Curbing politically-driven violence 

AS the new Irfaan Ali-led administration strategises on developmental modes and requisite financial viability to restore socio-economic wellbeing in the nation and formulate a national budget that caters for the immediate needs of all Guyanese, including relief packages, within constrained economic circumstances, it is forced to do so under duress of a planned violence-based protest in several locations on the West Coast of Berbice, subsequently spreading to other areas of the country.

This protest action, averred to be a consequence of the murder of Isaiah and Joel Henry, is seemingly encouraged with the intention, as admitted by Joseph Harmon, to make the country ungovernable under a PPP/C Government, which he describes as a fraudulent one.
The eruption of attacks on Indo-Guyanese, leading to looting, destruction of vehicles and homes, and physical assaults ultimately leading to murder, came after speeches made by PNC leaders Joseph Harmon and David Granger at the homes of the murdered Henry boys.
There, Harmon had deemed the protest a “… struggle against a fraudulent government”. Granger also urging the formation of vigilante groups further inflamed the supporters into a destructive and deadly reaction.

As the violent and destructive attacks escalated, President Irfaan Ali, who restrained the Joint Services from confrontational approaches in the hope that ministerial level dialogue would quell the agitation, which instead was fuelled into hysteria as a direct response to the inciting rhetoric by opposition leaders, issued a press statement which states, inter alia: “I will be reaching out to the British Government and the RSS, which is the Regional Security System to come to Guyana in support of the Guyana Police Force’s investigative capacity.

“I am exploring the commissioning of an International Commission of Inquiry (CoI) to look at every aspect of this situation, to look beyond what took place on the ground, to look at the behaviour that came about as a result of statements made.

I have asked the attorney-general and minister of legal affairs to explore, within the United Nations system, all means available to hold to account, all those who spread race hate and instigate racial strife.”

A press statement by Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn stated, inter alia, that the murder and mutilation of Isaiah and Joel Henry remains a heinous crime that has been condemned all across Guyana. The families of the boys have also denounced the violent attacks being perpetrated in their sons’ name with Minister Benn contending that, “This escalation in violence rests squarely at the doors of these two gentlemen and specific-known political agitators of their ilk!”

The Joint Services are increasing their efforts to restore calm to the affected areas and only emergency and essential travel is recommended through the affected area.

The murders of Chatterpaul Harripaul aka “Roy”, age 34 years, of Block BI Bath Settlement, WCB which occurred about 15:45 hours on September 9, 2020 at Bath Settlement Public Road, WCB; and Naresh Singh, 17, of Number Three Village, West Coast Berbice (WCB), who died in separate incidents on Wednesday, has further heightened tensions in an already-divided nation.

However, Gladson Henry, the father of murdered Berbice teen, Isaiah Henry, is urging a stop to the violence. He said, “I am not racist, I still love my Indian brothers and sisters,” as he appealed to the ‘protestors’, while calling for justice for his son’s murder to remain peaceful.
Although the PNC leaders have deemed the murder of the teens a hate crime, urging the demonstrators to react in accordance, Mr. Gladston Henry reiterated “I am not supporting unmoral protesting… if you want to protest, which is your right, you must do it peacefully and in doing it peacefully we cannot be fighting against one another.

“I am not a racial person. I born in Number Three [Village] and I live among Indian people… we eat together… we sleep together; the majority of my friends is Indian friends and because of how I was moving they give me a nickname, and that nickname is ‘Geerah’ and the meaning of geerah is that they come up with is because geerah have to go in the dhal and the majority of my friends is Indian.”
Wednesday marked four days since protest actions erupted along the West Coast of Berbice and subsequently spread to several parts of the country.

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