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‘November 11, 1994 execution demoralizes soldiers’

Lt. Cl. Babucarr Sanyang

Gambian soldier, jailed and tortured by colleagues, narrates the scary atmosphere in Yundum Barracks on the day close to two dozen soldiers were executed in 1994.   

Lt. Cl. Babucarr Sanyang

Lt Colonel Babucarr Sanyang, a native of Kombo Busra who lives in Lamin, has described the mood in Yundum Barracks on November 11, a day close to two dozen Gambian soldiers were captured and killed, as a gloomy one.

November 11 is remembered as the bloodiest day in Gambia’s military history. Some top Gambian soldiers who had planned a counter-coup against the infamous July takeover led by a self-style ruler Yahya Jammeh were arrested and summarily executed.

“After the episode of November 11, every soldier was demoralized… Myself I could not sleep for two days,” said Sanyang.

People were captured, some tied and shot pointblank. As Commission’s Wednesday witness John Charles Mendy expressed, it was Jammeh’s desire for families to weep that day.

“Immediately Fafa Nyang was whisked out jail for the example to be set on him, I heard more than… three shots. When I went out to confirm, Fafa Nyang was already lying on a pool of blood and I left for my office because what I saw was appalling.”

Sanyang said he had seen Alagie Kanyi, John Charles Mendy, Batch Samba Jallow at the barracks during the killings, together with military junta members including Sanna Sabally, Edward Singhateh, Yankuba Touray and Sadibou Hydara.

These were names that came up in several testimonies by witnesses as taking part in the November 11 execution.

He said the shooting of Fafa Nyang had been disapproved by Commanding Officer Modou Lamin Marong. Marong was in charge of the Barracks at the time but had no control over what happened there, according to Sanyang.

“I later saw some officers being removed from their cells one after the other to enter a waiting truck before they were driven off and among the officers were Gibril Saye, Abdoulie Bah, Bakary Manneh, Cadet Sillah, Lamin Jarju and LaminDarboe.”

Based on other testimonies, these people were executed in the Brikama Nyambai forest. Meanwhile, the Truth Commission is wrapping its session on November 11. The Commission has also started working on identifying the mass graves where the November 11 victims were buried.

The investigation team of the Commission and a forensic expert have visited the Yundum Barracks with witnesses to identify the places. The Commission had already issued a statement to this effect and has started meeting family members of those killed on November 11, 1994.

Sanyang also testified that he was arrested and tortured by soldiers. His testimony was that his cruel treatment was supervised by General Alhagie Martin.

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