Jun 11, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – Attorney General (AG) and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mohabir Anil Nandlall, SC, announced yesterday that Dr. Walter Rodney’s death would be officially recognised as an assassination.
The AG made this disclosure during the 28th Sitting of the 12th Parliament held at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, Liliendaal, Greater Georgetown.
Nandlall told the members of the House that Rodney’s wife and children requested of the President, Mohamed Irfaan Ali, and his Government to set the record straight surrounding his death and to formally honour his life and legacy.
“His wife, Dr. Patricia Rodney and children, Shaka Rodney, Kanini Rodney-Phillips, MD, and Asha T. Rodney, Esq. have requested the assistance of His Excellency, President, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, and the Government of Guyana to formally honour the life, legacy and contribution of Dr. Rodney to Guyana and to finally set the public record straight in relation to certain matters surrounding his tragic death,” said the AG.
Nandlall continued that Ali and his Government have acceded to the request and labelled the move as part of an historic step of bringing some level of closure to the Rodney family.
Dr. Rodney was the founder and former leader of a political party called the Working People Alliance (WPA). He was killed at age 38 after a bomb exploded in his car on June 13, 1980, at John Street, Werk-en-Rust, between Hadfield and Bent Streets, less than a 100 metres from the Camp Street Prison. His brother, Donald Rodney, was in the car with him during the time of the explosion and was injured.
A 1988 inquest into his death which was ordered by former president, Desmond Hoyte, had alleged that he died by “misadventure or accident.”
According to Nandlall yesterday, the then People’s National Congress (PNC) government alleged that Rodney had intended to blow up the Georgetown Prisons but the bomb was accidently detonated.
The AG related during his statement to the National Assembly yesterday, that the Rodney family “has vehemently and consistently opposed that narrative for 41 long years.”
A Commission of Inquiry (CoI) was appointed in 2014 by former president, Donald Ramotar, to inquire into and to report on the circumstances surrounding the death of Dr. Rodney.
The Hoyte’s inquest, according to the AG, was reviewed by the 2014 CoI and found to be incredible and flawed, and added that steps will be taken to invalidate or put aside the “perverse findings” of that inquest.
Referring to the 2014 CoI report, Nandlall said, “they state and I quote ‘We have no hesitation in holding that Gregory Smith was responsible for Dr. Walter Rodney’s death on the 13th of June, 1980, and that in so doing, he was acting as an agent of the State having been aided and abetted so to do, by individuals holding positions of leadership in State agencies and committed to carrying out the wishes of the PNC Administration’.”
It had been long speculated that Rodney’s assassination was a set up by Burnham’s PNC government and that Gregory Smith, reportedly a Guyana Defence Force (GDF) sergeant who had served the army then as an electronics expert was hired to do the job. Reports stated that Smith was sent to French Guiana where he had changed his name to Cyril Johnson and died in 2002 of cancer.
As a result of the 2014 CoI findings and Ali’s agreement to the demands of Rodney’s family to set the record straight, Nandlall detailed that his Government will commit to move a motion sometime soon, seeking approval of the 2014 CoI report by the National Assembly.
He further added that his Government wants a resolution that the recommendations contained in the report to be approved as well. Apart from the approval of the report, the AG reveled that changes will be made to Rodney’s death certificate, specifically the parts that labeled him as un-employed and gave his cause of death as misadventure.
“This historical wrong will be corrected and the death certificate will be amended to read professor instead of un-employed,” Nandlall told the members of the National Assembly.
“His death certificate will be amended to delete the word misadventure as the cause of death and substitute therefore the word assassination,” he further stated.
For too long, explained Nandlall, Rodney’s death has been the subject irrelevant ‘mis-description.’
“It was not a misadventure, it was an assassination. A great stain on our republic. This sadistic misrepresentation of Dr. Rodney’s death certificate prevented his family from recovering not a blind cent from his insurance policy,” related the AG.
Nandlall also highlighted that Rodney’s gravesite and memorial will be declared national monuments and as a result will fall under the Administration of the National Thrust.
Additionally, the AG further revealed that Rodney’s children’s’ books that celebrate the cultural heritage of Guyanese such as ‘Kofi Badu out of Africa’ and ‘Lakshmi out of India’ would be placed in the national syllabus by the Ministry of Education.
Other major works that Rodney did, detailed Nandlall, which include the history of the Guyana’s WPA, the Guyanese sugar plantation in the late 19th century and ‘How Europe Under-developed Africa,’ will be made available to the library of the University of Guyana (UG).
Nandlall said too, that the Walter Rodney Chair at UG would be re-established. The AG posited that Rodney’s death has had a life-long and lasting impact on his family, his brother, Donald and Guyana, and as such, his Government will adopt the measures as simply “the right thing to do.”
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