One of the survivors in the 2005 massacre of the West African migrants in The Gambia, has today begun giving evidence before the TRRC. Martin Kyere was flown to Banjul to give evidence. Kyere managed to escape from Jammeh’s guards, who captured him and his co migrants for execution. Over 60 migrants mainly from Ghana, Senegal, Togo, Congo, Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone were massacred. They were mistaken as rebels bent on overthrowing dictator Jammeh’s rule.
Human Rights Watch and right groups in Ghana have been calling for the prosecution of Jammeh for crimes against humanity. Jammeh has been living in exile in Equatorial Guinea since January of 2017.
In his testimony, Kyere, who identified himself as a shoemaker, gave a detailed account as to how they landed in the hands of Jammeh’s trigger happy murderous soldiers prior to the grand style execution of his captured colleagues.
It was back in July 22nd 2005, coinciding with the so-called commemoration of Jammeh’s military coup, when Kyere and co were captured. Kyere said they were rounded up at the shores of the Barra coastal fishing town, placed in Navy boats and escorted to the capital city Banjul.
Their journey to Banjul was marred by constant beatings, as they were in handcuffs. Soldiers assaulted them while being escorted.
Kyere and his colleagues first met in Dakar, with the hope that they could travel to Europe through the perilous back way journey. But they later got stranded in The Gambia.
What happened later, the police, Jammeh’s brutal NIA and other security agents paid them a visit on the shore of the Barra coast. They were briefly processed at the Barra police station before being transported to Banjul.
Kyere said when they got to Banjul, they were picked up by a bus and transported to the Greater Banjul Area. He was detained at the Bundung police station together with other migrant detainees. The other migrants were held in other police stations.
Kyere recalled the night that they were taken from their cells at the Bundung police and taken to a private residential home in the KMC. Soldiers armed with cutlasses and guns visited them at that residence. They were stripped naked and placed in a waiting pickup truck, with their hands and necks tied with a wire, and dumped into the truck.
One of the migrants, who complained about the pain he suffered while being transported, was chopped with a cutlass on his back by one of the soldiers, he said.
Kyere was able to loosen the wire that was tied on his hand. He managed to escape, amid a wild goose chase by Jammeh’s soldiers. He only had his pants at this time. He spent four nights in the forest without food. He capitalized on fruits that he could lay his hands to keep himself alive.
Kyere later found himself in neighboring Casamance, where, he was processed by the Gendamerie, before his subsequent return to Ghana. He stayed in Dakar, but he was told that it wasn’t safe for him to live there-given the proximity of the two countries. He had to relocate and returned to his native country Ghana.
In the aftermath of the executions, Jammeh gave $500,000 dollars to the Ghanaian bereaved families. Kyere felt that Jammeh’s gesture was an insult to the deaths. He wants Jammeh to face justice.
Written By Pa Nderry M’Bai