– as nation pays homage to slain fishermen
THE Golden Arrowhead was on Monday flown at half-staff at several public buildings, as Guyana observed a national day of mourning in memory of over a dozen fishermen killed at sea by pirates back in April.
During Monday’s sitting of the National Assembly, a moment of silence was observed by both sides of the House in a show of solidarity for the victims of the carnage at sea in Surinamese waters.
Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan said the Day of Mourning for the slain fishermen coincides with the United Nations Day of Seafarers, and that President David Granger’s proclamation was a fitting tribute in memory of their passing.
The names of those who died and the 16 still missing and feared dead were stated for the record.
President David Granger last week issued a proclamation stating that Monday, June 25 will be observed as a National Day of Mourning for the fishermen who lost their lives at sea while going about their business.
During the incident, five boats with approximately 20 crew members were attacked. Nine survived the brutal ordeal. The mangled bodies of four were recovered, while twelve remain missing and are feared dead.
The Romeina, commanded by Captain Deonarine Goberdan, is believed to have been the first boat to come under attack sometime around 18:30h.
Goberdan, the father of 17, said he drifted 22 hours some eight miles away from shore, and was barely able to remain afloat until reaching land and notifying police.
The bodies of the two crew members that washed ashore were identified as Tillacknauth Mohabir and Mahesh Sarjoo.
Those of Bharrat Heeralall and another identified only as “Palam” are still missing.
The Romeina, too, is still missing and believed to have been stolen by the pirates.
The Joshua, owned by Rosey Jones, was found submerged in water. It is believed that it was sunk by the pirates after the attack. Its captain, “Aki Bhai”, was the lone survivor of that vessel, and has since gone into hiding, purportedly fearing for his life.
One of his crew members was Lalta Persaud, a father of four who had migrated to Suriname over 18 years ago. The others are only known by the nicknames “Spanish Man”, “Bandara” and “Mukesh”.
And while the name of the third vessel has not yet been confirmed, its crew have been identified as Ramesh Sanchara, Ramnarine Singh, Looknarine Persaud, Rajendra Bissessar. The captain, Dharmendrew Persaud, was also one of the survivors of the ordeal.
The last boat believed to have been attacked sometime after 01:00h on Saturday, May 5 was the Shifanie, owned by Hemnlall Ramsarran.
Its captain was Danesh Persaud of Sheet Anchor, East Canje, while crew members were Ralph Anthony Couchman, Glendroy Jones, Gowkaran Outar, whose body was washed ashore at the Number 63 Beach, and the lone survivor, Sherwin Lovell.
The Guyana Government, through round-the-clock aerial monitoring and the constant presence of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), has been able to see a decline in piracy in Guyana’s waters, which had reached epidemic proportions prior to 2015.
According to a release from the UN, the Day of Seafarers was established by a resolution
adopted at the 2010 Diplomatic Conference in Manila, the capital of Philippines, in recognition of the unique contribution made by seafarers the world over to international seaborne trade, the world economy, and civil society as a whole.
In neighbouring Suriname, a prayer service was held at the Guyana Embassy on Henck Arronstraat in down-town Paramaribo where many of the relatives of the dead or missing seamen who live in Guyana were assembled.
Here in Guyana, as the national standard flew at half-staff as decreed by President Granger, Poonai Bhigroog, President of the Central Corentyne Chambers of Commerce lauded the initiative, and called for a follow through on the promised assistance for the relatives of the victims.
He also commended the efforts of the local police in capturing several of those allegedly responsible for the crime, and urged fisherfolk to be more vigilant and put measures in place for their own safety.
Chairman of the Upper Corentyne Fishermen Cooperative Society, Pameshwar Jainarine echoed similar sentiments, and he, too, noted that the life of a fisherman is a very dangerous one.
Said he: “I want to thank the President for putting aside today as a national day of mourning for the fishermen that lost their lives in the recent piracy attack, and I feel some sort of financial relief should be given to the relatives, because, in most instances, the fishermen that passed away were the sole breadwinners of their families.”
At a joint press conference on May 8 in Suriname, Minister Ramjattan and the Surinamese authorities had promised that assistance will be forthcoming to the relatives of the victims.
Several relatives of the victims also expressed their appreciation for what the President and the Government of Guyana did by setting aside the day to pay tribute to their loved ones.
Many have also been high in praise for the police in capturing the men allegedly responsible but are calling on the authorities to ensure there is no let up in the case, and for justice to be served quickly.
Between April 27 and May 3, five fishing vessels with a combined crew of 25 men were attacked in Surinamese waters by a gang of pirates, allegedly at the behest of the Manohar family in retaliation for the death of one of its members, Somnauth Manohar, who was allegedly killed by fishermen in a drive-by shooting on March 30 in Suriname.
Thus far, Nakool Manohar, called “Fyah”, a businessman of Number 43 Village, and Premnauth Persaud, called “Sinbad”, have been jointly charged for the murder of two of the fishermen, namely Mahesh Sarjoo, called “Vishal”, and Tilacknauth Mohabir, called “Caiman”. One Alexander Denhearte was also charged for the murder.
The matter is still being investigated, and the local police have formally requested to be allowed to interrogate the suspects arrested in Suriname.