Addressing an Indian Arrival Committee (IAC)-organised commemorative event held close to the houses in which 11 people were gunned down during the pre-dawn hours of January 26, 2008, Junior Finance Minister, Juan Edghill declared that the attack was racist.
“It wasn’t robbery that took place here in Lusignan; it wasn’t kick-down-the-door bandits that came here in Lusignan. It wasn’t people who came here because they wanted your jewels and your money. It was an act of hate, it was an act of race hate and we must not forget that,” said the former Chairman of the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC).
He stressed that the assault on the helpless, defenseless, vulnerable and innocent people was an act of “vengeance.” A protestant bishop, Edghill said that people with political agenda should not pounce and seek to send messages by hurting innocent people. The minister urged all Guyanese to “reject race hate,” violence and attempts to divide the country. “We must put a fence around our communities to ensure that the hate-mongers and race-baiters don’t find any accommodation amongst us. We are coming into a season when they come. We must ensure there is no place for them because what the people of Guyana have asked for is unity, togetherness..,” he said.
Acknowledging that everyone is entitled to legal representation, Edghill said he was disturbed that prospective Guyanese leaders offered legal representation to those who were accused of killing the persons.
“To the amazement of all of us, they were those who went to the court and defended those people. It is wrong and they were those who defended that wrong and we must not forget that among those who defended those who were charged and were considered culpable of that crime that took place here, among those are some of the same people who want to come to tell us that they would like to be leaders of Guyana to take Guyana into the future,” he said. He believed that it was contradictory for someone to use his or her skills to help acquit criminals and then pursue national leadership.
Chairman of the Alliance For Change (AFC), Nigel Hughes had represented James Anthony “Sally” Hyles, and Mark Royden “Smallie” Williams who were freed in August, 2013 from the charge of murder of 11 persons at Lusignan. The State has appealed the decision.
Apparently referring to the general and regional elections scheduled for May 11, 2015, the government minister told the gathering that they would have to soon choose between the caring and uncaring. “We have to choose between those who make empty promises and between those who deliver- yes even sometimes fall short when they are seeking to deliver,” he said.
Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, who spoke in place of President Donald Ramotar, said the attackers’ motive was not to rob but to kill. “They came here with an agenda.” He echoed concerns similar to Edghill’s about Hughes’ role in securing acquittals for the accused persons.
Nandlall, who is responsible for the East Coast Demerara in the PPP’s structure, warned the resident of Lusignan to be wary of opposition election campaigners ahead of the polling day four months from now. “Those very people will come in the community of Lusignan in due course in an attempt to embrace you because of a political event that will come in May and they will try to tell you all sorts of things,” he said.