from MOMODOU DIBBA in Banjul, Gambia
BANJUL, (CAJ News) – SURVIVORS of a fraudulent AIDS cure run by former Gambia leader, Yahya Jammeh, have begun giving testimony during public hearings into human rights violations committed under his presidency.
The Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) is conducting the hearings.
Fatou Jatta, the HIV activist, was scheduled to be the first witness.
AIDS-Free World, the non-governmental organisation, said for the first time, survivors of the fraudulent cure were raising their voices in public, braving the stigma and discrimination that people living with HIV in The Gambia still endured.
“They deserve to be heard. And the world must heed their warning,” the NGO stated.
In 2007, after announcing that he could cure AIDS with a secret herbal concoction, Jammeh conscripted Gambians living with HIV to reside in a state facility under the surveillance of armed guards.
Jammeh ordered his “patients” to cease taking antiretroviral drugs, an action that posed grave threats to their health and their lives.
Instead, he had them drink herbal mixtures.
He also slathered the concoctions on his victims’ partially nude bodies while chanting prayers. Select sessions were broadcast on Gambian television without the consent of the victims.
Local professionals endorsed the controversial programme that international experts condemned.
The United Nations’ top envoy was ejected from the country after she challenged the so-called cure.
Jammeh’s fraudulent programme ran until 2016 when he eventually lost the election to Adama Barrow.
He initially clung to power but fled to Equatorial Guinea in 2017.
Jammeh remains in exile there as the host government defies calls for his extradition.
– CAJ News