Nearly a week after security forces mounted a full-scale crackdown on peaceful protesters, President Adama Barrow on Friday made a visit to bereaved families in Faraba Banta village.
“It is not only Faraba Banta that is in mourning, but the entire country is in shock and mourning,” Barrow told residents of the village after performing Friday prayer.
Last Monday, paramilitary forces clashed with protesters demanding the end of sand mining activities in the area. Two people died on the spot, provoking waves of concerns across the globe. Another victim, named Amadou Nyang Jawo, succumbed to his injuries. The community will be burying their dead today.
The Gambian leader expressed deep regrets over the sad turn of events that led to the loss of lives.
He urged people to accept God’s decision, adding that the incident prompting him to visit Banjul hospital for the first time to empathize with victims’ families.
President Barrow further called on Faraba Banta residents to fully cooperate with the Independent Inquiry he commissioned this week, and which is tasked with the responsibility of investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of activists.
In the aftermath of the shootings, rights groups called on Gambian authorities to “fully investigate” the bloody demo, and make sure that justice prevails.
Gambia’s Adama Barrow appointed on Wednesday an investigation panel mandated to “identify those responsible for the deaths, including those who may have ordered the firings and those who fired the shots.”
Bakary Sanyang, a member of the Village Development Committee, who spoke to this medium, commended the President for making the trip to Faraba Banta.
He said everything started when the owner of Julakay Entreprise came to the village, and said he has license to mine in the area.
“This prompted villagers to challenge him by making it very clear to him that his license is not valid. It was not issued in a proper way,” he revealed.
He decried the environmental damage caused by sand mining in Faraba Banta, posing a real threat to people’s livelihoods.
The deputy imam, Suwaibou Sanyang added his voice to the chorus of recriminations, and stated that they are an agriculture-minded community, relying essentially on farming and gardening.
Speaking under conditions of anonymity, a resident of the village disclosed to this reporter that the magnitude of the damage and destruction that hit the area is unimaginable.
“I strongly believe some people have failed President Barrow. The left him in the dark regarding this issue.”