Death and Death by Violent Means2716 30 Jul, 2012
Mr. Morian: It is very important for me as a resident of Linden to support this motion in its entirety. I want to use my time to do two things: to bring some insight to what happened on the night of the 18th of July and to respond to some of the conjectures and innuendos that I have heard, but, most pointedly, I would refuse to respond to the honourable Bishop. It is difficult for me to invoke a mind of mental instability, a maniac of depression to respond to his submission. I will treat it as a bend in the road, or a bump on the road, and move on.
Mr. Speaker, in such a debate when charges are laid against the Hon. Minister of Home Affairs, one looks for his colleagues to respond to show how his stewardship has improved the security situations in Guyana. One would have felt that his colleagues would have shared with this House that the people of Guyana are satisfied with security measures here. Instead, I got the distinct impression that the Hon. Minister was now applying for this job and they are all writing references on his behalf. Hence their submission has really failed to bring the whole debate into proper context.
On the night of the 18th July 2012, I was there. The Hon. Bishop was not there; he got second-hand information. The procession was led by local leaders of the church. The demonstration was supposed to be completed at the square of what was once the Guyana Stores building. When the church leaders and community leaders passed over the Bridge, we were in the rear with a vehicle, a truck, and when the vehicle met in the middle of the Bridge, a young lady on that vehicle said, “We will take a pit stop for water.” I guess the Bishop did not know that. After about 45 minutes, the organisers at the front of the demonstration came down the Bridge and said that it was time for us to move. The persons on the Bridge said, “We will not move now. We are still drinking water.” Somebody requested, where are the pictures? The pictures will be brought out at the time of the inquest, but we have them. The people were singing hymns and another set of people were singing patriotic songs. I was walking on the left hand side of the Bridge; the Chairman was on the right hand side of the Bridge and I am availing myself for any investigation - availing myself.
The sad thing here is that the policemen from Linden were all on the Bridge. I showed some of the pictures that I captured on my phone to some Members of the opposite side, that the policemen were there being sheltered with umbrellas by the very people who were supposed to be making trouble. When the black clothes police arrived in the vicinity, and they took up formation that years ago we used to call pepper pot, where five policemen would be in front and four would be behind filling up the slots, they advanced towards the people who were standing and singing. The people themselves, those who were sitting, stood up and the police, as somebody said, withdrew. The singing continued. While we were singing, without warning, the policemen, as somebody said, had a paper lifted. The writing was so small, but the fact that I have been in a number of protests before and have seen protests, I can imagine it was some statement saying that it was time to disperse from the Bridge.
The Hon. Minister of Home Affairs said - I listened to him on the television - that it was impossible for the policemen to be using handsets to talk to people in Georgetown. He dropped in handsets. They were talking on their phones and I would swear under oath that the policeman in khaki clothes said to somebody, “Sir, we have this thing under control. The people are peaceful.” Twice he said that. I heard that. Twice he said it. These were the policemen from Linden. The black clothes policemen advanced toward the crowd. I never felt that it would have gone to shooting. I turned my back walking to the Wismar Shore and before I knew it, was tear smoke. What made this thing so deadly is that it was not tear gas, it was tear smoke so people were running blindly in the midst of gunshots. When I cleared the Bridge and turned back, a youngster fell next to me dead. I helped to lift that youngster and put him in the minibus. Shots were being fired in the smoke, hence one was running blindly. The “good” Bishop was not there.
I saw pictures that reminded me of the Russian Gulag when there was riot in the Russian Gulag, and what took place in places like Bergen-Belsen, Auschwitz and Stalingrad Love Tree at a time when we would want to forget. I saw human beings – mothers, children and young people - turn their backs and were shot in their backs. Under no convention, Sir, would policemen be allowed to shoot at fleeing people, even if it were with rubber bullets and pellets. These are the things that I saw. If the question could be answered why I was not shot, then you should ask why the thousand were not shot. Some people were shot.
I heard one of the Hon. Members speak concerning the effects on forestry and the Hon. Member did state that a high cost is being exerted everyday as it relates to the activities in the forestry sector. I am still awaiting that Minister to ascribe a cost to the lives of the people who were murdered and those persons who were wounded. At this point, I am laying claim that the families of the members who were killed need to be compensated and compensation is also due for the persons who were injured in Region 10. Someone said that the bauxite industry is not functioning. What that person should have done was to go and see that the workers were part of the picket line everyday. It is easy for the Hon. Member on the other side to trivialise situations that have caused the death of human beings and the maiming of human beings. I remember some people were being nostalgic as they were looking back, but I remembered Rosa Parks who entered that bus. She recognised that it was her right and that she was tired and would sit in front. She recognised also that it was just for her to do that. We at Linden recognise that it is our right and justice, when a force that feels greater than ourselves would want to legislate on us prices and tariffs beyond our reach, for us to stand up and deal with such a force.
In the midst of all of the pain and hurt in Region No. 10, we had a rest pit for a comedy when the water cannon came to Linden. In the midst of all the pain and hurts, I look at the most serious issue that it is not just for the moral and killings that the Minister should go, but to spend $37 million dollars of taxpayer’s money on such a travesty, a relict or derelict vehicle, I think he should go. It is important for me to, for those persons who were not present, share that at length and at last this derelict structure reached the Bridge and try as they might the water was not coming through the cannon at the top; it was coming from the bottom of the vehicle. Hence, in the midst of the pain, this provided a brief rest pit as I said.
One of the Hon. Members spoke that we could have found a way to negotiate and to talk on this issue. What is noteworthy here is that we have tried numerous times to engage the Hon. Prime Minister on this issue. I want to take our minds back to about three years ago. About three years ago, the Hon. Prime Minister brought to Linden - and he said it was a gift from Cuba - over 5,000 energy saving bulbs. When these bulbs were utilised in the homes of the residents, what was noted at the bauxite company was that one of the generators had to be turned off because of the volume of electricity that were being consumed. We engaged the Hon. Prime Minister and said that this is the negotiation: the Government could either give the Linden Utility Services Co-operative Society Limited (LUSCSL) an import licence to bring in these bulbs or you bring them in. The Prime Minister engaged us to the extent that we were told to identify shops at Wismar and McKenzie that will sell these bulbs. So to say here that we never utilised the opportunity to negotiate is falsehood.
A plan for economic development was submitted by the Regional Democratic Council (RDC). We boast of being one of the only RDCs in Guyana that provided and submitted to the Government, through the Hon. Prime Minister, a five-year development plan. Hence, the point I am bringing here is that we of Region No. 10, at every opportunity, strive to have dialogue with the Government, looking for alternative route to move past this whole situation of high tariffs for the people of Linden. Every step of the way, nothing was done on the part of the Government. I submit today that the call for the resignation is just. The buck stops at the Minister of Home Affairs.
Someone spoke of the Government Intervention and Development Plan in Region No. 10 and spoke of the building of roads. I submit to you that 65% of all the roads in Region No. 10 are in a state of disrepair. As we speak, the Global Women’s Strike is protesting and speaking out on our behalf in Region 10. The Caribbean Labour Solidarity is speaking out about the atrocities committed in Region 10. Chhattisgarh Women’s Organisation of India has lent its voice to condemn the actions that took place in Region No. 10. Groups from Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica, Argentina, Bolivia, the Congo, Cyprus, Italy, Nigeria, Peru, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Sweden and Zambia yesterday and today were and are speaking out against the atrocities that took place in Region No. 10 and they are all calling that where ever the buck stops, such a person or persons should be removed.
Mr. Speaker, the question was asked: what got us to where we are? I submit tonight that we all live in Guyana and over the past five years the murders, police brutality, and the killings went on unabated. We all look to the Ministry of Home Affairs for the kind of leadership and guidance that will chart a new course in Guyana. Install national security so that all citizens will feel safe. The fact that this has failed has contributed to what took place in Region 10 where the policemen felt that they will not be censured if they murder Guyanese because they have done it once, twice, thrice, et cetera.
The other thing that got us here is that the people and their leaders have failed to have an audience with the Government to discuss this whole business of increased tariffs. And when a people have reached the place where no one is listening, then people will march looking for equal rights and justice. We at Region No. 10 recognised that we are all part of Guyana and equality is part of human life. And if we are equal, it is important that we have audience with the President and the Minister of Home Affairs as we discuss matters of importance to Region No. 10.
In conclusion, I support, again, this motion in its entirety and I close by encouraging my good brother, the Bishop, that when we are speaking about the loss of human lives, it is important for us to go pass political jargons, innuendos, conjectures, grand standing and understand the pain that mothers, fathers and families are enduring right now. And even before the killings, Region 10 was enduring tremendous pressure because of the economic situation there. This is added burden. Hence, I submit to you, my brother... [Interruption]
Mr. Speaker: A Bishop and a Pastor have the same connotation. The Greek word has the same origin.
Mr. Morian: They do not know that. Thanks for the edification. I submit to you, St. John 10:10. It says:
“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.”
“I am come that they might have life [not murder, life] and that they might have it more abundantly.”
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