port of harlem magazine
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Photo Exhibit Aims to Help Gambian Reconciliation
May 23 – June 5, 2019
oumie jagne

From 1994-2017, President Yahya Jammeh ruled The Gambia, West Africa. Ongoing testimonies before the Gambian Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) reveal that his personal hit squad and intelligence agency carried out tortures  and assassinations with impunity - journalists were gunned down and disappeared, ministers were jailed, students shot in cold blood, and even his own brother and sister were murdered on his orders. 

One such victim was then-budding journalist Omar Bah, who contributed to Port Of Harlem. He reveals his story in “Africa’s Hell on Earth: The Ordeal of an African Journalist.”  Bah has since resettled in the United States.

With Jammeh's 2016 election defeat, he went into exile after a standoff with regional forces and the victims of his regime started to come forward. So far, over 1000 victims and their families have registered with the Gambia Centre for Victims of Human Rights Violations (GCHRV) to share their stories and help build international support to bring Jammeh to justice.

In collaboration with the GCHRV, wife and husband team, Helen Jones-Florio and Jason Florio, have documented many of their stories in a photo exhibit on line and on display at the GCHRV center near the Senegambia Turntable in tourist area, Kololi, The Gambia.

The Florio’s extensive worldwide photography has focused on under-reported stories on people living on the margins of society and in places of conflict. Goethe Institut, Arts Centre in Dakar, funded this project. The Center is a German cultural centre that hosts exhibitions and shows films. It offers German-language classes, and there's also a library open to the public with German books, films, magazines and music.  

As an artist, the Florios have to find time between finding funding, managing funding, and creating work. And, it seems like they have found it, according to Jason. "Helen and I work as a team - so diversified labour is essential in the balancing of finding funding ,doing research, and actually getting into the field to create the images," he told Port Of Harlem.
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