OP attracts protest over approach to Linden issues
“The Government is prolonging Linden’s struggle to distract Guyanese from the bigger issues of corruption at NCN, NICIL, GuySuCo, and the super salaries at OP. They obviously need a distraction” – Gerhard Ramsaroop
Political leaders, social activists and a number of Linden residents yesterday assembled at the Office of the President and mounted a protest against the government’s approach towards the situation in the mining community.
The protest was orchestrated by Red Thread.
Linden is in its fourth week of protest, which was initially staged against the hike in electricity tariffs that became effective from July 1. However three residents were fatally shot, and the situation became even more tense as several buildings in the community were burnt.
Residents of Linden, who were demonstrators in yesterday’s protest, said that the Police continue to be hostile towards Lindeners.
One woman who resides at Half Mile Wismar said that she witnessed “total advantage” on Sunday last as “police threw tear smoke into people’s yards.”
She said that residents ran out and were then confronted by police who shot them with pellets.
The woman contended that the police had no reason to apprehend four young men.
“Just so they arrested four men and took them away, people in town really don’t know what is going on in Linden,” she related.
The resident claimed that the police stomped on residents and shot a young Rastafarian to the neck and shoulders with pellets. “Young people, old people, everybody they just abusing.”
The woman identified those arrested as Gavin Braithwaite, Jahson Braithwaite, Horace Gorrick and another person whom she couldn’t recall.
Alliance For Change (AFC) executive Gerhard Ramsaroop emphasised that his party condemns any destruction or arson. However, he said that it is convinced that the government is conveniently trying to escalate the situation. “They are being intransigent and dragging out the negotiations.”
“They have once again resorted to the race card. Linden had ample time to burn buildings when there was less police presence in the town. Linden is not a town of hooligans, it has very little crime. Hence, I do not see it realistic that they would burn their own school.”
He said that Lindeners understand how to protest. “Way back in 1971 they marched down to town in protest for the sugar workers. The government is prolonging Linden’s struggle to distract Guyanese from the bigger issues of corruption at NCN, NICIL and GuySuCo, and the super salaries at OP. They obviously need a distraction.”
Working People Alliance (WPA) executive, David Hinds said that after the initial shooting at Linden “we thought that we had reached the ultimate, but it continues to be the force of the government against the people of Linden.”
“We are here to bring to the attention of the country, the Caribbean and the world that we are living in a place where the government is not willing to talk to its people or to negotiate with their representatives, but to shoot its way towards the outcome that it desires.”
Hinds said that the government openly criticized him for his opinion that an opposition should not go to conduct talks with any government the day after innocent citizens are shot.
“It seems as if the government is learning from me, as it walked away from the table just as negotiations were about to bear fruit. The difference is, I was saying walk away from the talks and come on the streets and protest, they walked away from the talks and went and shoot down people, and they have a monopoly of force. Withdraw the troops from Linden, stop demonizing the people of Linden, negotiate and things will go back to normalcy.”
Red Thread representative, Joy Marcus, said she can vouch that Lindeners would not burn their school, “Lindeners would do no such thing, they value education,” she stated emphatically.
Marcus disclosed that Red Thread intends to support Linden “to the end” as the government “tries to bully people into allowing it to do whatever it likes.”
Tabitha Sarbao, executive member of the Youth Coalition for Transformation (YCT) said that the state of Linden is really disheartening. “To open fire upon unarmed citizens who are basically trying to fight for what they call their right. We are going into a level of dictatorship. I hope young people realize that this is something that can get worse.”
She too opined that it is “obvious” that the protestors are not the ones who burnt the schools
“I am trying to understand where it is they are trying to go with this. They are probably trying to find a way to justify what they are doing to the people by saying that they have become violent,” said the youth leader.