Gambia: Female victim of July 22nd coup-d’etat narrates ordeal

Georgina Kosso Taylor has disclosed that she was assaulted at Fajara Barrack by some soldiers after the July 22nd take over and started bleeding.

The witness made this disclosure yesterday during the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission’s (TRRC) sitting at Dunes Hotel in Kotu.

Georgina Kosso Taylor born in the Upper River Region is presently a resident in California in the United States of America.

The witness disclosed that she left the Gambia at the age of eight for Sierra-Leone where she attended her elementary and secondary schools, studied nursing, returned to The Gambia and worked at Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital renamed Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital (EFSTH) in Banjul.

She said she later ventured into politics in the early 1980’s and as PPP militant, she was nominated as a councilor for Banjul and served as treasurer in the women national executive.

She told the Commission that her trouble started on the 12th of October, 1995, whilst she was going to Kairaba Avenue to purchase a ticket to travel to Sierra-Leone.

She explained that she was stopped by one Sainey Manneh who asked her if she was there for the demonstration.

The witness told the Commission that she replied, saying what demonstration? But she was forcibly put in a vehicle and taken to Kairaba Police Station where she found other people as well.

The witness disclosed that after her hand bag was searched she was detained behind the counter.

Georgina K. Taylor averred that some while later, some military officers came and transported them to Fajara Barrack and detained in storage facility.

She further averred that whilst there, she met other detainees like Omar Jallow alias O.J., M.C. Cham, former ministers and government officials in the PPP government.

She said one Jobarteh Manneh, Batch Samba Jallow, Houssainou Njie were among the detainees at the said storage facility.

The witness further said that the condition of the facility was very bad, noting that there was no toilet facility, the detainees slept on bare floor which stinks with stench.

She pointed out that whenever she wants to urinate, a soldier would escort her, stand and watch her do so.

She said she felt scared that she was the only female detainee among the male detainees inside the facility.

The witness recalled a particular Saturday morning when some military soldiers arrived at the facility with two trucks and asked all the detainees to lie down and they started trampling on their backs, beating them with hose pipes and gun butts.

The witness told the Commission that as they were beating one Jobarteh Manneh, she shouted ‘Oh he don kill am oo’ which irked some of the soldiers who rushed to her and began assaulting her.

“They kicked me in my stomach, others kicked me in my private part and I started bleeding and the place was full of blood,” she said.

The witness revealed that after she fell on the ground, the soldiers were trying to remove her wrapper and her underwear.

She further revealed that she sustained injuries on her back and the bleeding lasted throughout the day.

“The bleeding lasted from that very day till the next day, my family didn’t know where I was and I didn’t changed my clothes and I was in pain,” she added.

Georgina K. Taylor disclosed that she was later taken to the CID office at the Police Headquarters in Banjul where she met two ladies; Mama Jawara and Adama Ceesay who she slept with during her detention at the said police station.

The witness further disclosed that Mama Jawara had told her that she was also beaten and electrocuted all over her body.

She told the Commission that Mama Jawara told her that she was asked to open her legs and she was electrocuted.

The witness further told the Commission that they were charged and then arraigned before Kanifing Magistrates’ Court on charges of sedition that they planned to stage a demonstration.

The witness revealed that the trial was inconclusive as she was later released after she was being detained for 13 months.

She further revealed that whilst she was being detained at the Police Headquarters she saw Abubacarr Denton, former Accountant General and Fafa M’bai, Attorney General and Minister of Justice brought to the Police Headquarters in Banjul.

She noted that after her release, she went to Kairab Police Station to collect her bag and then left for Sierra-Leone.

The witness said in Sierra-Leone, there was civil war and she continued to Guinee-Conakry and then to Senegal.

She explained that she didn’t come back to The Gambia because she was scared of the junta for her life.

The witness revealed that she left from Dakar to the United States of America after successfully getting Asylum.

The witness gave her testimony through video conferencing, disclosing that the Gambia is a friendly country and urged all and sundry to put what happened in the 22 years of Jammeh government behind them.

She, however, thanked the Prom family and one Susan Ngum who took care of her during the period she was detained at the Police Headquarters in Banjul.

The deputy chairperson, Commissioner Adelaide Sosseh thanked her for courage and determination she had in testifying before the Commission.

Commissioner Sosseh apologised most sincerely to her for going through the bitter experience during the Jammeh government and reminded her of the mandate of the TRRC.

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