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Victims speak on 23rd anniversary of student massacre

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Press release

As the country marks the 23rd anniversary of the year 2000 massacre of protesting students, the survivors and other members of Gambia Centre for Victims of the Jammeh era have among other things called on President Adama Barrow to find time and visit the Centre.

In a statement issued on Saturday, the victims said: “As this year mark 23 years of the student massacre and 7 years of the new government the question remains why the day is not in our school or national calendar as a public or school holiday? And why is the Public Order and Indemnity Act still in our law book? We are definitely disappointed with our parliamentarians, especially our fellow victim- assembly members, who are not serious about trying to get rid of the two draconian laws”. The victims also called on the minister of education to make sure by next April all schools in The Gambia observe the anniversary as the most important days of history in Gambian schools because the students should be told about the violation that happened on these days so they can remember the victims as heroes and pray for the departed ones.

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“The minister of justice should also engage the National Assembly to abolish the Public Order and Indemnity Acts and other bad laws. We are also concerned that the reinstatement of Jammeh’s close associates will delay the road to justice. We want to bring to the government’s attention that some of the survivors are dying one by one due to lack of proper medical treatment. We therefore call on the government to pay attention to the plight of the survivors and the victims’ families and make sure that the president visits the Victim Centre as soon as possible because they are the reasons he became president,” the statement said.

The victims added that April 10-11 should be accorded recognition just as the 24 April 1970 when the country became a Republic. “Also, Solo Sandang and his colleagues were arrested, tortured and killed on 14 April. We should combine all these together and set a special day in April as remembrance and prayer day. The government should understand that this is an important day for us,” the victims said.

Meanwhile the ministry of justice too has issued a statement on the anniversary saying that following the suspension of perpetrators of the tragedy, it has completed the drafting of a law to permanently ban all perpetrators from ever holding public office. It further said it is working on implementing the recommendations of the TRRC including setting up a well-publicised special internationalised judicial framework with Ecowas for the prosecution of perpetrators. On TRRC’s recommendation for memorialisation, the government said it recognises the need to memorialise the day as part of a comprehensive memorial plan that covers all atrocities committed between 1994 and 2016 and that consultations on the Memorialisation Plan will hold in Q3 2023. On TRRC’s recommendation which calls for the setting up of a fund to provide medical assistance and support, government says the bill to establish the Victims Reparation Fund to provide reparations for victims (including medical care) has been validated by stakeholders.

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