GUYANA: West Coast Berbice protests turn violent; drivers, passengers robbed and beaten

– Joint Services urge residents to remain calm or face escalation in response

What started out as a protest for justice to be served for 16-year-old Isaiah Henry and 18-year-old Joel Henry, the cousins whose butchered bodies were found in the Cotton Tree, West Coast Berbice backdam, turned out to be absolute chaos and horror for drivers, passengers and people living in Region 5 yesterday.

Roads throughout Bellevue, Number 40 Village, Number 28 Village, Number 30 Village, Hopetown, Burma, Number 3, 4 and 5 Villages were blocked since Sunday night and hundreds of persons who were either heading to Region 6 or heading to Georgetown were stuck in traffic. However, despite heavy police presence, people who were stuck in the lines waiting for the road to clear became victims of robbery and racially fuelled attacks.   

Several reports reaching Kaieteur News have since revealed the extent of the attacks as many are now suffering from injuries about their bodies including chop wounds.

There were also multiple reports and pictures that surfaced showing car windscreens smashed in, vehicles hijacked, and paddy trucks set alight. This publication was told that people were attacked physically and verbally with racial remarks thrown at them, including several who were stripped of their clothing, beaten and robbed before being set free.

According to a 30-year-old truck driver from Bushlot Village, West Coast Berbice, he was stuck in traffic with his truck on Sunday while his uncle who was driving a Toyota Voxy was also in the line. He stated that his uncle was pulled out from his car at Belladrum Village and beaten. He disclosed that his uncle’s car was then taken away from him and until now, they do not know where the vehicle is.

The truck driver stated that up to late yesterday afternoon, they received reports that a car was burning in the Number 28 backdam, but they could not go since the situation was hostile and the roads were still blocked with debris and fires. He added too that while the Guyana Defence Force soldiers arrived to assist the police, “they were driving fast and clearing the road but no soldier or police stayed behind to ensure everyone pass so when they drive up ahead, the people start blocking back the road and people were trapped in between again.”

He stated that the roads had blockades at Burma, Eldorado, Belladrum, Paradise, Seafield, Litchfield, Kingly, Ross Village, Number 30 Village, Number 28 Village, Lovely Lass Village, Number 22 Village, Hopetown and Numbers 5, 3 and 4 Villages.

Meanwhile, three persons who were attacked in the vicinity of the Burma blockade had to be rescued by a public spirited citizen and given shelter and clothing.

A woman who wanted her identity sealed stated that an old man who was heading home from work with his bag was stripped of this clothing and beaten about his body and head. His bag and wallet with money were stolen the woman said, adding that “this man was rescued naked because they stripped all of his clothes, robbed him and beat him so bad and then they told him to walk, so our lives don’t matter anymore.” The woman stated that shortly after another man had to be rescued, after he was beaten about his head with a hammer and gashed on his arms with cutlass, with blood all over his face and body when he was rescued. Another man who was in a bus with other passengers was said to be returning to Berbice from an interior location and he had with him a large sum of cash, all of which was stolen.

One driver told this publication that the protestors smashed the windows of vehicles that were parked since Sunday night and pulled out occupants from the cars and buses. They then proceeded to beat the passengers and the drivers and take whatever they could from them.

In addition to the string of attacks on people, at least three paddy transport trucks were set on fire. One of the owners told this publication that she only bought her truck last year at a cost of $5.5 million and was paying monthly instalments for it, but all of her hard-earned money and investment went up in flames yesterday. Her truck was set on fire leaving just the burnt out shell; the driver and porter had to be rescued. According to the truck driver, he had a cutlass to his neck and a hammer placed on his head and was directed to park the truck across the roadway and hand over the keys. He stated that he complied, “until I turn the truck and jump out the truck, they demanded for the keys. They told me because I am a black man, they na gon do me nothing but this is a coolie truck. They lit the truck first, out it and break it up and burst the fuel tank so the fuel can drain out and then light it back.”

He said he was given money by the persons who rescued him so that he could catch public transportation and return home to Region 6.
“I felt bad that I was attacked by my own,” he said, “They are depriving me of my money; we all are doing this thing wrong. I tried to run from these people, but it didn’t work. Cars were destroyed, Indians’ car. I slept at the people that rescued us and they gave us passage, I saw police and I ask that they give us a lift at Cotton Tree, and I went and made a report about the truck burning.”

Meanwhile, the other two trucks that were burnt, were set alight in the presence of GDF and GPF ranks who did not attempt to stop the protestors from setting it on fire. During a live video streamed on Facebook, a resident was seen trying to extinguish the blaze. The trucks were transporting paddy and according to an eyewitness, the truck drivers were told to empty the paddy on the roadway before they set the truck on fire. Protestors were seen bagging the paddy on the roadway for themselves.

The driver of a Bakewell truck was also attacked. He said in a Facebook post, “I can understand that justice is needed, but ain’t there another way to get it done. [D]o we really need to be this stupid, the truck that brings the bread to the Berbician, one of the best breads that the whole country is familiar with, y’all going to damage and destroy the property? [A]nd call that seeking justice. The same bread that everyone buys to eat, the truck that delivers the bread, we will damage the truck. Is this justice? Is this wise to do? Come on people, we are better than this.”

Police in a joint statement with the Guyana Defence Force yesterday said that they continue to view with serious concern on the ongoing “illegal protest action” being carried out by residents. They made it clear that the protests are illegal and represent a threat to the public safety of Guyanese traversing the roadways and “the robbing of citizens and damaging public property will not result in a solution to the problem but rather cause unnecessary and unwanted tension and anger. This will most certainly distract attention from a proper and professional investigation intended to bring those responsible for these heinous crimes to justice.”

They also noted that the gatherings are in breach of the COVID-19 guidelines and as such are reminded that should the situation persist further, “the GPF will have no alternative but to escalate its response to have the roadways cleared and ensure the return of law and order in the affected communities”. They are calling on residents to remain calm as the investigations intensify into the deaths of the two boys.

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Comments

  • Janet James  On September 9, 2020 at 6:11 am

    What sort of people create more violence , while a grieving family is mourning the
    loss of their dearest sons. They no respect for this family, they should share the grief this family is suffering. Pray for this family, go to church and grieve for the loss of this poor family. Help this family by prayers not by violence. What kind of godless people create more violence when a family is suffering. People who create more violence are no better than the persons who have perpetrated this heinous crime. Go to church and pray for this family who is suffering a great loss. Only the devil will respond with more violence,it so sad for this family that little is being done to relieve them of their suffering. Revenge is wild justice, this family is suffering, they need prayers and consolation. Show respect for this grieving family.

  • Yvonne-K  On September 9, 2020 at 12:04 pm

    Janet this violent protest stems from 23 years of Afro Guyanese in Guyana being kneed, for want of a better word now, at the hands of Jagdeo and the PPP….not to mention the over 1400 black persons killed by the Phantom Squad under the direction of Jagdeo during HIS 12 years at the helm of the government. All this information is online for you to go and read about it. The murder of these two teenagers was just the catalyst that set this violent behaviour in motion. One can only hope that Jagdeo, who is the “real” President take heed of this uprising and do what’s necessary to implement, and very quickly, his campaign promise of a government of inclusiveness. Failing to do that will only escalate the anger of the Afro Guyanese people. East Indians need to stop following Jagdeo’s racist mentality and truly live as One People, One Nation, One Destiny. He’s not their saviour and he will end up costing them dearly.

    • Yvonne-K  On September 9, 2020 at 12:17 pm

      And let me add one more thing Janet, the letter “X” marked on the chests of these two teenagers said it all. These teenagers were not old enough to vote so why that marking? This was a hate crime, plain and simple. I doubt that the grieving families will hold the violent uprising against the protesters as they themselves understand the Afro Guyanese struggle.

  • Kman  On September 9, 2020 at 2:28 pm

    Well, this just shows how some Guyanese are so stupid,,dumb and illiterate, sorry to say that about anyone, but if the shoe fit …..

    According to the report, it seems that the blacks are beating up on the Indians. Hope this does not turn out to be like in the early sixties riots. If it is, then the results won’t be pretty. And l won’t make a prediction who will suffer the most, but we all will.

    Police and army have to carry out their duties, and maybe a few of the agitators have to be dealt with severely, if they don’t heed.

    Finally, blacks were jumping about in Guyana shouting black lives matters. If they mean kill all Indians, then they know where they can stick it.

    Congrats to the folks helping out. We need more like you.

    ALL LIVES MATTER FOR HEAVENS SAKE. WAKE UP PEOPLE.

  • detow  On September 9, 2020 at 3:06 pm

    Kman (Kamta?). I am in sync with you this time. Two wrongs have never, and will never, equate to a right. I fully understand the grief that people are feeling at the brutal slaying of the two young men but I cannot understand what they hope to achieve through their outlandish behaviour. I hope that there are some brave, rational Black people in the affected areas who will offer assistance to everyone who is trapped in this madness, be it Blacks or Indians.

  • brandli62  On September 9, 2020 at 5:17 pm

    The level of violent crime and murders in Guyana is just appalling! Almost every day there are reports in the press of killings, either as a result of robberies or domestic violence. This is happening in a county with the population of a NY City borough! It does not seem to be of any priority to the new government to stop the killing? Why is no one calling for effective gun control? Why is domestic violence, typically against women just accepted? It’s time for some serious soul searching in Guyana.

  • Ron Saywack  On September 9, 2020 at 5:50 pm

    The butcher(s) who heinously murdered the young men must pay the ultimate price: the death penalty.

    I have been away from the country for a long time and did work in the court system before leaving. I am aware that Guyana inherited the death penalty from the British.

    As of this moment, since I am writing this comment extemporaneously (off the top of my head, so to speak), I can’t be 100% certain if it has since been abolished, or if it is still in existence. Though I am against the death penalty, this is an example where it is warranted.

    Deepest condolences to the grieving family!

    I call on all Guyanese to exercise restraint at this critical hour and to avoid taking out your anger on innocent people. Violence begets violence. Let the justice system run its course. All measures must be taken to ensure that this crime is not repeated. It is crucially important to learn from it, to seek peace, and to build mutual trust and respect.

    Finally, it is imperative that Guyana’s leadership urgently address the issue, call for calm, and lend its unqualified support to the Henry family.

    Ron Saywack.

  • CSD Maraj  On September 9, 2020 at 9:16 pm

    I agree with you Ron,the so called Protesters must respect the Henry Family at this time when they are grieving.Time for prayers and healing and let the courts do justice.

    Now Talking about peaceful protesters where are they and what happened with
    “All lives matter”..
    Now we see the so called Protesters quite clearly for who they really are.
    They are not protesters they are a bunch of Hooligans and Robbers and they are just as guilty as the butchers who killed the two teenage boys.
    Two wrongs never makes it right

    The Police and the Army need to take charge.
    Both Leaders from PPP and PNC needs to call for peace and calm
    The Government needs to Ban all protesters until peace is restored.
    Set up a curfew and deal with all the Hooligans and Robbers swiftly.
    AN EYE FOR AN EYE AND THE WHOLE WORLD GOES BLIND

    • Georgy Porgy  On September 9, 2020 at 10:48 pm

      Peter pays for Paul and Paul pays for all. You want to write something constructive then write to Jagdeo and the PPP and tell him that they need to implement the “so called government of inclusiveness” that they campaigned with and stop inciting racism. You know very well who will end up paying the biggest price.

  • CDS Maraj  On September 10, 2020 at 11:04 am

    My Dear Friend Everyone loses in the end just remember that for example when you loot and burn your employer business you are cutting your own throat.
    Where will you find work if your employer goes out of business, so remember everyone loses in the end.
    About inclusiveness You need a good history lesson the PPP party was built and has a proud history of inclusiveness starting from Dr.Cheddie Jagan to this day so don’t go there my friend.Just do the Comparison you will be embarrass.
    Anyway Life goes on and all Parties needs to call fro Peace and calm.

    • Georgy Porgy  On September 10, 2020 at 12:02 pm

      First off I’m not your friend. Secondly, the PPP party was nothing like it is now under Cheddi Jagan so don’t insult the memory of the best leader your party ever had. Jagdeo is no Cheddi Jagan. The employers you mention are all East Indian so I think your concern should be about them and the thousands and thousands of dollars they are losing at this time and will continue to lose if the marginalization of black people by the PPP continue. When you have nothing, you have nothing to lose. So don’t embarrass yourself with arguments that are just dribble.

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