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’23 victims of Jammeh’s witch hunt in Jambur have died’

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By Tabora Bojang

Jambur community leader, Abdoulie Bojang, has called on the government to expedite payment of reparations and provision of medical assistance for victims of former president Yahya Jammeh’s witch hunt.

He said of the 60 villagers subjected to Jammeh’s macabre exorcism, 23 have died, 15 years on.

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Mr Bojang said this at a public lecture on transitional justice focusing on Jammeh’s witch hunt campaign, organised by the Women’s Association for Victims Empowerment (Wave).

Between 2008-2009 President Jammeh carried out a state-sponsored witch hunt to “cleanse the country of witches and wizards”.

Hundreds of hapless men and women in Niumi, Foñï and Kombo were rounded up, detained and forced to drink concoctions.

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According to the truth commission, at least 40 of these people died as a result of the exorcism.

Bojang said most of them passed out after drinking the concoctions and were left unaided on the floors at the detention centres.

“Within three days most of them were terribly sick and traumatised. Jambur was a complete broken society and among those arrested were three Casamançais who were attending a funeral and all of them died after release. Another lady stranger found in a shop was taken away by the soldiers and also died. Most of the victims are dying; 23 have died in Jambur, the latest Dembo Manneh, died just a few days before the start of Ramadan. We are concerned that the TRRC recommendations are not fully honoured and the victims are not getting treatment and government is just watching them like that. It is really unfair,” he lamented.

A representative of the Ministry of Justice Post-TRRC Unit, Saffie Nyang, assured the victims of government’s willingness to pay reparations and provide medical help.

Ms Nyang said a selection panel has been set up to recruit commissioners and other staff of a Victims Reparations Commission, which will oversee the payment of reparations.

According to her, the government will also introduce a peace and reconciliation body to promote social cohesion.

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