The animals in police uniform
I want to begin this letter by sympathizing with the victims of the brutal attack on their person by outlaws, masquerading as members of the Guyana Police Force, at the Marudi Mountains right here in Region Nine.
Secondly, I condemn in the strongest terms possible, the actions of those rogue cops. They should face the fullest brunt of the very law they have sworn to uphold.
I was out of the Region and only got back (2013-03-04) to be met with the news of the beating. My initial reaction was to visit the area immediately to ascertain the facts. I changed my mind when I learnt that most of the main persons in this sordid episode were on their way to Lethem.
I met with them (this morning) and was able to get a firsthand account of what actually transpired. I met the woman who was beaten; I met her 12-year-old son, whose left leg was heavily bandaged, and who was having difficulties standing up, much less to walk; I met her elder son who used his body as a human shield to prevent his mother from getting more lashes, and who exhibited abrasions to his hands, legs, back and buttocks. His right hand was also heavily bandaged.
I met another miner, Otillo Pereira, who also was part of the human shield around the besieged woman. I was also able to view the video recordings made of the incident.
I was overcome with emotion and rage at the mercilessness of the ranks involved. They set upon a grown woman as if she were their child. While the Corporal was unleashing his blows, the other ranks and two other miners stood guard with weapons cocked and at the ready.
Mr. Editor, I shudder to think what would have been the outcome had those miners retaliated. Certainly, we would have read the usual cock-and-bull story how the ranks were attacked with cutlasses and guns. These guns would have been displayed in the newspapers as evidence.
Hence the miners must be commended for their peaceful stance even in the face of death.
The Marudi situation goes back a long way. When I was District Development Officer in Aishalton between 1991 and 1992, I met mining activities at Marudi. I am certain those activities were there long before my arrival there. In those days, Romanex allowed the miners access to the area since they recognized that the surrounding communities needed some sort of economic activities for their sustenance. There was never ever any conflict between the miners and Romanex. Any conflict was between and among the miners themselves.
This situation changed recently, when a new company took over. The management of the company formed an alliance with one Orlando Wong, a miner like anyone else, and it was through the instigation of this now greedy miner that the company decided to severe its relationships with the miners.
Wong would engage in raiding the claims of the company in the absence of management, so the other miners followed suit.
Naturally, Wong would be privy to the arrival of the managers of the company, and he would, unknowing to his colleagues, withdraw his operations from the claim. He would then report to his new bosses that the other miners were raiding. Naturally, the company sought to have the miners evicted.
President Ramotar, on a recent visit to Aishalton, met with the miners and promised to look into the issue of having adequate lands is made available to the small miners so that they could continue their work to support their families and to meet obligations to the bank among others.
It seems as though the police, mining officials and the company have pre-empted the President’s action on the matter. In fact, when this was explained to the police, and all of this is on video, the police, in some of the vilest language possible, stated that he does not work with the President, and that the President cannot give him orders.
If that is so, then surely the President is not in control of things in this country, certainly he is not in control of the security forces of which he is the Commander-in Chief.
One has to view the recordings to appreciate the gravity of the incident.
Further to this is the fact that the police forced two young Amerindian miners to dismantle camps, that was after they too received a sound trashing from the cops. It was reported that one of them ran away and the cops fired a few shots at him.
In view of this incident, I am calling on the President himself to state what plans he has to ensure that miners in general, and the Marudi miners in particular, can continue their activities to ensure that they can lead normal lives minus the harassment of the security forces, some of whom seem to be totally out of control.
I am also calling on the Commissioner of Police to ensure that the cops involved be severely disciplined. A custodial punishment would be the minimum. I would also like to see the prosecution of the non-military persons in this matter.
For one it has to be established whether or not the guns they so boldly brandished are licensed, and if so those licenses should be revoked immediately. If the guns are not licensed, then we have a clear cut case of illegal possession.
The outcome of this matter will determine whether the government is in control; or, is it the lawless and powerful?