A Gambian soldier Lamin Jarju says he has regretted becoming a soldier.  Staff Sergeant Jarju was speaking on Monday at Gambia’s TRRC. This followed what Jarju called the disturbing conduct of some TRRC workers. Jarju said while he was in the office one of the TRRC Counsels Sargarr, he heard the TRRC staff  trash talking the testimony of soldier Lamin Sillah, who had earlier called on the Commission to investigate the 1997 rebellion attack on the Farafenni barracks, which had left some soldiers dead. Sillah has also called on the Commission to investigate the Kartong attack, and the failed 2014 coup, that was organized by some Gambians in the diaspora. “In putting more lights on what the last person has said here, that is witness Lamin Sillah, he said about soldiers who passed away, this is a cause for concern to all the soldiers. We want the TRRC to invite the wives of the death soldiers, who were either slaughtered, massacred, or they are dead in the convoy. Let them give them a chance to be heard, as they did in other people’s wives. If they don’t come here, we will not know how they feel, and their husbands died for this country,” Jarju said.  

Jarju, who calls for national reconciliation during his testimony, remarked that having the wives of the fallen soldiers, should be part of the reconciliation process. He maintains that the soldiers’ wives deserved to be heard by the Commission.

“I am appealing to the TRRC, that they have made everything clear here on the ground, except one thing that I want them to observe about. The 1994 coup was clearly spelt out here, the November 11 foiled coup was clearly spelt out, but the coup of 2014 December, was not clearly spelt out. We want to know who  caused it and who are the pioneers and the country’s involved because if they could have succeeded, we would have been victims. So, definitely it is a cause for concern for us to know,” he said.

“Mr. Commissioner, I wish I can hold the Koran, so that everybody will believe what I am coming to say here. Mr. Commissioner, I wish I can hold the Koran, so that everybody will believe what I am coming to say here.  When Lamin Sillah gave his last remarks here, I was with Counsel Sagarr in her office. I did not hear about Lamin Sillah’s testimony, but I heard it from members of the TRRC. I heard them saying, listen to Lamin Sillah’s last words testimony. He is talking about Farafenni, and Kartong, that what he talked about was the TRRC’s business. I felt sad. I regretted why I became a soldier that day. From that day, up to today, I could not sleep because I know the essence of this uniform, it is to die for this country and nothing more. Be rest assured Gambians, we take this oath to save this country, and to this country, we shall die for. I am sorry if I may wrong anyone. Thank you very much to the TRRC members,” he added.

The TRRC lead Counsel Essa Faal was quick to counter Jarju, by stating that Jarju’s request wasn’t part of the TRRC’s operational terms of reference. Faal says the TRRC has been tasked to investigate human rights violations during Jammeh’s rule.

“The TRRC agenda was set by a National legislation and that is what we go by and not the dictates or wishes of an individual. And the Commission has already identified the issues it would look into and it would continue to do so according to the rules that have been established by the Commission. This is supposed to be an inquiry into human rights violations. It is not an investigation for those whose husbands died in their line of duty. So, therefore, if the investigation does not incorporate that they should understand that it is simply because those are not human rights violations,” Faal remarked.

The TRRC head Dr. Lamin Cise thanked Faal for his politeness in handling Jarju’s testimony. “Counsel you are kind and polite to respond to these issues that were raised out here,” Cise said.

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