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National Assembly was “impotent” during Linden crisis- Nigel Hughes

A salute to your brave struggle.

Now that the Report of the Commission of Inquiry (COI) has been made available to the parliamentary parties, there have been various interpretations and analysis of the report and of the events which led to the 18th July 2012.

Firstly it is my hope that you will in the near future receive a copy of the report so that you can come to your own independent conclusions of the COI report.

Perhaps it is useful for us to examine what led to the events of the 18th July 2012.

We all recall that without any consultation with you, the Government of the day decided to arbitrarily increase your electricity rates by some 400%.

In what we thought was a new political dispensation in the country and particularly in parliament, the people of Region 10 found themselves in a place where they had no voice in parliament to articulate their position on the proposed rate increase.

Your several public notices to the Government of the day that such a steep imposition of increased rates without any discussion about the capacity of the community to sustain such an increase, were consistently ignored

On the 18th day of July you gathered to register your protest against further economic hardship on an already abandoned community.

The answer to your cries from the State was to turn its weapons on you and deploy the use of lethal force.

Your tragedy was compounded by the fact that the State’s priority at the time immediately after the shooting was to fly the dead out of Linden and leave the injured suffering in a hospital  with limited supplies and capacity.

You will recall that no one claimed responsibility for the shooting and there was much talk of phantom shooters even from official sources.

A month expired before your condition warranted a visit from the Head of State.

In the meantime instead of the Guyana Police Force conducting an investigation into the events, it was you the citizens who started to gather evidence and conduct an investigation.

The Commission of Inquiry commenced its sitting in late September and all the evidence which ultimately implicated the police in the shooting to death of your innocent brothers came solely from the experts you retained and the witnesses who were brave enough to come forward in difficult circumstances to testify.

Were it not for your brave efforts of standing up on the 18th July and subsequently there would have been no investigation, no Commission of Inquiry and ultimately not even the prospect of any inquiry in the events on the day.

As with several other tragedies including Lusignan, Bartica, Buxton etc, you would have been ignored, only to be resurrected for political purposes at some future convenient time.

The COI is now over and your wounds are still raw and perhaps even more so.

 The question is where you go from here.

 That is a matter only you the people of Linden can determine after you have deliberated on the contents of the report.

 The awards of damage for the loss of the lives of three of your citizens are appallingly low and the report has attributed fault for their deaths to the Guyana Police Force.

 I urge you to remember in your deliberations that the National Assembly was impotent to protect you at your hour of greatest need and with their demonstrated incapacity since the events of last July; you are unlikely to find much comfort there.

At the end of the day, it was your sense of purpose, unity and strength which brought you this far.

You have achieved what no other region had done in the modern history of Guyana has ever achieved; you have caused the Police to account for their actions.

 I salute you and will remain forever available to assist you in your just struggles for a better day, a day of equal rights, equal opportunity and justice.

 Peace and Justice.