Jul 09, 2016 News
By Jacquey Bourne
Fifty-two years ago more than 40 Lindeners died on the Demerara River as they travelled home on the Son Chapman launch on Monday, July 6, 1964. An explosion rent the boat in the vicinity of Hurudia.
It has been said that ‘To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.’ How very true! The men, women and children who died on the Son Chapman 52 years ago live on in the hearts and minds of their families and friends and the people of Linden.
“Many of us alive today never knew the men, women, and children of the Son Chapman massacre. Yet, we remember them and reflect on their experience because – by their deaths – we have an example of what hatred and brutality can lead to…senseless loss of life and endless suffering,” said Charles Sampson..
Chairman of the Commemorative Committee Charles Sampson speaking to a small gathering at Hurudia on Wednesday on the anniversary of the Son Chapman tragedy, said that all kinds of conspiracy theories were peddled but he doesn’t believe any of it.
He said Son Chapman was blown up purposely. “Son Chapman was blown up at the instigation of people who didn’t like us in the community, the community of Linden.”
He said that he is disappointed that after 52 years nobody has stepped up to treat the Son Chapman tragedy in terms of commemoration with the kind of treatment it deserves.
“I have no apologies to make.”
“Sometimes you have to stop thinking what is politically correct and do the right thing. Son Chapman caused the death of about 43 people and you know we had a population of about 10,000.
“It is one of the most serious acts of terrorism in the world and we seriously need to commemorate this thing in a bigger way. It must rank as the worst tragedy if not in the world, in the Caribbean and it has to get the attention it deserves.
“I usually ask myself if black lives matter. Are we serious? There are other instances where we celebrate national events where a sprinkling of people die and (the issue) is blown up.”
Sampson said that he hopes that in 2017 some sort of structure will be put in place to accommodate those who visit Hurudia to commemorate the death of those people who were slaughtered.
According to Sampson, in spite of the various writings on the Son Chapman tragedy it wasn’t the intention of the residents of Wismar to kill anyone.
“Lives were lost. What is the price of a life? Can we buy that? Forty-three lives were lost,”
“The ‘disturbance’ at Linden was finished when the Son Chapman was blown apart by terrorists. People were going about their business normally when ‘Boom” Son Chapman exploded.”
Sampson said that he thinks a disservice is done to the people who died and their families and friends by not ‘bigging up’ the commemoration. He hopes there will be some kind of infrastructural work done at the site
According to him it is a national occasion. He also said that such a tragedy should not happen again; that racism should be a thing of the past.
Sampson wants the tragedy to be likened to other events. “It is high time a tragedy like this is celebrated in a way that is equal to the Enmore Martyrs. Enmore Martyrs were five; this is 43.
“I hope we tickle those in authority to do something significantly better than what is happening now to commemorate the death of the 43 people who were blown all over the place.”
He also urged those present that although they should not forget, they should be forgiving but should not forget that it is one of the most terrible things to happen to Linden and to the country.
“The perpetrators may escape from man but not from God.”
Attorney at Law Llewellyn John, who is responsible for maintaining the Hurudia site for the commemoration every year told the small gathering that the Son Chapman arose at a time when there was serious challenges for launches to ply the route from Georgetown to what was then Bacura— the Mackenzie/Wismar/Christianburg.
John said that the Son Chapman tragedy was created ‘on purpose.’ “It was designed to punish the people of Mackenzie/Wismar/Christianburg in those days. It was designed to punish those who felt they should not be discriminated against.
It was an explosion in the days when you couldn’t go to the houses in Watooka. The time has come when those are the issues which I hope the leaders of local democracy will continue to inspire in the people of Linden.
They continue to inspire that the people must not only hear there was a mass killing here, with bodies floating in the water.”
John said that he is happy that people seem to recognize the importance of the function and all children must come up to understand that the beginning of the revolution of Guyana began in Wismar/Christianburg, began in the bowels of the Upper Demerara. He also urged them to preserve the history of struggle so that children will learn.
John also reiterated Sampson’s statement that there is a need for a monument to be erected for the Son Chapman victims. “Monuments that are lasting. We must campaign; we must agitate for statues where events took place so they will always be remembered.”
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