Death and Death by Violent Means2984 30 Jul, 2012
Mr. D. Trotman: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I stand here to support, unapologetically, the motion standing in name of the Leader of the Opposition. I believe that it is the motion which aptly describes what the situation is and where we should go. In supporting the motion, I want to make it clear that I do so as a person, who on July 18th witnessed some of the events that took place and will speak at firsthand about some of those events. I want, before going into my detailed explanation of what I witnessed, to say this that I am prepared to stand before a Commission of Inquiry and give evidence on what I saw on July 18th. What I saw, in my opinion, amounted to murder and cannot be described any other way. I want, however, to offer deepest condolences to those Linden Martyrs who lost their lives on July 18th. I want at the same time to express best wishes for a full and complete recovery to those persons who suffered injuries in the day of mayhem that occurred.
Murder cannot be excused and should not be excused and cannot be justified. Murder is murder and on July 18th murder took place in McKenzie and as I am being reminded here by the Hon. Sister, it was cold blooded and it is the best way we can describe it.
I went to Linden on July 18th to lend my support to the Linden community. Mr. Speaker, I want to say that I did so unapologetically because I believe that the people of Linden were involved in a just exercise. It was just because for a community that was facing economic hardships, the attempt or the imposition by Government of the electricity rates, which Government was fully aware would provide untold burdens to that community, had to be resisted. I believed that the people of Linden were within their rights to express their anger had the imposition and to demonstrate how they felt about the imposition. I want to say that what I witnessed was the most peaceful of demonstrations by a set of people who were very concern that they were being trample on by the rootlessness of a Government who believe that they needed to settle scores.
When I arrived in Linden I joined the march of thousands of people which was coming from the Palm Tree Cinema I believed. People marched and they were chanting, but they were peaceful. They met up with another march that was coming from, I believe, One Mile. When they got to the bridge, some moved across, some stayed on the bridge and some stayed on the Wismar side. Throughout the day that was the kind of exercise that was going on. I was moving from one side of the bridge to the other talking to people, finding out how they felt about what they were engaged in. One of the things that really struck me was that they were hoping that the Government would have responded to their entreaties to meet with them and to discuss finding a resolution to the problems that they were faced with.
When I hear Ministers lamenting the facts that the protest is creating hardship in other places, those Ministers must come to understand that the way in which it is, the Government’s approach to this situation, they have to accept the blame for what ensued. If the Government had taken the time to go and meet and talk to the people when they asked them to, what had ensued would not have ensued and you have to accept the blame for that. [Interruption]
The situation throughout the day, as I said, was peaceful, but if it was left to the police, by 10 O’clock that day a serious situation would have arisen. What is the situation thatI am talking about? On the McKenzie side, Commander Hicken, if that is his name, had under his control a set of black clothes policemen in a pickup truck. He ordered them to load their guns, note the time. At 10 O’clock he ordered the police to load their guns and instructed the police to drive at a rapid rate into the crowd of people, who were standing there, doing nothing, but talking to each other. [Interruption] Under those instructions the driver took off heading straight to the crowd, but when it was he realised the crowd was not moving, he, on his own, swerved and braked-up.
I went to Commander Hickens and I said to him, “What do you hope to prove by this act of intimidation? Why should you instruct your men to load their guns and to drive into a crowd?” I said, “All that these people are doing is protesting peacefully.”
And he smiled and he smiled and for me that signal that the police were prepared to do the worst at some point in time during the course of the day. Mr. Speaker, if you were there you would have been impressed by the lawful behaviour of the citizens. In fact, I described what occurred that day as a culture-fest. People were on the Wismar side of the bridge, jukeboxes blaring, people drinking, eating on the bridge itself. African drums were beaten; people were dancing; poetry reading was being done; hymns singing and there was no sign that those people were prepared to go to any form of violence.
When the forces from Georgetown arrived at about 1.40 p.m. and they began to move towards the crowd the people stood there and some of them were begging the police, “If it is you all come to shoot, do not shoot. Do not shoot my black brothers, do not shoot. We are protesting here peacefully. Some of you are affected by this. Your relatives might be affected by this. Do not shoot.” At a certain point in time they retreated and went some place. At about 5.30 in the afternoon they began to make their way back towards the scene of the protest demonstrations. Mr. Speaker, lest I forget, let me tell you that in that crowd of people there were women and children in large numbers - women and children in large numbers. They were there as part of the protest, in all colours and shades, because there were not only APNU supporters who were protesting; there were AFC supporters and there were PPP supporters also. What eventuated should be something of concern to the Members of this House on the other side.
When the police came back they hoisted something white in the air and the people said, “Look, they came under a flag of truce. They came not to harm anybody, but they came under a flag of truce.” Then they began to advance and there was the use of the tear gas, pellets and then the bullets. I want to say to Minister Ms. Priya Manickchand, who wants to believe that people want to use that opportunity to get into power through the back door, that I have lost every vestige of respect that I have had for you because if you were there…
Mr. Speaker: Hon. Member Mr. Trotman, let us not descend into that personal onslaught. You may say so to a person, if you wish, when you meet that person privately. Please move on.
Mr. D. Trotman: Mr. Speaker, if you have seen women who had to resort to protecting their children the best way they could in order to get away from the tear gas and the bullets you would understand my anger at the Minister’s statement. I saw young children vomiting their insides out from the tear gas. I saw young children vomiting their insides out and when I heard this nonsense about people were attempting to use that opportunity to get power through the back door I understand that the advocacy which people speak of, used to advance on behalf of women and children, was not true. It could not be, because if she had any semblance of feelings she would understand…
Mr. Speaker: I think that the point has been made about your feeling about the statement made and I am asking you not to dwell there. Let us move on please.
Mr. D. Trotman: This motion, I believe, is a motion which must be supported. My colleague, the Hon. Member Mr. Moses Nagamootoo, made reference to the answers which Minister Rohee made on 27th June in this House in response to the Hon. Member Mr. Winston Felix’s questions. When those answers were perused, the impression, which was got, was that the Minister was flaunting his intellectual capacity when it was that he posed his answers. He talked about statements which people made and gave the impression that he was on top of the security situation and was well prepared for any eventually that would have taken place.
I have an explanation for what took place on 18th July, because I believe that the event of 18th July was not an accident. It was not an accident. It was an act carried out by policemen, I believe, under the instructions of the political directorate. That is my belief. I believe that the political directorate on 18th July found themselves in a quandary. I think that they thought that they were losing control of the Mackenzie situation. They felt that the Mackenzie situation may spread to other parts of the country and they took a decision, I believe, to break it even at the serious cost that it could have had. I think they felt that if it was that they gave the order to shoot and the police went up and shot people there would be a furore that would last for a short time and after that it would have died away. They took that decision believing, as I said, that response would be one of anger, but would only last for a short time. We have to understand that when a Government acts in that way the people have to be worried about what and where their future lies.
This motion, as I said, amply addresses the situation and it must prevail and we must vote solidly for this motion and we must reject the amendment proposed by the Hon. Prime Minister because it fails to address what the true situation is.
Thank you. Mr. Speaker. [Applause]
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