By Dale Andrews
Another Guyanese who up to recent, resided in Barbados, is having second thoughts about returning to the island following an ordeal he experienced at the hands of some Barbadian policemen.
Billy Edwards, 19, who is originally from Rosignol, West Bank Berbice, and who was residing legally in Barbados, opted to pay his own passage back to his homeland after he and three of his friends were brutally beaten by the Barbados police when they identified themselves as Guyanese.
Edwards returned home over the weekend and visited this newspaper yesterday to give a harrowing account of his ordeal.
“What never happened to me here in Guyana happened to me in Barbados,” he said.
He told Kaieteur News that he and some of his Guyanese friends were hanging out in Bridgetown, the island’s capital, on Saturday night when they were confronted by a group of plainclothes police ranks.
Since the men did not identify themselves as policemen, the Guyanese enquired from them, the reason for stopping them.
This turned out to be their mistake since the policemen, recognizing their Guyanese accent, became aggressive.
“After I asked them to show us their badges, they say ‘Okay, they are Guyanese’. They then told us that they are taking us straight to the airport,” Edwards said.
But instead of the airport, the three Guyanese were taken to the District ‘A’ Police Station where they were questioned.
Edwards said that his request to make a telephone call was dismissed by a policeman at the station.
“When I asked, ‘Officer, can I have my phone call?’ He tell me to sit my so and so,” Edwards recalled.
They were eventually booked and placed into two separate cells until the following morning. But that was just the tip of the iceberg.
On Sunday, the three Guyanese were herded into a police vehicle and taken to an address that one of them had given as their place of abode.
Edwards said that the officers began cursing them and accusing them of lying about their address in Barbados, despite them giving them telephone numbers for the police to verify their stories.
He said that one of the officers then grabbed him by his T-shirt and started to slap him while another placed a gun to one of his friends’ head and threatened to shoot him.
Edwards said that upon arrival at one of the addresses they had given to the police, the officers kicked down the door, apparently with the intention of catching other Guyanese who might have been living illegally on the island.
He said that he was taken from the police vehicle and one of the ranks cuffed him in his stomach.
The rank then took a scarf and wrapped around it Edwards’s neck and started to choke him.
“He threw me on the ground and then knelt on my chest. Another officer was slapping me all over my head. My other friend was getting beat with a sword,” the young man told Kaieteur News.
“One of them say that he don’t like Guyanese. He say that he get Guyanese deport already. He say that they like to sort out the Guyanese and the prime minister say that Guyanese got to go. All the while they were still beating me,” Edwards added.
He said that he and his friends were then placed back into the police vehicle and were being called derogatory names.
According to Edwards when he answered them back in kind the ranks actually took him through a deserted track to beat him again but he begged for his life.
The Guyanese were eventually taken to the Grantley Adams International Airport, although the police had verified their legal status.
Edwards said that the ranks pretended as if nothing had happened.
“They tell the immigration, ‘We bring these here. They illegal, we bring them here.’” Edwards said.
Eventually the policemen left the three Guyanese in the hands of the Barbadian Immigration officials at the airport.
They were questioned but the Guyanese could take no more of the humiliation and requested to purchase their own tickets back to Guyana.
“The Immigration really didn’t give us no problem. They gave us a chance to call persons to get our money to buy our tickets and then they put us in a room until they sorted out the flights for us,” Edwards stated. They all left the island on Sunday night.
Recently, Guyanese and other CARICOM nationals have been complaining about the treatment meted out to them by the Barbadian authorities, ever since Prime Minister David Thompson announced a crackdown on persons illegally living on the island.
Edwards is of the opinion that some Caribbean nations, like Guyana, are not counted as a country.
“We are treated like dogs, like animals…like nobody cares about us. If anybody come here from Barbados or Jamaica, nobody will run them down. They can live free.”
Edwards said that he would have had no problem if he was illegal but he should not be treated like a criminal.
“They did not have the right to beat me because I did not commit no crime,” he said.
He said that while there are many Barbadians who do not like Guyanese, there is an equal number who show no animosity towards other Caribbean nationals.
“I don’t hate the Barbadians. I have Barbadian friends, girlfriends. But all I want is for the Barbadians, Guyanese, Jamaicans to live as one, because at the end of the day we are all Caribbean people. I can’t see the prime ministers and the presidents going and talking about CARICOM this and CARICOM that and then when they are in their country it is not what we see on TV,” Edwards said.
“The President of Guyana could see what is happening to us and yet he and them actually sitting down skinning teeth with each other at conferences. Is just promises. If you are serious about something, you have to do something about it; let people know that you are serious. You just can’t be saying things on the television and talking, shaking hands with these people and these people turn around and dissing your people and you are comfortable with that,” the frustrated Guyanese said.
Barbados Commissioner of Police Darwin Dottin declined to answer questions from members of the local media on the issue of the treatment meted out to Guyanese during a recent visit to Guyana.
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