April 10/11, 2000 Student Massacre Deserves National Day Prayers:


by Alagi Yorro Jallow
Fatoumatta: Why must Gambians remember April 10/11, 2000 Student Massacre with a National Day of Prayers: So, no one will ever again have to lose their lives, something that has happened decades ago with impunity. The lives lost through targeted political violence and collateral damage in the line of political fire have value, are sacred, and deserve justice. On April 10/11 Day, we remember valiantly, as one step towards a long and arduous fight to reclaim the value and sanctity of every single life in The Gambia. Let us never forget those tears and screams that have penetrated the nights’ silence from the broken hearts of ordinary citizens. Fatoumatta: The system has failed them, one regime after another, and we must clean up the decay in the system. This is a call to all Gambians of a good conscience, regardless of what politician you support. This one thing unites us all: That all Gambian lives are important.
Fatoumatta: We must remember with a National Prayer Day.
Fatoumatta: The April 10/11 2000 student massacre, has become iconic of the brutality unleashed by a paranoid dictator that fostered distrust and encouraged lawmakers to grant immunity to perpetrators of those who massacred fourteen students after investigations proven to be a pointless farce.
But while the story is recognizable around the globe, as the darkest day in Gambian history, many in The Gambia don’t know much about the events leading up to that horrific moment of April 10/11, 2000 student demonstration, but we have living witnesses and protagonist of April 10/ 11 to tell their stories.
But what happened in April, was so deeply disturbing, we still feel shaken to our cores. Our automated responses to tragedy faltered that day as we all mirrored each other’s looks of horror. While we do not doubt the power of prayers, that day it did not feel like it was enough. When kids are massacred, nothing can ever be enough, knowing in our hearts it meant nothing. That was the day the reality of our helplessness hit us in full force, and it does not feel like we deserve to ever recover. Our cries for justice remain half-hearted, for nothing can make up for so devastating a loss.
When you live in The Gambia, it takes a lot to break through the self-protective numbness you develop in reaction to all the killings of defenseless students. You hear about terror and bloodshed, and you are not immune, but it doesn’t necessarily break you down. A solemn remark about how humanity is doomed, perhaps a National Day of Prayer for the deceased, and a conviction to the perpetrators can only bring give it a closure.
Fatoumatta: This year’s anniversary is significant. Not only does it mark more than a decade since the incident, which is referred to as the April 10/11 Event, but it also serves as a grim reminder of Gambia’s record of impunity.
As no state official has even been held accountable for the massacre of this incident has become emblematic of the culture of impunity that continues to plague The Gambia to the detriment of real reconciliation within our society.
No amount of remembrance can ever be enough for those fourteen students and those live-in pain and trauma.

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