By Omar Bah
Ayesha Jammeh, whose father Haruna Jammeh and aunt, Masie Jammeh—cousins of former president Yahya Jammeh who were allegedly murdered by the former president—has vowed to continue seeking justice for the double murders no matter how other family members feel about it.
Speaking on the national broadcaster GRTS, Ayesha said she recognizes that she could risk disconnection with some Jammeh members about the issue but she would not relent in her search for justice.
“People used to come to me and ask me to forget and forgive but I think Gambians should put themselves in our shoes for them to know what it actually means to lose a father or a love one in these kinds of circumstances,” she noted.
She said until she gets to the root cause of her father and aunt’s deaths and knows where they were buried, she cannot forgive or forget.
“I believe these things should not be swept under the carpet. There must be a closure and answers to the questions. I have to know why dad was killed and where he was buried so that I can give him a befitting Muslim burial,” she vowed.
Ms Jammeh, who said she was 14 when her dad was allegedly killed, added that when her dad was killed her aunt Masie was the only one who publicly talked about it. “But in their effort to silence the whole family she too was killed. So the only family I have is my mum, brothers and other people around my family.”
Ayesha revealed that it was in 2014 that that they discovered the truth after hearing a radio interview with Bai Lowe, a former driver of the “Junglers”, an elite hit squad under Jammeh accused of atrocities during his regime.
In the interview, aired on seneweb.com in March that year when Lowe was seeking asylum in Germany, the former Jungler driver revealed that he had witnessed the strangling of Haruna and Masie Jammeh in the bush near Kanilai in July 2005.
Speaking further Ayesha said some of these confessions cannot be mere allegations as they are so serious.
“I know the road to justice is always hard sometimes but I believe that justice would be served because all these things people are saying are not just mere allegations,” she said.
Yahya and Haruna Jammeh
The story of the two first cousins begins in Kanilai, where Haruna and Yahya grew up together in the 1960s and 1970s on the family farm, tendering the rice, tomato and cornfields.
Later, as adults in Serekunda, where Haruna worked as a restaurant manager for Novotel and Yahya a soldier at the nearby barracks, they remained close.
It was in 2000 after much coaxing from Jammeh, Haruna had agreed to become “the eyes and ears of Kanilai”, without fixed salary, receiving rice, meat and the occasional cash gift. “Yahya was his cousin and he didn’t want to sit and watch him doing everything alone,” Haruna’s son Ebrima Jammeh said in an interview last year. It is still not clear just why Haruna was murdered even though the subsequent murder of Masie was clearly out of fear for talking about it publicly.