Senegal will never forget March 2021

Excessive use force and firearms by security forces

How we got there

Protests and violent clashes erupted in the country after Ousmane Sonko, a leading opposition figure, was arrested on 3 March charged with disturbing public order and participating in an unauthorized demonstration while on his way to court to respond to a summons from a judge in a separate criminal case. Fourteen people died in the context of the protests and riots in 5 days. Rioters vandalized supermarkets and private residences of public figures perceived to be close to the government. One year later, the investigation into the deaths linked to the protests is still ongoing. The people responsible for these deaths are likely to escape justice.

“My son was only

20 years old”

It’s always a tragedy to lose a child. Cheikh Coly’s father had to bury his 20 years old son who had a bright future ahead of him. Discussing with Amnesty International, he tells us more about Cheikh and how he found out about his tragic death.

Cheikh Coly was a student. He was studying to pass his baccalaureate as an independent candidate. I educated him according to my values ​​and was satisfied with him. He was my only boy and he was 20 when he was killed in March 2021. He was a big fan of football and was admitted to a training center after succeeding in their tests. But he had to return to Bignona because of the COVID-19 pandemic. When he was here, at home, he was helping me with my work. I am a driver for the administration but at the same time I am a plumber and Cheikh helped me with those activities. Sometimes, it was him who did all the work, since I was only available on Saturdays and Sundays for this side job.

The day of his death, a neighbor came home on his motorbike demanding after me. When I came out to meet him, he told me that Cheikh was hit by a bullet. I thought at first that it was just a small scratch. The neighbor took me on his motorbike to the fire station where Cheikh was supposed to be. When I arrived there and asked to see my son, they told me that they already transferred him to the Bignona district hospital. When I asked the paramedic who transported him how Cheikh was, he only urged me to get to the Bignona district hospital.

When I arrived at the hospital, in front of the big gate, I heard people whispering “his father is her, his father is here”. From the look on their faces, I could tell that things were worse than I thought. I went to a doctor to ask about Cheikh. The doctor just said that Cheikh was there at the hospital. They then took me to a room where was my son’s lifeless body. He had a bullet wound in the heart. I saw it with my own eyes at the hospital.

After seeing his corpse, I just wanted to bring him back with me. The doctor then told me that I had to wait for the security forces to come and release the body. They took Cheikh’s body to the morgue and nobody called me to follow up on the matter. It took a week and a lot of struggle to get his corpse back. I went to see the prefect in order to complain about the situation and let him know that Cheikh’s family was waiting for the burial and to be able to mourn him. The prefect’s answer was that it was a legal issue and it was the Ziguinchor prosecutor who had to follow up with me. That got me out of my nerves and I started protesting. It’s a week later that they finally let us have his corpse. The worse part is that they kept his corpse and they did not do an autopsy. Nothing happened even though they kept the body for a week.

A team of investigators from the gendarmerie came once to interview me and since then there has been no follow-up. To this day I am talking to you, there has been no follow-up on the investigation into his murder.

We’ve been once brought to Dakar all expenses paid. It was to meet with the minister, Chief of Staff for the office of President Macky Sall, Mr. Mahmoud Saleh who came with Mr. Augustin Tine, former minister of Senegalese armed forces, and Mor Ngom, minister, advisor of the President. I used the occasion to tell them how much the death of our children has pained us. Those children were very dear to us. They didn’t tell us anything in return. And since this meeting, nothing has evolved. They ignore us and don’t return our calls or texts. They did not get back to us on our demands. It’s a deadlock.

You’ve killed the kid

One witness to the shooter

My son Cheikh was on his motorbike working as a moto-taxi when he was killed in downtown Bignona. And it was the security forces who shot him. There are witnesses who were there and who have seen it all. They told me directly. One of them explained that when he saw that Cheikh was hit by a bullet, he told to the shooter: “You’ve killed the kid”. He is ready to testify.

There was no legal action. It’s horrible. We have a lot of questions.

Cheikh's Father

After Cheikh’s death, the family had difficulties mourning. The day Cheikh died, my daughter, the one who comes after Cheikh, was at school. When she came back home around noon, she saw all the people in the house and was wondering what happened. When people told her that her elder brother was dead, she passed out on the spot in front of the house. She had to be brought to the dispensary. Since that day, she has been having issues with her heart. The family can’t make peace with Cheikh’s death. We can’t mourn him fully because there is no justice, no compensation. There is nothing that has been done so far by the authorities.

Cheikh used to say to me “Father, it is my foot that will build you a beautiful house, that will take you on pilgrimage, and buy you a beautiful car”. He was referring to his starting football career. He was a very good player. I miss Cheikh Ibrahima Coly immensely. His whole family misses him.

demand #Justiceforthe14

Senegalese authorities must do all in their power to bring to justice those responsible for the deaths of the 14 people killed during the March 2021 protests. #JusticeForthe14 #FreeSenegal

Senegal will never forget March 2021

“Killed by a bullet in the head

while he was working”

For the families of the 14 killed during the March 2021 protests in Senegal, it is impossible to mourn their loved ones until justice and reparations are provided. Unfortunately, that day is still yet to come.

Baye Cheikh Diop was not 17 but 16 when he was killed. His birthday was just a few days later. He would have been 17 then.

He was my eldest son. He was a mechanic and was working that day in their workshop when he was shot dead.

In April 2021, Mahmoud Saleh, Chief of Staff to President Macky Sall, and others met with us to ask us to prone the peace and to not go into confrontation with the authorities. He also told us that the state was going to seek justice for us. But since that day, we haven’t heard from them, and they don’t pick up when we call.

In the autopsy, they said that it was a tear gas grenade that killed Baye Cheikh but that is not true. All the witnesses are saying that there were no tear gas grenades fired that day.

His birthday was just a few days later.

Baye Cheikh Diop's father

We did not file a complaint to preserve the peace and avoid confrontations. We can’t fight against the authorities. And since the mediators and religious authorities have spoken, we are waiting for the authorities and expect them to do us justice.

take action

It's a been a year since the tragic death of Baye Cheikh Diop, a young mechanic, killed while at work, with a bullet in the head. Authorities promised justice but are failing to deliver it. #JusticeForthe14 #FreeSenegal

Senegal will never forget March 2021

“Wrong place, wrong time”

Famara Goudiaby was 20 years old and just passed his exam to enter the university. He had to go to his native village to take care of administrative formalities. On his way back, he decided to pay a visit to his sister who lives in Bignona. It is while he was walking on the street that a stray bullet hit him. Famara was not a protester.

time for justice to be served

Unlawfull killings must never go unpunished. Families of people who died need justice urgently. They have been patient. But now is the time for answers. #JusticeForthe14 #FreeSenegal

Senegal will never forget March 2021

My brother Cheikh was killed by a police officer
while protesting. Nearly a year on,
justice has yet to be served.

Ngoné Wade, Cheikh's twin sister

8 March 2021 remains a painful memory for Cheikh Wade’s family, whom a delegation of Amnesty International, met in the neighbourhood of Cambéréne, in the Dakar suburbs. His mother Marieme** is still affected by the brutal death of her youngest son, and desperately waiting for justice to be served. For nearly a year now, human rights organizations have been standing together with the family to say no to impunity. As part of its campaign “Join us in demanding justice for the victims of Senegal’s violent repression of protests”, Amnesty International is mobilizing its members to ensure that the perpetrators of Cheikh Wade’s murder are identified and held accountable, and that peaceful protest is no longer synonymous with the risk of death.

In an op-ed published on Cheikh’s birthday, Ngoné Wade, his twin sister, calls on the authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Read the full op-ed and know more about Cheikh’s family’s fight for justice

Today is 4 February and we should have been celebrating our 33rd birthdays together but you are no longer with us!
Cheikh, my twin brother, you were one of the 14 young Senegalese who were killed in March 2021 during the protests that followed the arrest of Ousmane Sonko, a leader of the opposition. This period was marked by protests, scenes of looting, destruction of property, and clashes between demonstrators and security forces in several cities around Senegal.



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