By Latoya Giles and Abena Rockcliffe
Several dozen city residents yesterday mounted a protest against the “unacceptable brutality” that was displayed by police in Linden on Wednesday evening. The protest was staged at Eve Leary.
Three persons were killed when police opened fire on Lindeners who mounted another protest against the hike in electricity tariff. Some two dozen others, women included, were injured and were forced to seek medical attention.
Lindeners reacted to the killings by the setting fire to the Linmine Secretariat which housed multiple offices. They also set fire to a truck, an excavator and a fuel tanker.
In the wake of the deaths, the government offered condolences, but blamed the opposition for the protest and subsequent killings.
Yesterday’s city protest attracted several high profile individuals within the political realm, the University of Guyana Student Society, and others who were just there to show solidarity to the families of the dead.
“Today we see persons from all races who are prepared to stand up in the struggle and fight against racial politics and the killing of innocent people,” one of the demonstrators stated emphatically.
APNU’s Desmond Trotman said that Lindeners, faced with increased electricity tariffs during a very depressed economical situation in the town, were “extremely worried”, so they sought to voice their concern through protest.
He said that part of the protest had to do with the call to the Government to engage them in dialogue so that negotiations could have been set in motion.
“The response to that call was violence.”
“What is seen happening here today is an outpouring of concern and disgust towards the government’s behaviour,” Trotman stated.
He said that it is clear that the people are worried over the government’s decision to use violence on some communities while they relent when it comes to others. We cannot sit idly by while people are being killed.”
Trotman said that in his opinion, the protest staged in Linden was peaceful and did not warrant the kind of response the government instigated.
He was asked about the message he would send to the Guyana Police Force.
“Stand down and allow the protestors to voice their concern that should be addressed by the government.”
Attorney at Law Nigel Hughes said that he did not see the need for live rounds which resulted in the loss of lives. Hughes said that “before the dust settles… we have three simply immediate demands” among them the resignation of the Minister of Home Affairs for the failure of the ranks to adhere to standard operating procedure.
“We would like some form of international intervention to monitor immediate discretions between leaders of the respective parties at the highest levels, as we believe that this country is about to be sent to unfortunate places.”
He said that the third demand is to see an immediate international forensic investigation into the incident by a body proposed and recommend by the Heads of Government of Caricom.
Political Leader, David Hinds said that all over the world people exercise their legitimate right to protest.
“Democracy seems to be non-existent in Guyana as it relates to a particular race of people.”
He said that in the worst days of the Burnham regime, “We never saw the drastic disrespect through brutal killings. I am of the belief that the entire ordeal was well planned and the government is one that is bloodthirsty.”
Hinds said that he was in Linden when tragedy struck. According to him, the protest was peaceful until the police opened fire.
“The people blocked the bridge and made it not possible for vehicular traffic, but that wasn’t cause, and could never be deemed just cause, for the loss of young innocent lives.”
He said that the actions taken signal that “the government intends to rule by the gun and it must not be supported.”
He said that the tripartite talks should be broken off in parliament and no cooperation should be given. Hinds maintained that the protest staged by Lindeners was just because they felt that they should not have seen such a drastic increase in electricity tariffs. He said that Linden fed Guyana for years and is now a depressed community.
According to Hinds, Linden is “just the worst of the situation in Guyana” and all that exists there affects Georgetown also. He said that even Georgetown should not be paying the rates charged. Hinds called on the rest of Guyana to stand in solidarity with Linden.
“Today is Linden, tomorrow could be Buxton and the next day could be Georgetown.”
Hinds said that all the actions of the government since elections signal that they have lost the majority and they intend to rule by the gun.
“This Government has no claim to any democratic culture, this is a barbaric government that has the unwritten policy of using black people to damage and kill black people.”
He stressed that the police must recognize that they must not take unjust orders.
“Their job is to serve and protect.”
People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR)’s Deborah Backer said that the police move to go to Linden with inadequate tear gas and no shields, blatantly shows that their intention was not to protect and keep the calm.
“They went immediately to lethal force; the water cannon should have gone there.”
She said that parliament is scheduled for next Wednesday. “APNU has written the Speaker to request an earlier sitting to address these issues… certain things will be called for.”
Kaieteur News columnist and social activist, Freddie Kissoon, told Kaieteur News that it was time for Guyanese to “stand up realize that this is not a fair government”.
“Citizens of this country should not be shot and killed and everyone sit back and do nothing. Those shootings warrant Guyanese to be in the streets 24 hours and not give up until justice is served.”
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