With the aim of seeking greener pastures in Europe, Martin Kyere, the only survivor of the Gambia massacre left the shores of Ghana in 2005 by road with the hope of having a better life to support his family.
Unknowing how things would turn out and dreaming to achieve his goal, Martin spent more than 5 days on road before finally reaching Senegal.
Detailing events leading to his escape, Martin Kyere, gave chilling accounts of the torture he and the other 44 Ghanaians went through in the hands of Yahya Jammeh’s men, the ‘Junglers’.
Narrating the horrific incident that happened 15 years ago, Martin Kyere said after spending months in Senegal, just like many other Ghanaians and West Africans, they met a connection man who promised to take them to Europe through Senegal, Gambia, the Mediterranean sea and finally to Europe.
But their joy turned into sour upon reaching Gambia after they got caught by the police and kept at the Barra Police Station for a while. After days, the immigrants were handed over to the Gambia’s Naval Patrol Team, who also took them across the river from Barra to Banjul. They were later conveyed in a bus and got distributed to several police stations in Banjul. Their horror started after Yahya Jammeh’s ‘Junglers’ came for them at night and took them to a ‘safe house’.
“They just opened the hall and they came in for the first four. They hold your hand, they take you outside the compound, they tie your hand back with wire and they use the rest of the rope to tie their necks and send it back to their hands. So they’re just looking up. They pushed them inside the white pickup bucket and place their bags around them. Same was done to us until the pickup got full. They took off our jeans and me, it was left with my underwear, they did not take off my shirt,” Martin, who is also the spokesperson for the victims’ families, recounted.
On their way, a Nigerian Muslim who was praying in the pickup suffered machete wounds on his back after one of the Junglers attacked him for ‘disturbing’. According to Martin, it was after this incident they realized they were going to be killed.
“They were speeding, so we get to a place where one Nigerian guy was praying; he’s a Muslim, the guy came with a cutlass and asked who was praying. We showed him the guy. He used the cutlass at his backbone, just cut it one time and the backbone opened and the blood started flowing…We branched from the highway and used an untarred road. When we got to a village, a sheep crossed the pickup and was knocked down. They stopped and placed the sheep between me and Kojo and they said we’re going to travel with this sheep tonight okay. I said aaahhh this people are going to kill us”.
Recounting how he escaped, Martin said “Everybody was trying to do something and I tried to get my hand off from the wire. And I told the guys, In fact, my hands are off the wire, so I tried to help them take off their wire but I was unable to. They said it’s God who wants to save you for you to tell the world how and why we are being killed by Yahya Jammeh. So some of them said go, others also said if you go they’ll kill us fast. So when the pickup was about to stop I jumped from the pickup to the forest and I heard a noise from the pickup asking who that was but I did not look back. I started running fast, so about four to five steps, I was tied by something in the forest and it brought me down and the gunshot passes over me…they were just shooting everywhere so I relaxed…Later, I got up from the ground and I heard noises ‘God save us’ several times followed by gunshots.
Although investigations were conducted into the unlawful killings of about 44 Ghanaians in Gambia in July 2005, Yahya Jammeh was exonerated by a joint ECOWAS and UN team. Reasons being that the Junglers acted on their own and did not receive orders from Yahya Jammeh to carry the act.
But Martin Kyere who isn’t pleased with the findings questioned how the UN and ECOWAS team came into conclusion of absolving Yahya Jammeh after testimonies of the three Gambian soldiers at the Truth, Reparations and Reconciliation Commission (TRRC) confessed the killing on the orders of the former president.
Watch below the full documentary film ‘The Massacre of Ghanaians in The Gambia: Justice in Limbo?