Special Report on the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry by Shaun Michael Samaroo

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Lawyer Basil Williams, Mayor Hamilton Green and Deputy Mayor Patricia Chase-Green at the Walter Rodney CoI yesterday

GDF implicated in Walter Rodney’s killing
– as Hamilton concludes testimony
– former Army Chief of Staff, Norman McLean, takes the stand today

TRUTH became a watchword at the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry into the assassination of Dr Rodney, with yesterday’s testimony sounding a note of intense emotion. The dark, sinister political intrigue and conspiracies between the PNC Government and Rabbi Washington’s religious sect makes for gripping drama.Joseph Hamilton spent several minutes at the end of the day, with the Commission’s work pushing past 4 pm, in a dramatic emotional apology to Guyanese citizens, the leaders of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA), the wife of Dr Rodney, Patricia Rodney, and the children and relatives of Rodney, and his own wife and sons.

The dark, sinister political intrigue and conspiracies between the PNC Government and Rabbi Washington’s religious sect makes for gripping drama.

“I am profoundly sorry. I profoundly apologize for my role in generating at the time an oppressive and terrorizing atmosphere that may have contributed to the demise of Dr Rodney, and to the oppressing and terrorizing of members of political parties, including the WPA, citizens and people of Guyana, the family and relatives of all those who were in harm’s way or may have been impacted by the violence, beatings and threats that I was involved in,” Hamilton said.
Responding to pointed and straightforward questions from Counsel for the WPA, Christopher Ram, during the afternoon, Hamilton said had Rodney not been “killed”, he would have contributed an enormous amount to the leadership of this country in “transforming the governance and leadership” of Guyana.
Hamilton’s testimony lasted three full days at the Commission, and attracted a packed courtroom every day, with the audience in rapt attention, hanging on to his words with nail-gripping interest.

Joseph Hamilton spent several minutes at the end of the day, with the Commission’s work pushing past 4 pm, in a dramatic emotional apology to Guyanese citizens, the leaders of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA), the wife of Dr Rodney, Patricia Rodney, and the children and relatives of Rodney, and his own wife and sons.
“I am profoundly sorry. I profoundly apologize for my role in generating at the time an oppressive and terrorizing atmosphere that may have contributed to the demise of Dr Rodney, and to the oppressing and terrorizing of members of political parties, including the WPA, citizens and people of Guyana, the family and relatives of all those who were in harm’s way or may have been impacted by the violence, beatings and threats that I was involved in,” Hamilton said.

In his final statement, he quoted Martin Luther King to say “I am finally free”, and Commission Chairman Sir Richard Cheltenham expressed his own thanks to Hamilton for his testimony, noting that he must imagine how Hamilton feels, now that his “burden that he carried all this time” is relieved.
Hamilton said his conscience is now clear that he has testified to his role in “Guyana’s darkest days”, which led to the bomb-blast assassination of the world-famous scholar, Dr Rodney, on June 13, 1980 in Georgetown.
“I testified because of my conscience,” Hamilton said, “and because I want my country never to relive that history, ever again. I want the young people of this nation to know what went on”, and to guard Guyana against ever going through that dark terror again, he said.
He answered with a resounding “yes” when Counsel Ram asked him if the death of Rodney amounted to “terrorism”.
Hamilton served as top leader of the shadowy religious sect under the iron grip of Rabbi Washington, which called itself the House of Israel. He also served on the Executive of the People’s National Congress (PNC).

“I testified because of my conscience and because I want my country never to relive that history, ever again. I want the young people of this nation to know what went on…and to guard Guyana against ever going through that dark terror again” – Joe Hamilton

His devastating testimony saw aggressive cross examination from Counsel for the PNC, Basil Williams, who accused Hamilton of being a “snitch” and a “whistleblower”. Hamilton agreed that he was in the role of whistleblower at the Commission.
The Commission resumes this morning with former head of the Guyana Defence Force, Mr Norman McLean scheduled to testify.

ARMY PLAYED A SINISTER ROLE

In his three days on the stand, Hamilton testified that the GDF played a sinister role in Guyana at the time, supplying guns and ammunition to “oppressing and terrorizing” members of the religious sect.
When Counsel Christopher Ram suggested that the GDF may have had a hand in the death of Dr Rodney, Hamilton readily answered “yes”.

Joe Hamilton during his closing testimony yesterday
Joe Hamilton during his closing testimony yesterday

The Inquiry is evolving into an emotional drama of deep historical significance, with Counsel representing Trade Unions, Canadian-based lawyer Selwyn Pieters, praising the Commission members for how they conduct the hearings, and suggesting also that there’s an air of probing for “truth” emerging. His reference seemed to have been to the Truth and Reconciliation work of Nelson Mandela in South Africa, which probed the murky and dangerous political history of that nation.
Sir Cheltenham also echoed that sentiment of “truth” at one point, and the extensive and deep-hearted emotional apology from Hamilton at the day’s end from the stand resonated that theme with profound feeling.
Hamilton said he testified because, by exposing the mysterious inner hidden shadows that generated the darkest days in Guyana’s history, he hoped Guyana would never again experience such a dysfunctional state.
Over the three days, his testimony exposed the shadowy depths of “oppressive and terrorizing” political intrigue that gripped Guyana during the period under probe, from 1978 – 1980.
PNC Counsel Williams sought to establish that Hamilton’s entire statement to the Commission, and revelations during testimony and cross examination, were “lies”. Hamilton rejected that, and said he was there to clear his conscience and reveal the truth, so that his sons, his wife and him could be relieved of his shadowy past, which included in rigging national elections.

Members of the Walter Rodney’s Commission of Inquiry, from left, Trinidadian Mr Seenath Jairam, Barbadian Sir Richard Cheltenham and Jamaican Mrs Jacqueline Samuels-Brown (Adrian Narine photos)
Members of the Walter Rodney’s Commission of Inquiry, from left, Trinidadian Mr Seenath Jairam, Barbadian Sir Richard Cheltenham and Jamaican Mrs Jacqueline Samuels-Brown (Adrian Narine photos)

The Commission encourages people to testify, in the interest of finding out who assassinated Dr Walter Rodney, and why he died so violently. His bomb-blast death has hung over the Guyanese nation for 38 years, as the major political assassination in the history of the Anglophone Caribbean.
This sense of deep history, of unearthing secrets and shadows that plunged this nation into mourning one of its most outstanding international scholars, is starting to shape the Rodney Commission of Inquiry into a significant, historical and crucial undertaking.
Hamilton, who followed in the witness stand after Mr Eusi Kwayana had also provided revealing testimony to the Commission after travelling to Georgetown from the U.S. where he now resides, revealed ominous political conspiracies to stifle opposition dissent in Georgetown and Linden.
Sir Cheltenham, noting that President Donald Ramotar promised to pardon anyone who gave self-incriminating evidence to the Commission, urged people to speak up, and told Hamilton that he could openly talk of his role.
Hamilton, a close confidante of Rabbi Washington, exposed the religious sect functioning under the iron grip of its founder and leader, the self-styled Rabbi, as involved in criminal activities, including contraband smuggling, oppressing and terrorizing political opponents of the PNC Government, and systematic bribery of PNC Government officials.
In fact, the religious sect provided contraband food, acquired through its smuggling, and through a clandestine operation at the then State-owned Guyana Pharmaceutical Corporation (GPC), to members of the Government, including some ministers of Government, Hamilton said.
He said the Government granted an island in the Essequibo River, “as large as Barbados in land size”, to the religious sect, “for agriculture purposes”.
Unfolding at the Commission is a depth of dark, deceptive, deadly alliance between the sinister religious sect, and the PNC Government.
The religious sect established itself in Guyana after its founder, Rabbi Washington, also known as David Hill Jr., had fled the U.S. to Guyana after committing a crime there and becoming a wanted man by U.S. justice.
He found refuge in Guyana, and established the religious sect, becoming a tool of the Government to oppress and terrorize political opponents of the PNC Government, Hamilton said. Around this time in Guyana’s history, too, another sinister religious organization had established itself in the country from the U.S., in Jim Jones’ cult, granted State land at Jonestown in the hinterland. That religious sect would commit the world’s deadliest mass suicide in the history of the world, when 978 of its fanatic followers died at Jonestown in 1978, the period under probe. A U.S. Congressman also died, gunned down at the site.
Though this aspect of the period under probe at the Commission has not come up at the Commission, it offers a background into why Rabbi Washington may have established himself as a religious sect in Guyana that had, according to Hamilton, become powerful and well-connected in the PNC Government at the time.
Mayor Hamilton Green, whose name came up several times in Hamilton’s testimony, spent hours in the audience listening to his former political colleague testify. He sat in the front row in silence, and whenever his name was mentioned, he sat silent.
Close to him were leaders of the WPA, including Dr Rupert Roopnarine, who is also scheduled to testify at the Commission.
The moment, of the Commission probing this aspect of the history of Guyana, with Caribbean Commissioners presiding, in Barbadian Sir Cheltenham, Trinidadian Mr Seenath Jairam, and Jamaican Mrs Jacqueline Samuels-Brown, and with Dr Roopnarine sitting in close proximity to Hamilton Green, who served in high positions of the PNC Government during the time under probe, and whose name repeatedly came up in Hamilton’s testimony, spoke of history unfolding.
And Hamilton said that he testified because he hopes young Guyanese would now know the official story of that history, and never allow it to be ever repeated in this nation.
That dark period resulted in Dr Rodney’s assassination; the major political assassination in the history of the English-speaking Caribbean.

Today, former Army Chief of Staff, Norman McLean, takes the stand, in a story that is developing into a gripping tale of dark political intrigue involving the PNC political party and its deceptive and sinister devices to steal political power while in Government during the period under probe, and a self-styled Rabbi, himself a US criminal fugitive who crowned his religious priests as kings and princes and queens, and who built a fanatic religious sect that felt no qualm in acquiring guns from the GDF and using batons to beat Guyanese citizens expressing their political voice, and bribing PNC Government leaders and members of the Judiciary.