News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. July 20, 2012: The New York-based Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy has strongly condemned the July 18th police shooting to death of three unarmed protestors in Guyana’s mining town of Linden.
The three were part of a large demonstration protesting a 50 percent increase in electricity rates. Protestors reportedly blocked the Wismar Bridge in the mining town, which facilitates vehicular traffic to and from the country’s vast and natural resources rich hinterland region. This prompted riot police sent in from Georgetown to fire teargas and rubber bullets.
Protestors responded by throwing stones and teargas canisters back at police who responded with live rounds, killing three and wounding dozens.
Calling for a Commission of Inquiry into the shooting, the Institute labeled Guyana’s People’s Progressive Party government “a communist, Indian-dominated ethnocracy, which views the inalienable and constitutional rights of African-Guyanese to protest as subversive.” It said historically the PPP has acted to crush such dissent.”
In a strongly worded statement, CGID President Rickford Burke said: “These killings are a wanton slaughter of African-Guyanese by Guyana Police – acting like a PPP Gestapo Force. Afro-Guyanese are under subjugation by an ethnocracy. The peoples of the Caribbean region must express outrage at these killings and solidarity with the black population in Guyana.”
Burke said he believes in national unity but had an obligation to fight unbridled PPP injustice and racism.
“They used these tactics to divide and destroy Guyana in the 1960s. Now it’s ‘déjà vu’ all over again,” he said, asking: “What democratic government will shoot and kill protestors who block a bridge? The PPP regime has entered the realm of despotic governments like The Sudan, Libya, Syria, Egypt and others. All of these regimes massacred their own citizens but were ultimately defeated by the people – democracy and the rule of law prevail. This is my message to the PPP government.”
Sharma Solomon, Regional Chairman of Region Ten – Upper Demerara/Berbice, the geographic and local government administration with jurisdiction over Linden, yesterday confirmed that three males have been killed, including Ron Somerset, a Guyana Defense Force officer. Solomon also confirmed several injuries and said many were admitted to hospital. Demerara Waves news service has quoted the Chairman as saying the town was “in pandemonium.”
Burke said the buck stopped at President Donald Ramotar and Home Affairs and National Security Minister Clement Rohee who allegedly instructed Police Commissioner Leroy Brummell to fire at protestors. He assailed Rohee, describing him as a “crazed ego-maniac with an alleged criminal history and alleged ties to criminals” who is unworthy of the national security portfolio. He also said Brummell bears equal responsibility as Rohee, as under international law Police forces have a right to refuse to carry out instructions from politicians that are unlawful.
He urged Opposition Leader Brigadier David Granger to be more assertive, saying: “I hope Mr. Granger as leader of the party that is the political representative of the people of Linden will relinquish his none-confrontational posture and adopt political measures to wrest from the government a genuine account of the chain of command and who issued the orders to shoot. He must also understand that his supporters expect him to ensure criminal prosecutions must be a consequence of any inquiry or a term of resolution of this horrific incident.”
The Institute’s President called on Guyana President Ramotar and the Parliament to appoint separate Commissions of Inquiry into the killings and urged that “supporting investigators be drawn from overseas.”
Late Wednesday night several government buildings were reportedly ablaze, including the offices of the government’s Inland Revenue Department. Prime Minister Samuel Hinds further angered residence with a statement condemning the protest and expressing regret at the disruption of business. He made no reference to the killings nor offered any form of condolences.
Burke slammed Hinds’ comments, saying “obviously these are the insensitive sentiments of a coward whom the public regard as a buffoon. After 19 years in political life he is still coarse and uncivil. This is the level of indignity which Guyanese suffer.’
The police have issued a statement calling for calm and the government today announced that the military has been called out to patrol the town. President Donald Ramotar who has remained silent and out of sight has now scheduled an emergency meeting with opposition Leader David Granger who made an emergency visit to Linden Wednesday night.
He visited shooting victims at the McKenzie hospital as well as grieving relatives of those killed.