Gruesome murder of Berbice teens…
– Opposition leader calls for two days of mourning
As the nation, more so the county of Berbice, comes to grip with the heinous killing of teenage boys, Isaiah and Joel Henry, statements of condemnation and condolences have been many.
The two young men, Isaiah, 16, and Joel, 19, left their Number 3 Village, West Coast Berbice home on Saturday to pick coconuts in the Cotton Tree, West Coast Berbice, backdam and were not seen alive again.
PRESIDENT IRFAAN ALI
As police continued their investigation Sunday, after the boys’ mutilated bodies were discovered in the Cotton Tree backdam, President Irfaan Ali was among the first to speak out. He said, “It is with a heavy heart that I was informed of the brutal and senseless murders of Isaiah Henry and Joel Henry of West Coast Berbice. I have since spoken to the Minister of Home Affairs and Commissioner of Police urging them to deploy all needed resources to bring the perpetrators to justice.”
The President’s statement, though concise, managed to express sympathy, appeal for stability and support, and gave assurance that swift justice will be served.
“We cannot and would not tolerate this type of brutality in our communities and country. I can understand the pain of the families and community and my prayers and thoughts are with you. Whilst we await the swift work of the police to bring those responsible to justice, I urge residents from the communities to be patient and support the police in ensuring justice is served,” said the President.
He continued, “I ask you to act lawful and responsible in demonstrating your anger and hurt. As President, I can understand the emotions but I ask that the police be given an opportunity to do their job. I also assure all of you that I have asked for a constant update on the progress of the investigation by the police to be shared with the media, community and country.”
HOME AFFAIRS MINISTER
Minister of Home Affair, Robeson Benn, in a statement too said, “I am deeply saddened at the discovery of the murders of Isaiah and Joel Henry, and the mutilation of their bodies, today at West Coast Berbice.”
In expressing horror over the daunting state of affairs, the Minister said, “There is no justification for these acts. I share the shock, hurt and anger at this gruesome event, and particularly, the grief of: the families and friends of these youths…the countrywide distress, abhorrence and condemnation are noteworthy and very keenly felt.”
Even then, the Minister said that the police force was vigorously pursuing its investigations into the crime and will spare no lawful effort to bring the perpetrator(s) to justice.
“These investigations must be complete and thorough,” the Minister said.
Outraged over the killings, residents retaliated with protest action which was quelled then reignited. Responding to this, Minister Benn said, “There are reports of a resumption of blockages of roads and associated bridges on the West Coast Berbice Highway. This activity will not aid, but will surely hamper, the overriding issue of resolving this crime expeditiously. The efforts of some agitators will, also, have a similar effect and lead to a general breakdown in public safety and security.”
Moreover, the Minister said, “I wish to urge all residents of the local communities to act in a manner that is lawful and helpful to the police in aiding their work and in preserving the peace across and between all communities. The Ministry of Home Affairs will fully support all efforts, and source and bring to bear all requisite resources, towards helping the West Coast Berbice communities through this difficult time.”
ETHNIC RELATIONS COMMISSION
Strongly condemning what it called the “senseless killings”, the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC), in a statement of its own, called for swift action by the police to apprehend those responsible. It said, “The Commission is pleading with Guyanese, especially those residing in the West Coast Berbice and nearby communities to remain calm and allow the police to do their work.”
Remaining firm that, first and foremost the law must take its course, the ERC made an appeal for Guyanese to desist from any activity which can contribute to unnecessary tension as it is hopeful that those responsible will be brought to justice.
“The Commission also strongly urges leaders, both nationally and at the community levels, to demonstrate responsible behaviour and to not use the pain of this tragedy to heighten racial tension,” it added.
According to the statement, too, the ERC is committed to taking whatever course of action it deems necessary to assist in the de-escalation of tensions and the mending of fractured relations among citizens. As such the ERC reiterated “that investigations by the police must first take precedence before the ERC acts to defuse any unwanted developments resulting from the tragic occurrences a few days ago,” even as it extended condolences to the relatives and friends of the deceased young men.
LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
Sickened by the way the Henrys were “heinously cut down in the prime of their youth,” leader of the opposition, Joseph Harmon, MSM, said, “I continue to be horrified by their gruesome killings. I cannot begin to imagine the state of the barbaric minds that could commit such evil acts.”
He said, “President David Granger and I have conveyed our sympathies to the families and have offered our support. They require all of our support – the community and all of Guyana as they try to cope with these tragic losses. We hold up the families and all the relatives in prayer and ask God to give them the strength to carry through and carry on. We share the deep grief, pain and anguish of the families and relatives.”
A proponent of ending such dastardly acts, Harmon said, “The tears and emotions which I have seen in the past 24 hours from all segments of our society, speak to the inhumane and barbaric nature of this crime which has shaken the soul of this country.”
The APNU+AFC Coalition, Harmon said, will assist the families by covering the funeral costs, even as he campaigned for two days of mourning – Tuesday September 8th and Wednesday September 9th – to be observed in honour of the teens.
As he too demanded swift justice, Harmon pleaded with members of the public “with information which could lead to the solving of this crime to provide such information to the police as soon as possible.”
HUMANITARIAN MISSION-GUYANA INC.
Pandit Suresh Sugrim, the president of the Humanitarian Mission-Guyana Inc., said, “My heart goes out to the family of those two young men who lost their lives so horrendously. The cruelty is beyond understanding, and youthful lives have been ended. It was with great distress and sadness that we learned of the ruthless and cold-blooded murder that took the lives of Isaiah and Joel Henry, left so many families, friends (and) our nation in a state of shock.”
“Loss of life is always tragic,” said Surgim, “but when the lives lost were those of young and youthful individuals due to violence and anger by the hands of another heartless human being, then what we see before us, in the victims and perpetrators, is the gravest breach on the sacredness of human life.”
PRIVATE SECTOR COMMISSION
Also weighing in on the dilemma, the Private Sector Commission (PSC) said that it learnt with horror of the murder of the two teenaged cousins with a sense of utter revulsion. “We join the voices of the private sector and, we would like to think, the entire country, in calling upon the nation to remain calm while the police do their job to bring the perpetrators to justice, while we condemn this brutal heinous act. Our deepest sympathy and condolences go out to the grieving families.”
GEORGETOWN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY
The Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) also said that it is deeply saddened by the senseless murders of boys, stating that “We extend our deepest condolences to the families, loved ones and communities of Isaiah and Joel. We share in their grief, heartbreak and anger. The GCCI calls on the Guyana Police Force (GPF) to continue their investigation into the matter and we ask that the public allow the investigation process to occur without hindrance. The perpetrators of this heinous crime must be swiftly apprehended and brought to justice, and all parties responsible must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the Laws of Guyana.”
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