full documentary. In the meantime, the trailer can be seen here.

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Jason Florio is currently working on ‘Gambia – Victims and Resisters of a Regime‘ making portraits and filming testimonies, with Helen Jones-Florio.

#Portraits4PositiveChange

From 1994 -2017 President Yahya Jammeh ruled the Gambia, West Africa, as his own personal fiefdom, crushing dissent, and opposition, with brutality.

His personal hit squad and intelligence agency carried out tortures, and assassinations with impunity – journalists were gunned down and disappeared, ministers were jailed, students shot in cold blood, and even his own brother and sister were murdered on his orders.

With Jammeh’s 2016 election defeat, he went into exile after a standoff with regional forces, and the victims of his regime started to come forward.

So far, over 1000 victims and their families have registered with the Gambia Centre for Victims of Human Rights Violations to share their stories and help build international support to bring Jammeh to justice

This is a work in progress in collaboration with the GCHRV.

 

Bintu was detained and raped by 3 masked security officers - Gambia victims and resisters portraits ©Jason Florio
Bintu was detained and raped by 3 masked security officers – Gambia-Victims and Resisters of a Regime. Portraits ©Jason Florio.

 

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‘Gambia – Victims and Resisters of a Regime’ Update

‘Gambia – Victims, and Resisters  of a Regime’ 

#Portraits4PositiveChange

 

We’ve been busy these last couple of months, working predominantly on the portraits of victims and resisters in our second home of The Gambia. This is a work-in-progress, which we began two years ago. We also got asked to make a documentary for Amnesty International, which should be available to view in its entirety next month. See the trailer on our Vimeo page.

Along with making the portraits, we are filming the testimonies of all the victims and resisters of the Yahya Jammeh 22 year regime. More on this at a later date.

 

Gambia Victims and Resisters of a Regime – ©Jason Florio, the Gambia
Dodou Sanyang, Gambia – portrait ©Jason Florio.

 

Dodou Sanyang in the room of his recently deceased mother. She was one of over a thousand elderly people abducted on the order of the former president, Yahya Jammeh in 2009. Groups of Jammeh’s paramilitary troops along with his youth brigade, The Green Boys and ‘magicians’ from Guinea went from village to village as part of a nationwide hunt for witches.

The alleged witches were held for up to five days in secret locations and made to drink ‘Kubehjaro’, a hallucinogenic substance, and then forced to confess to witchcraft. Some were also severely beaten and robbed by their captors. Some died at the detention sites, and others like Sanyang’s mother suffered years of illness before dying. Many in Sanyang’s village believe the elderly there were not targeted for witchcraft, but because the village had been an opposition stronghold –  Essau, Northbank Division, The Gambia. Image ©Jason Florio.

Oumie Jagne was shot twice in the arm by Gambian security forces during a peacful protests by students on April 10th 2000 © Jason Florio Gambia
Oumie Jagne, Gambia – portrait © Jason Florio.

 

Oumie Jagne was shot twice in the arm by Jammeh regime security forces after she was caught up in the student protests of April 10/11 2000. She was at her small shop when the shooting of unarmed students began and attempted to help a young girl who had been shot in the foot. While pulling the girl to safety, Oumie was fired upon and suffered life-changing injuries, almost severing her left arm. She is one of over 1000 victims registered at the Gambia Centre for Victims of Human Rights Violations – Bakau, The Gambia. Image ©Jason Florio.

‘Gambia – Victims, and Resisters  of a Regime’ 

See more from this on-going series of portraits on Jason Florio’s website floriophoto.com

follow our hashtag campaign #Portraits4PositiveChange

 

E-Presiden, Yahya Jammeh, leaves the Gambia - 21/1/207 ©Jason Florio

 

From 1994 -2017 President Yahya Jammeh ruled the Gambia, West Africa, as his own personal fiefdom, crushing dissent, and opposition, with brutality.

“I will rule for a billion years if Allah wills it” Yahya Jammeh

His personal hit squad and intelligence agency carried out tortures, and assassinations with impunity – journalists were gunned down and disappeared, ministers were jailed, students shot in cold blood, and even his own brother and sister were murdered on his orders.

Gambia Has Decided

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Instagram - images © Jason Florio
Instagram – @JasonFlorio.

 

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Instagram @floriotravels. Images © Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio
Instagram © Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio.

 

If you would like to know how you can help us to make more #Portraits4PositiveChange, please check out our GoFundMe page.

More updates, coming soon

Helen Jones-Florio & Jason Florio.

Jason Florio / Helen Jones-Florio, Essau, The Gambia. Image courtesy Madi Sonko
Jason Florio / Helen Jones-Florio, Essau, The Gambia. Image courtesy Madi Sonko

 

 

Jason Florio – making #Portraits4PositiveChange, The Gambia

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

 

‘Gambia – Victims, and Resisters of a Regime’ 

#Portraits4PositiveChange

 

From 1994 -2017 President Yahya Jammeh ruled the Gambia, West Africa, as his own personal fiefdom, crushing dissent, and opposition, with brutality.

His personal hit squad and intelligence agency carried out tortures, and assassinations with impunity – journalists were gunned down and disappeared, ministers were jailed, students shot in cold blood, and even his own brother and sister were murdered on his orders.

With Jammeh’s 2016 election defeat, he went into exile after a standoff with regional forces, and the victims of his regime started to come forward.

So far, over 1000 victims and their families have registered with the Gambia Centre for Human Rights Violations to share their stories and help build international support to bring Jammeh to justice

This is a work in progress in collaboration with the GCHRV

 

Portraits4PositiveChange, Gambia - Ami Bayo ©Jason Florio
Portrait of Ami Bayo, the Gambia ©Jason Florio.

 

See more from ‘Gambia – Victims and Resisters of a Regime’ by Jason Florio on his website floriophoto.com. Find out how you can be part of #Portraits4PositiveChange on our GoFundMe page.

Wishing you all a happy and peaceful 2019

Helen Jones-Florio & Jason Florio 

Jason Florio / Helen Jones-Florio, Essau, The Gambia. Image courtesy Madi Sonko
Essau, The Gambia. Image courtesy Madi Sonko, Dec 2018

 

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