THE People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) on Friday laid wreaths at the Memorial Gardens and Crematorium, Lot 12 Princess Street & Louisa Row, Le Repentir, Georgetown, in honour of the 57th death anniversary of party stalwart, Michael Forde.
Members of the ruling party were joined by members of the Women’s Progressive Organisation (WPO), the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers’ Union (GAWU), representatives of the Michael Forde bookshop and members of the Forde family.
Forde, a 22-year-old Progressive Youth Organisation (PYO) activist, was one of the leaders of the historic Freedom Marches in February of 1964.
Forde was killed by an explosive package brought to Freedom House by a book purchaser. His death was the second in the Forde family that week; his father had died on the previous Sunday. It was reported to the police that a young man went into the Progressive Bookshop, housed in the Freedom House building with a small carton. He placed the box on a bookshelf, purchased a book, and, without waiting for his change, hurriedly left the shop, leaving his box behind.
Seconds after the man had left, Forde, who was an employee, called out to the manager, Miss Euna Mulzack, an American citizen residing in the country, and informed her that the young man left hurriedly without collecting his change and also left a box behind.
Becoming suspicious, she told him to throw the box out of the building. Forde responded, and was rushing through the eastern side door of the shop when there was an explosion. The lower part of Forde’s left hand was hurled some 50 yards away, behind the pit entrance of the Metropole Cinema. His mutilated body was found face upward, lying across the entrance of Freedom House, with just strips of clothing dangling around his waist.
At the time of the explosion there were around 40 persons in Freedom House, some of whom were injured. Among the wounded were Mary Nunes, wife of Minister of Education (at that time), Cedric Nunes; Patricia Christian; Euna Mulzack, who suffered a damaged eye; and Miss Bispat, with a suspected fractured spine.
The First Lady, Janet Jagan, wife of the then Premier of Guyana, Dr Cheddi Jagan, escaped with slight injuries to her hands.
“Today, we are celebrating the annual death anniversary of the revolutionary Michael Forde. Michael Forde was killed by a bomb that was placed at the bookshop in 1964, and that was a very sad moment. Michael knew that something was wrong, but he took that parcel out, and it blew up in his hands, as he was going out,” manager of the Freedom House, Neil Kumar, detailed, on Friday.
“But I’ll tell you what, he saved comrade Janet, comrade Cheddi, and more than 30 other comrades—real, genuine comrades of our party,” he added.
He profusely expressed his gratitude for the work done by the PYO in cleaning up the gravesite and the surrounding areas, so that it would be accessible today.
“We are very proud of them, and we feel that the youths of this country are our greatest asset, and we have tremendous confidence in them,” he stated, then added:
“So, on behalf of the PPP/C, particularly our General-Secretary, and our President Irfaan Ali, we would like to say that we will continue to pay respect to this fallen hero, comrade Michael Forde.” In remembrance of the 48th death Anniversary of Jagan Ramessar and Bholanauth Parmanand, who were murdered while protecting ballot boxes, executive members of the PPP/C also held a wreath-laying ceremony at the Number 66 Village Burial Ground, Corentyne.
During the ceremony, Executive Secretary of the PPP/C and Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha, said that the sacrifices and dedication of these fallen heroes and many other Guyanese must never be forgotten. He called on Guyanese to continue in their fight for democratic freedom so that Guyana doesn’t return to the “dark, dictatorial days.”