Special Report on the Rodney Commission of Inquiry by Shaun Michael Samaroo
Laurie Lewis wrote, mailed Teekah death threat
– Crime Chief Leslie James tells Rodney Commission
– Confidential Special Branch Memo identifies Laurie Lewis’ handwriting
SECRET Police Special Branch files made public yesterday for the first time reveal how and why Guyana sank to rank with Haiti as the poorest country in the Americas under the Government of the People’s National Congress (PNC), leaving the nation still struggling to recover from the stigma even to this day.
Dark paranoia, political conspiracy, death threats and State violence show up in Police files containing secret information of the repressive days of authoritarian rule under the PNC Government in Guyana.
Police files that Crime Chief, Senior Superintendent Leslie James made available to the ongoing Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry reveal the depths of shocking paranoia and deep suspicion that underlined how the PNC Government ruled Guyana, and perceived political opponents.
‘Teekah’s husband, Vincent Teekah, died on October 24, 1979 under suspicious circumstances, and widespread allegations ever since have implicated the PNC in his assassination. He was Minister of Education in the PNC Government at the time of his murder’
Although Counsels and Commission members at the Presidential Commission grapple with the shock of the vast amount of records missing from the Guyana Police Force (GPF) and the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), the files
that do show up have unearthed how grotesque the PNC dictatorship became in seeking to maintain its grip on authoritarian political power.
Crime Chief James submitted two damning documents to the Commission that show how disturbed and paranoid the PNC dictatorship acted.
James’ Police Special Branch files show that on December 21, 1979, a Confidential Memo, labelled SF 1827, with marking ‘A. C, 100/18/3’, from the Office of the Commissioner, Force Headquarters, Eve Leary, to the Special Branch, said the following, under the letter reference: “Threat letter to Mrs V. Teekah”: “I forward the attached copy letter for your information and necessary action. I ought to let you know that the original, which is with the Asst. Commissioner ‘Crime’ was rec’d from the Post Office and sent on to the Police.”
Below that letter is a hand-written note with the initials “RS”: “This is Laurie Lewis’ handwriting. Treat as WPA target.” The document bears two signatures, with dates of 20 and 21 December, 1979. The one page is also stamped and dated.
Senior Superintendent James told the Commission yesterday that the ‘Memo’ at reference refers to another document in files found at Police Special Branch. This other document is a handwritten note, bearing the mark 1826. It reads as follows:
“Mrs TEEKAH (sic), We are going to kill you just like we did your husband. He was a traitor to the Guyanese people, and he deserved to be shot. We are observing you, and very soon we will kill you. We will kill all traitors of Guyana. No one will be spared, including Forbes Burnham. Look out for us.”
The death threat is signed ‘The Red Brigade (Guyana Branch)’.
Crime Chief James confirmed, following a direct query from Commission member Seenath Jairam, that the Confidential Memo, labelled 1827, referred to the handwritten note numbered 1826, in identifying the note as Laurie Lewis’ handwriting.
The evidence at the Commission has stunned the Guyanese nation, as it reveals that the Guyana State machinery, under the PNC Government, and through the Guyana Police Force and Laurie Lewis, plotted, conspired and executed death threats, and framed others for the crime.
The files tendered into evidence at the Commission point to Laurie Lewis as the one who wrote the death threat letter to Mrs Vincent Teekah, signing it as ‘The Red Brigade (Guyana Branch)’ to frame the crime as someone else’s.
Counsel Latchmie Rahamat questioned Senior Superintendent James extensively yesterday afternoon, and resumes examination this morning. Yesterday, Counsel Selwyn Peters intervened to ask the Commissioners whether the Crime Chief should be admitted as an Expert Witness, but Commission Chairman Sir Richard Cheltenham denied this. Counsel for the PNC at the Commission, Basil Williams, repeatedly objected to Rahamat’s questions, but failed to establish enough grounds for the Commissioners to deny Rahamat direct answers from the Crime Chief to her questions. This was, however, deferred to this morning’s resumption of the hearing.
The day saw the stunning revelation of the Crime Chief tendering documents proving that Laurie Lewis, then Head of Intelligence for the Guyana security forces, issued a death threat to Mrs Teekah.
LIST OF ASSASSINATIONS
Teekah’s husband, Vincent Teekah, died on October 24, 1979 under suspicious circumstances, two months before the Lewis death threat letter was issued. Widespread allegations ever since have implicated the PNC in Teekah’s assassination. He was Minister of Education in the PNC Government at the time of his murder.
Teekah’s assassination joins a list of people killed under suspicious circumstances in Guyana in the 1970s and early 1980s. These assassinations, murders and mysterious deaths were never investigated or probed. They include that of Dr Walter Rodney, who was assassinated when a bomb exploded in his car as he sat in the front driver’s seat, with his brother, Donald Rodney in the seat next to him.
Donald Rodney was wounded in the blast, but escaped and told the world what happened to his brother on that fateful day, June 13, 1980, when the bomb blast rocked Guyana with the worst political assassination in the history of the Caribbean, and plunged this nation into perpetual political turmoil.
That mystery lay dormant for 34 years, until President Donald Ramotar acceded to a special request from Rodney’s widow, Dr Patricia Rodney, to convene a Commission to inquire into how and why her husband, an international scholar and accomplished historian, was killed.
The Commission is probing the socio-political atmosphere and conditions in Guyana during the 1978-1980 period in Guyana’s history, when the distinguished professor was killed. He was at the time engaged in a populist mass resistance against the PNC Government.
During testimony on Monday last, Counsel for the Working People’s Alliance (WPA), Christopher Ram, put on record during his cross-examination of veteran political activist, Karen De Souza, the fact that the period in question also witnessed the Jonestown massacre, in which 978 Americans died at the hands of a religious cult in the hinterland of Guyana.
These brutal and unsolved mysteries could all see light shed on why they occurred around that time in Guyana’s history, as the Commission of Inquiry unfolds.
The Commission Secretariat and researchers have accessed several hundred pages of secret files from foreign governments relating to the political, economic and social condition and atmosphere of the 1978 to 1980 period in Georgetown, and the repressive rule of the PNC Government.
Yesterday’s testimony revealed the depths to which the PNC Government stooped, with intense surveillance of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and the WPA.
Dr Rodney was leader of the WPA when he was assassinated, but the Commission saw testimony reveal several other WPA leaders were also under intense surveillance, including women’s activist Joycelyn Dow.
Commission Chairman Sir Richard has asked that records be unearthed to show the list of names of PPP and WPA leaders that the PNC Government, through the Guyana Police Force and the GDF, had subjected to shadowy surveillance.
Despite missing Police and Army files, the Commission is gathering steam, and the dramatic heat rises with every hearing. Evidence has revealed that seven Police files at Special Branch on Dr Rodney are missing, along with Dr Rodney’s overall personal file.
One senior analyst said there is sinister, clandestine reasons why top military and Police leaders maintained files and secret surveillance on restive political leaders advocating for a democratic Guyana, and these reasons would be revealed in due course at the Commission hearings.
The Commission resumes this morning at the High Court in Georgetown, with global live streaming Online through the website of the National Communications Centre (NCN).