By Omar Bah
Fatou Jatta, a victim of Yahya Jammeh’s HIV/AIDS treatment, has recounted how her 7-year-old son was forced to drink concoction during the former president’s controversial witch-hunt exercise that caused 41 deaths. The truth commission has established that Jammeh, Solo Bojang, the security forces, witch hunters and Green Boys are individually and collectively responsible for ordering the persecution, arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, inhumane and degrading and sexual gender-based violence treatment of victims.
Addressing journalists at Jammeh2Justice press conference last week, Madam Jatta, who said she was part of Jammeh’s first batch of HIV/AIDS patients, recounted her terrible experience with Jammeh which included helplessly watching her son being forced to drink a concoction to prove whether he was a witch or not.
“One day, Jammeh just came and said some of us are in fact witches and because of that, we were forced to drink concoction. My seven-year-old boy was also forced to drink the concoction and from that day until we left the treatment room, he would cry whenever he saw people in uniform. That was emotionally torturing for me. This was not fair because an innocent child was forced to drink the concoctions. It was a terrifying experience,” Jatta said.
She said when they were entering the treatment, they were told they would be cured in three to nine months.
“Jammeh took advantage of the fact that Gambians were scared of him and did whatever he wanted. The worst thing is that Jammeh would ask us to undress naked and he would touch us everywhere including our private parts. It was so horrible that I wanted God to just take my life because I never wanted to return to society with the trauma and experience,” a tearful Jatta recounted.
At some point, she added, patients who were in critical conditions were left to die because the nurses refused to attend to them.
“They would ask us to wait for our doctors. We were subjected to so many things including cooking and other things including working on Jammeh’s farm in Kanilai. We didn’t like it but we could not resist Jammeh,” she added.