The Ghanaian shoe seller taking up an ex-dictator

The Ghanaian shoe seller taking up an ex-dictator

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Martin Kyere has walked thousands of kilometres around Ghana to try and song down victims’ households

A Ghanaian man is main a advertising and marketing and marketing campaign to bring The Gambia’s ragged chief Yahya Jammeh to justice over the assassinate of 55 migrants who had been wrong for coup plotters, writes the BBC’s Alex Duval Smith.

Martin Kyere leapt from the hang-up truck into the darkness. Bullets whistled around him as he ran for his life thru the thick Gambian forest. He fell. He picked himself up. He dodged the soldiers’ searchlight.

He promised himself no longer to relaxation until Mr Jammeh modified into brought to justice.

Thirteen years later and now living in his native Ghana, Mr Kyere is the predominant search for in an global effort to bring The Gambia’s ragged president to trial for what modified into potentially the single very finest mass killing for the length of the 22-365 days reign of dismay.

Meanwhile, Mr Jammeh has lived in Equatorial Guinea since January 2017. He went into exile there below a domestically-brokered deal after losing the December 2016 presidential election to Adama Barrow.

Travelling to Europe

Mr Kyere is the suitable known survivor out of Fifty six West Africans – most of them Ghanaian and Nigerian – who had been murdered in The Gambia on or around 22 July 2005.

”It is my mission, on behalf of my friends, we desire justice,” Mr Kyere, now extinct 37, suggested the BBC in his home metropolis in central Ghana.

Image copyright AFP

Image caption Gambians infamous the defeat of prolonged-serving ruler Yahya Jammeh

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In 2005, Mr Kyere, by selling sneakers in Ghana and Ivory Hover, had saved up money to roam to Senegal and onwards to Europe.

He boarded a pirogue in Senegal’s capital Dakar. It ran out of gasoline and came ashore in The Gambia. The travellers had been arrested, detained for a week in The Gambia’s capital Banjul, and beaten.

”As soon as we asked the cops why we had been there, they factual talked about the orders came from above. For a prolonged time we opinion we would possibly perhaps perhaps perhaps factual be deported.”

However the migrants had been handed over to ”the junglers” – paramilitaries whose torture and killings had helped shield Mr Jammeh in energy since he grabbed it on 22 July 1994.

Some participants indulge in that in the creep-as a lot as the 22 July ”revolution” commemorations, the migrants had been opinion by the paranoid regime to be mercenaries, appearing on behalf of coup plotters.

US attorney Reed Brody

”We’re presenting proof that roughly forty four Ghanaian voters had been killed by a death squad”

Mr Kyere recounts their very finest roam in meticulous detail: ”Eight of us had been loaded into the hang-up. They passe one rope to tie four participants, every with his hands on his support.

”A Nigerian who modified into a Muslim, began to wish “Allahu Akbar” (God is most arresting). This frustrated them. They sliced his support with a cutlass. He below no circumstances raised his head again.

”The hang-up drove deeper and deeper into the forest. Belief to be one of us complained of misfortune in his arm. A soldier slashed his other arm with the cutlass and talked about ‘which is extra painful?’ Now the hang-up modified into beefy of blood. All of us knew we had been going to die and we tried to release ourselves.”

Mr Kyere succeeded: ”The others talked about ‘creep and say the enviornment what Jammeh has carried out to us’. I jumped from the hang-up and I heard a screech – ‘who is that?’ – but I did no longer search for support. I modified into operating. The bullets skipped over me.

”I heard the screams in Twi, ”awu rade gye yen” (Oh God attach us), and the gunshots adopted – so I realised the guys had been killed.”

Mr Kyere staggered thru the forest. He hid from participants for dismay of being re-arrested.

After several days, he asked for attend in a village. He modified into shown the contrivance to the Senegalese border.

Yahya Jammeh: At a gaze

Image copyright AFP

Image caption Yahya Jammeh (in white)
  • Born in Would per chance perhaps 1965
  • Seized energy in a coup in 1994
  • Claimed in 2007 he would possibly perhaps perhaps cure Aids and infertility with natural concoctions
  • Warned in 2008 that overjoyed participants would possibly perhaps perhaps be beheaded
  • Vowed in 2013 to shield in energy for “one billion years” if God wills
  • Defeated in presidential election in 2016
  • Pressured into exile in 2017

Image caption The family of Peter Mensah is tranquil struggling to return to phrases with his killing

Mr Kyere ultimately travelled support to Ghana, sought attend from the authorities and situation about travelling, with few ability, thousands of kilometres around his country to trace down the family members of his lost comrades. He has found 25 households to this level, including that of Peter Mensah who left in the support of his important other and three children.

If Mr Jammeh is to be tried, lawyers can cling to get his extradition from Equatorial Guinea.

‘Rogue ingredients’

Reed Brody, upright counsel for advertising and marketing and marketing campaign neighborhood Human Rights Search, which is supporting Mr Kyere’s advertising and marketing and marketing campaign along with Trial Global, says Ghana would possibly perhaps perhaps be an very finest country for the trial due to it has a vital justice machine and provisions to prosecute participants for the ”enforced disappearance” of Ghanaian voters anywhere on this planet.

”We’re presenting proof that roughly forty four Ghanaian voters had been killed by a death squad that took its orders from Jammeh,” talked about the US attorney.

”The tell outdated official investigation concluded that the migrants had been potentially killed by ‘rogue ingredients’ appearing on their very indulge in.

“Since the descend of Mr Jammeh, we had been ready to interview 30 ragged officers, Eleven of whom had been straight away piquant, and it’s miles obvious that the migrants weren’t killed by rogue ingredients but by the ‘junglers’ who took their orders straight far from Jammeh.”

Image caption Martin Kyere, seen right here with his son, has travelled around Ghana to search out the households of victims

Alternatively, a 2009 joint investigation by the United International locations and the West African regional neighborhood, the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), concluded that Mr Jammeh and his executive weren’t to blame for ordering the killings and that “rogue ingredients” in the protection products and companies had been guilty.

The Gambia returned six bodies to Ghana, and paid $500,000 (£420,000) to duvet burial and other charges. Many of the very finest bodies cling below no circumstances been found.

Mr Brody suggested victims of ragged Chadian ruler Hissene Habre, who is a serving a life sentence in Senegal for atrocities committed for the length of his eight-365 days rule. He’s decided to be saunter Mr Jammeh also stands trial.

Mr Brody says if Mr Kyere’s case is heard in Ghana this would embolden a nascent advertising and marketing and marketing campaign for justice by higher than 1,000 of the Jammeh regime’s victims in The Gambia.

However he cautions that ”the upright and security prerequisites originate no longer exist” for a trial in The Gambia for the time being.

Mr Kyere is a gentle-mannered, outwardly unassuming man, who tranquil sells sneakers. However when he opens his mouth to talk, his screech is treasure a speak field for justice.

He does no longer undoubtedly feel guilt for being the suitable known survivor.

”I am alive for a motive and that motive is to impress justice – to know one day why Yahya Jammeh grabbed us and decided to damage us in an unlawful contrivance.”

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