Deaths in Linden3278 25 Jul, 2012
Ms. Kissoon: Mr. Speaker, Hon. Members of this National Assembly and citizens of Guyana, Wednesday, 18th of July, 2012 was a sad day in the history of Linden, Region 10, and Guyana. It was the day that three unarmed citizens, who were exercising their right to protest peacefully, were murdered by the Guyana Police Force which was operating under the general direction of the Minister of Home Affairs. The independent foreign pathologist has confirmed that all three men were hit through the heart, inclusive of the one shot from the back. This information makes it clear that all the victims were murdered in a well orchestrated plan. The Minister of Home Affairs must take responsibility and resign. There is now need for a criminal investigation and charges must be laid against those policemen, all of whom must be interdicted from duty.
As elected Members of the National Assembly, though a humbling opportunity to serve the people, it comes with a great responsibility and sacred duty to honour and respect the Constitution of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, its attendant laws, and ensuring that all Guyanese are equally protected under these laws. Recognising that laws are constructed with the primary intent to protect the weak from being advantaged and exploited by the strong, mighty and privilege, the Constitution of Guyana, in the following articles, sought to protect, involve and safeguard the rights of every citizen in pursuit to their economic, political and social well-being. As Members of the National Assembly, ours is equally the responsibility to ensure that our Constitution is honoured without, fear, favour or ill will.
The events of the 18th of July, 2012 at Mackenzie, Linden, where the police, the protective arm of the State, fired live ammunition, pellets and tear gas on peaceful, unarmed citizens, exercising their right to assemble and free speech on matters of importance to them was a flagrant violation of the citizens' rights by the executives, and Members of this House, both sides of this House, are called on to condemn this violation.
This unjust act resulted in murder: Mr. Shemroy Bouyea, twenty-five years old of Silvertown, Mr. Allan Wade Lewis, forty-five years old of Wismar Hill and Mr. Ron Somerset, nineteen years old of Wisroc.
Injured: Alice Shaw Barker, thirty-four years old, gunshot wounds to both thighs; Michael Roberts, fort-seven years old, of Independence Avenue, patient of the Intensive Care Unit, nursing gunshot wounds to the right side of face; Hector Solomon, twenty-three years old, of 22 Alley, Wismar, hospitalised with gunshot wounds to the chest; Ulric Michael, thirty-three years old, of 23 Canvas City, admitted to the Intensive Care Unit, nursing gunshot wounds to the chest; Reuben Bowen, fifty-six years old, of 27 Silver City, hospitalised at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) with a fractured femur and gunshot wound to the left leg; Dexter Scotland, thirty-eight years old, of 104 Victory Valley, hospitalised with trauma to the nose; Janice Burgan, fifty-two years old, of Industrial Area, Linden, hospitalised with gunshot wounds to the back; Yolanda Hinds, thirty-five years old, of 150 South Road, Silvertown, who is being kept under observation, with gunshot wounds to the right leg; Brian Charles, forty-five years old, of 30 Half Mile, Wismar, treated and sent away for trauma to the right hand; Collis Duke, twenty-six years old, of 768 South Amelias Ward, treated and sent away for gunshot wound to the left side of face; Cleveland Barker, thirty-five years old, of 114 Wisroc Housing Scheme, treated and sent away for gunshot wounds to the back; Dwight Yaw, twenty-five years old, of 23 Victory Valley, hospitalised with gunshot wounds to the left side of face; Marlon Hartman, thirty-nine years old, of Central Amelias Ward, treated for injuries sustained by rubber pellets and a gunshot wound under the left armpit; Troy Nestor, twenty-five years old, of 23 Third Alley, treated for injuries sustained by rubber pellets on his left foot; Jermaine Allicock, thirty-five years old, of 195 One Mile, Wismar, treated for gunshot wound to buttocks; Malim Spencer, thirty-nine years old, of West Watooka, treated for gunshot wound to the left shoulder; Shandra Lyte, twenty-nine years old, of John Alley, Christianburg, treated for blunt trauma to the head; Andy Bobb-Semple, thirty-four years old of 207 Cedar Street, McKenzie, treated for injuries sustained by rubber pellets to his back, side and elbow; Collin Adams, twenty-four years old of 22 Danjou Hill, treated for injuries sustained by rubber pellets to the neck and ankle; Trelon Piggot, twenty-one years old of 2338 Central Amelias Ward, treated for injuries sustained by rubber pellets to his elbows and abrasions to his left arm and under the neck. Mr. Speaker, these are a few of the persons who were injured.
Even as the nation awaits an independent and impartial inquiry into the incident, the fact remains that life in Guyana for the ordinary man has now come to mean little or nothing. This is a degeneracy we must address and send a clear message to every citizen, regardless of race, class, political persuasion or creed, that this National Assembly, here and now, is saying that every citizen has a right to life and to pursue his or her dreams under the protection of the Constitution, in an environment free from fear and threat to life or limb.
Linden has over the years been attacked economically and politically because of the choices the people make, albeit the said choices are protected in the Constitution. I refer to:
Article 13, “Objective of political system”:
“The principal objective of the political system of the State is to establish an inclusionary democracy by providing increasing opportunities for the participation of citizens, and their organisations in the management and decision-making processes of the State, with particular emphasis on those areas of decision-making that directly affect their well-being.”
Article 38, “National co-operation for development of economy”:
“It is the duty of the State, co-operatives, trade unions, other socio-economic organisations and the people through sustained and disciplined endeavours to achieve the highest possible levels of production and to develop the economy in order to ensure the realisation of the rights set out in this Chapter.”
Article 38A, “Democratic state with a healthy economy”:
“To ensure that Guyana is a democratic State with a healthy economy, the State shall- :
(a) facilitate the engagement of citizens in activities designed to achieve their sustainable livelihoods;
(b) progressively remove the barriers that prohibit or limit the realisation of the potential for self-sustaining activities in such fields as agriculture, processing, manufacturing and artistic and information-based activities;
(c) encourage and support the self-mobilization of citizens; and
(d) provide appropriate support to any group which is, or is claiming to be, under threat of marginalisation.”
Article 77, “Regional development programme to be integrated into the national development plans”:
“The development programme of each region shall be integrated into the national development plans, and the Government shall allocate funds to each region to enable it to implement its development programme.”
“Except with his own consent, no person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of expression, that is to say, freedom to hold opinions without interference, freedom to receive ideas and information without interference, freedom to communicate ideas and information without interference and freedom from interference with his correspondence.”
Article 149C, “Right to participate in decision-making process of the State”:
“No person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of participating through co-operatives, trade unions, civic or socio-economic organizations of a national character, in the management and decision-making processes of the State.”
Being present and observed the event, which took place on the 18th of July, 2012, there is need for a comprehensive investigation into the brutal shootings.
The Region 10 Chairman, Mr. Sharma Solomon, was addressing citizens at the middle of the Wismar-Mackenzie bridge and immediately after he concluded he, and other members of the of the leadership of the community, left the vicinity of the Mackenzie shore, but was immediately advised by a citizen to go to the Wismar end and address the people on the other side, and within two minutes the police opened fire on citizens, wounding and killing peaceful citizens involved in peaceful protest. For some strange reason, the shooting occurred at the time when Mr.
Solomon and members of the leadership team would have been at the head of the bridge, on the Mackenzie shore, which gave rise to the strange view in Linden that it was a plot to assassinate the Chairman of the region and members of the team.
Mr. Speaker: I was slightly distracted. You made a statement of assassination. Go back to that.
Ms Kissoon: For some strange reason, the shooting occurred at the time when Mr.
Solomon and the leadership team would have been at the head of the bridge on the MacKenzie shore, which gave rise to the strange view in Linden that it was a plot to assassinate the Chairman of the region and members of the leadership team, and this House must not take this issue lightly.
There were women and children, unarmed, on the 18th of July and as the Chairman of the region, myself and some other members of the community got to the end of the Mackenzie bridge, when the Chairman turned back, I went forward, assisting two elderly women, because tear gas was being fired at persons who were on the corner of the road. They were nowhere close to the bridge. One young lady, who was twelve years old, was affected by the tear gas. [Mrs. Backer: It was a child.] It was a child, sorry, who was affected by tear gas. I assisted that child by wiping her face with a wet rag. When we got them to safety, persons began running, screaming, and all I heard was “a man was shot and killed”. A male nurse who went to render assistance to the man who was shot, he also was fired at by the police while waving his white tee shirt in the air. Four gentlemen picked up the man, who was shot, and came running when a police officer ran, just past me, because I was in that vicinity, and persons were screaming, “He killed him; he killed the man.” The police officer turned around and fired a shot straight at me.
I assisted the gentlemen to carry the young man who was bleeding profusely, blood was running, and the nurse advised that we should keep his head lean so that the blood would have drained. We went into the ambulance and took him to the hospital. It was after that man was admitted to the hospital he was pronounced dead; bodies kept rolling into the hospital; blood was all over. Persons came in shot either in their back, their hands, their feet, legs or thighs. Then the body of Mr. Ron Somerset came in, who had a single gunshot straight to the left side chest. Other bodies came in, and then the body of Mr. Shemroy Bouyea came in and he was also lifeless.
At this time, I will like to take the opportunity to congratulate the nurses and the doctors at the Mackenzie Hospital who would have worked to ensure the lives of those persons who were injured…and that there was no other fatality. It was a gruesome sight and I say the people of Linden and the innocent blood of those three young men are crying for justice. We need justice, Mr. Speaker.
While it is true that the President did made a statement within hours of the tragedy, what cannot be denied is that the President had already abrogated his responsibility…
Mr. Speaker: Ms. Kissoon, the President’s name cannot be used as an inference of a debate, so move away from that.
Ms. Kissoon: Alright Mr. Speaker, I would not continue, but I will ask the question, as the residents of Linden and Region 10 would like to know, that if there is one Government for Tain and a different Government for Linden and Region 10.
The Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. Clement Rohee, sought to lay blame on every other persons, but has refused to accept responsibility for the event, in as much as he is the Minister, that deals with policy directions. In as much as a similar infraction occurred on December 6, 2011 when another group of unarmed persons engaged in a peaceful exercise and were shot by the police in Georgetown. Hon. Member James Bond, sitting right beside me, was one of the many whose rights were violated and still carry pellets in his body. This is the twenty-first century and when other countries have moved forward in ensuring better police/crowd control and protection by the police for citizens to engage in legitimate pursuit, there is a police force under the supervision of the Minister, Mr. Clement Rohee as Minister of Home Affairs, engaging in these acts of barbarity.
On behalf the citizens of Region 10 and, I can say unequivocally, on behalf of every law abiding citizen this barbaric behaviour must end. The last such incident must be the 18th of July, 2012. Seven days after the shroud of doom, hopeless, despair and flight hangs over this beautiful land and it will not be lifted until justice is served for those whose lives were martyred, injured and for every Guyanese across the length and breadth of this country. This is our time to send a message to citizens of this land and those who do business with this country that we can pick ourselves up by adhering to good policing, respecting the rights of citizens and addressing grievances in a mature and timely manner. The continued failure by the Minister, Mr. Clement Rohee, to give proper guidance to members of the police force, which is intended to ensure the security of citizens in their daily lawful pursuit, does a disservice to us as a nation, because it tells the world we are prepared to condone violations by lawmakers. This is not who we are or who we ought to be.
As such it becomes the responsibility and duty of this honourable House to distance itself from the Minister, Mr. Clement Rohee's management of our internal security as we cast a no confidence motion in his stewardship to guarantee our security to life and the protection of our rights. His departure from office paves the way for an impartial inquiry free from his interference. Today the world is watching us and today we have to show the world that when called upon to do the right thing we can deliver.
In closing, I would like this honourable House to know that all Guyana, including supporters of the PPP/C, either openly or privately, has condemned these brutal killings by the Guyana Killing Force.
I would also like to take this opportunity to extend deepest condolences to the families, relatives and friends of Mr. Allan Wade Lewis, Mr. Ron Somerset and Mr. Shemroy Bouyea who lost their lives on that bloody Wednesday. The 18th of July, 2012 will forever be remembered, not only in Linden, or Guyana, but all across this world.
May their souls rest in peace.
I thank you. [Applause]
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