Kebba Ansu Manneh
Omar Joof, former President of Gambia Students Union (Gamsu) has stated that the Government’s acceptance of the recommendations of the Truth Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) without implementing them is as good as rejecting the recommendations altogether.
He claimed that many victims who suffered from atrocities meted out to them by the former regime have been eagerly waiting for closure to no avail.
Joof, who headed the 2000 students’ demonstration, came as growing calls to the Government of The Gambia to implement the recommendations of the Truth Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) that it has accepted to implement since 25th May 2022 in its published Whitepaper.
“At face value, the Government’s acceptance of almost all recommendations from the TRRC is impressive but accepting them and not implementing them is as bad as rejecting them off hand. Some victims are still suffering from the impacts of life-changing injuries and for such persons even a day-long delay in implementation is unacceptable,” Omar Joof, former leader of Gamsu said.
He added: “Some of the recommendations, like going after some perpetrators, without doubt, will have political repercussions. President Barrow is so obsessed with his political self-perpetuation and we cannot see him ruffling certain feathers that will convince us that he and his government are ready to implement the TRRC recommendations.”
Joof led the year 2000 students’ protest against the state for rights violations against one Ebrima Barry of Foster Secondary Technical School in Brikama who was forced to eat cement and one Binta Manneh, a Grade 7th student of Brikamaba who was subjected to rape by an unidentified Paramilitary Officer of The Gambia Police Force observed that if President Adama Barrow had stuck with the three-year mandate of the Coalition and focused on rectification, a lot could have been attained.
He noted that President failed to honour the Coalition agreement that eventually saw the Gambian train wreck on its journey to democratic governance.
“You talk about pace when something is being done. But as I have stated above, this is a train wreck. The cargo isn’t going anywhere! Certainly, the way forward is to implement the recommendations of The TRRC as accepted by the government. However, we have not seen anything which can be regarded as an indication that the Barrow administration means to do something,” former Gamsu leader frowns on the slow pace of the implementation process of the TRRC.
“We are positive that as long as President Barrow is in office, very little if at all, any of the TRRC recommendations will be implemented. That means just staying in the wilderness, for another, at least, four years! There is no alternative but to continue The Struggle.”
The former student leader has also cast doubts on the process of the defunct TRRC proceedings that he said at some point, looks like a court where many people went to showcase their “lawyering” to defend themselves, arguing that this was just the wrong position in terms of reconciliation, which required perpetrators to show some remorse.
“The process itself was open and fair enough for the commission to have attained its goals. However, the report seems to have concentrated more on what to do with certain perpetrators, but when it comes to what to do about the plight of the victims, it has not gone far enough,” Joof expressed his feelings on the TRRC Commission.
“We were expecting people like brothers Yusupha Mbye to have been recommended for immediate academic assistance to remedy their inability to pursue professional interests mainly due to dictatorship ill will.”