My name is Kemo Touray, and I am a victim of the events that occurred on May 9, 2016. On that fateful day, my brother and I were apprehended near the pipeline and subsequently taken to the Police Intervention Unit (PIU). The PIU was filled with numerous individuals who, like me, had been arrested. It was a distressing sight, with elderly people and injured individuals among us. The police officers at the PIU treated us with contempt, hurling insults at us without restraint.
After our time at the PIU, we were herded into a truck and transported to Macarthy, located in the Central River Region. Detained there, I endured 52 days of harsh and inhumane treatment. At the detention center, members of the National Intelligence Agency interrogated us. Their line of questioning revolved around our political affiliations and tribal background, although I considered these inquiries irrelevant and unnecessary. Once the questioning concluded, we were all transported to Mile 11 prisons, joining the others who had been arrested alongside us.
In addition to the physical and emotional hardships endured during those 52 days of detention, the aftermath of the May 9, 2016 events took a severe toll on us, both individually and as a community. Financially, the impact was devastating. As a result of the arrest and subsequent detention, I lost my business, which was completely destroyed during my absence. Many others faced similar circumstances, with their livelihoods shattered and their means of income abruptly severed. The financial burdens imposed upon us further compounded our already dire circumstances, leaving us grappling with uncertainty and despair.
Moreover, the repercussions of the events subjected us to societal marginalization and a loss of respect within our communities. The label of being associated with the events of May 9, 2016, cast a shadow over our reputations. People labeled us as radicals or troublemakers, without considering the circumstances that led to our arrest or the injustices we suffered. The lack of understanding and empathy from society only deepened our feelings of isolation and made the process of rebuilding our lives even more arduous.
For a period of eight months, life was nothing short of hellish. The cumulative impact of financial loss, shattered businesses, social ostracism, and the trauma of detention created a bleak and challenging existence for us all. Every day was a struggle, both to survive physically and to maintain hope in the face of seemingly insurmountable adversity.
It is essential that our stories are heard and acknowledged, not only to shed light on the injustices we endured but also to seek redress and work towards preventing such violations from occurring in the future. The road to recovery may be long and arduous, but through collective efforts, support, and recognition, we can begin to heal and rebuild our lives.
Host – Isatou and Fatou