Truth Commission resumed on Monday with the testimony of the 4th Jungler. Junglers are a hit-squad reportedly operating on the orders of former President Yahya Jammeh.
Dr Lamin Sise, the chairman of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparation Commission, has reacted to criticisms by mostly Jammeh supporters that the Commission is a witch hunting exercise.
“…I should like to say a few words regarding criticisms levelled at the Commission from some sections of our society. These critics try to discredit the Commission as a witch hunt designed to go after or even persecute the supporters of the previous regime. Some of them even maintain that witnesses appearing before the Commission were either coerced or bribed to testify against the previous regime,” said Dr Sise.
“I should like to be categorical with regard these allegations. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The TRRC is here to help this country get to the bottom of all the horrible things that happened in this country during the period under review, to help all of us attain healing and closure, and ultimately to help all of us move together into a better and brighter future.”
Sise made the remarks as the Commission resumed it seventh session since its start on January 7, 2019. A total of 93 witnesses were heard since the commencement of the Commission’s public hearings.
The Commission is currently hearing the testimonies of Junglers, a group of commandoes selected from the State Guards, a unit of the Gambia National Army responsible for the president’s security.
Officially called The Patrol Team, their primary duty was to patrol the area of the Gambia-Southern Senegal border near the president’s home village of Kanilai. In reality, they were in fact a hit squad mainly engaged in arrests, tortures, and killings of Jammeh’s enemies, perceived or real.
“We cannot now pretend that these crimes were not or could not have been committed by Gambians. Now we know that they were not only perpetrated by Gambians on Gambians, but also on non-Gambians such as our brothers and sisters from Ghana and other West African countries. The primary responsibility of this Commission is to seek and record the truth of what happened in The Gambia during the period under review. Only knowledge of the truth can help us move forward as a nation. During this seventh session, the Commission expects to hold hearings on circumstances surrounding the April 10th and 11th, 2000 massacre of 14 students by the security forces,” said Dr Sise.
Meanwhile, So far, at least 50 outreach activities targeting young adults and school children in communities and schools across the country have been conducted by the TRRC’s Youth and Children’s Network Coordination Unit, according to Sise.
“Since September 2018, the TRRC has visited 55 schools and engaged an estimated 45, 000 students. The Youth and Children’s Network Coordination Unit has also brought 95 young people, including students from secondary schools, the University of The Gambia, the Gambia Technical Training Institute, the Management Development Institute and other institutions to attend some public hearings of the Commission,” he said.