Exactly seventeen years ago today since sixteen young Gambian students lives were cut short by the crackle of machine-gun fire. On 10 and 11 April 2000, Gambian students held a demonstration to protest against the alleged murder of Ebrima Barry and the rape of a Brikamaba school girl, the Gambia Government immediately started accusing them of being used by some opponents of the regime to stage the demonstration. 14 students were massacred. This event still fresh in the minds of most Gambians is undoubtedly one of the saddest days in Gambian history.
The Gambian security forces fired live ammunition on student protesters resulting in the death of 14 students, a Red Cross volunteer/radio journalist, and a three-year-old that was hit by a stray bullet. and also injuring dozens more, Police prevented Gambians from entering the local hospital to identify the dead. Hundreds of others were injured. President Jammeh was accused of ordering the shooting of the students, but the government denied the allegations. A government commission of inquiry reportedly concluded that the Police Intervention Unit (PIU) officers were “largely responsible” for many of the deaths and other injuries. The inquiry also revealed that five soldiers of the 2nd Infantry Battalion were responsible for the deaths of two students at Brikamaba. The government stated that the report implicated several PIU officers in the students’ deaths and injuries, yet those responsible have never been brought to book.
The vice president at that time, Isatou Njie-Saidy and former secretary of state for the Interior, Ousman Badjie, went further to say on national radio and television that the shooting, which led to the death of over a dozen demonstrators ‘started from within the demonstrators themselves since the security forces deployed to quell the demonstrators only had blank ammunition, tear gas, batons, and shields at the time.’
Many opposition supporters mainly from the United Democratic Party (UDP) were arrested and detained at various police stations across the country. Among them was the late Buba Samura, National Assembly member for Kiang East.
Also to this day, the Families of the victims have never been compensated by Jammeh’s Government. Even a remembrance day was forbidden.
Names of the Victims:
1. Reginald Carroll
2. Karamo Barrow
3. Lamin Bojang
4. Ousman Sabally
5. Sainey Nyabally
6. Ousman Sembene
7. Bakary Njie
8. Claesco Pierra
9. Momodou Lamin Njie
10. Ebrima Barry
11. Wuyea Foday Mansareh
12. Bamba Jobarteh
13. Momodou Lamin Chune
14. Abdoulie Sanyang
15. Babucarr Badjie
16. Omar Barrow (journalist & Red Cross volunteer)
This year, like previous years, the innocent students massacred fourteen years ago are remembered and honored as martyrs of freedom by Gambians at home and abroad. The mourning of their deaths and the celebration of their short lives will become an annual ritual that will grow bigger as more and more Gambians become aware of the significance of this day of notoriety. This year, Gambians and Gambians civil society organizations around the world are calling everyone to join in commemorating the freedom they stood for, and celebrate the short lives they lived. For their legacy of bravery will forever be etched in stone and inscribed on the mural of Gambian history.
This Monday, April 10th 2017, a Commemoration March is organized to remember the April 10th/11th 2000 Student Massacre at 8.30am at the meeting point Gambia Technical Training Institute where the first students died.