By Adama Tine
As the Truth Reconciliation and Reparations Commissions (TRRC) makes its report public, the commission has uncovered numerous rights violations meted out to a number of Gambian journalists during the regime of former president Yahya Jammeh. Some of these victims were harassed for exercising their fundamental human rights and in line with the necessary condition of promoting freedom of expression.
Deyda Hydara, a veteran journalist and co-owner of The Point newspaper, whose paper carried a regular column by him called “Good Morning Mr. President” in which he often raised critical issues of Jammeh was executed by former President Yahya Jammeh’s Junglers. Jammeh believed that Deyda Hydara was an obstacle to his plans to entrench himself in power and as a result, he ordered the Junglers to assassinate him.
Malick Jatta, while testifying before the TRRC, disclosed that in December 2004, they were all summoned for normal patrol at Kanilai and when they all converged, Tumbul Tamba said to them, “Today we are going for the magic pen”.
According to the report, Malick Jatta, Alieu Jeng and Sanna Manjang boarded Tumbul Tamba’s vehicle and headed to the Kombos, but upon arriving at Kanifing, they drove into a garage that was believed to belong to Yahya Jammeh, parked the vehicle and boarded a taxi Benz 200.
The report added that they drove up to Traffic Lights and stopped and according to Malick Jatta’s testimony, Tumbul Tamba was in communication over the phone with the President saying, “Yes Sir, and Your Excellency.”
According to Malick Jatta in his testimony, “I believed that Tumbul was receiving instructions from the President at that point linking Jammeh directly with the murder of Hydara.” Alieu Jeng also during his testimony confirmed that Tumbul was indeed communicating with someone on the phone, but he could not recall what was said.
The report further narrated that Malick Jatta testified that the group of Kawsu Camara (Bombardier) and one of the commanders, Manlafi Corr, were also driving in a Mercedes Benz V-Boot 190 taxi while the two groups were communicating with each other and sharing information with Tumbul.
According to the report, Malick Jatta said they trailed a small vehicle around Westfield, close to the Police Garage and Tumbul drove adjacent the vehicle then said: “Gentlemen the driver is the idiot.”
“When the order was made by Tumbul to shoot, a shot came to the front passenger seat as the car kept moving and Tumbul shouted you better shoot and all of them shot at the vehicle,” Jatta revealed to the commission.
Alieu Jeng during his testimony said on the other hand at that point, Tumbul removed the pistols from underneath his chair, gave it to them and ordered Manjang and Malick to shoot and asked him to stand down. Malick Jatta confirmed that he, Alieu Jeng and Sanna Manjang shot at the vehicle and Tumbul gave the order to shoot the target.