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Guyana needs a “mother-of-all-inquiries” – Jagdeo

President Donald Ramotar should be asked to hold the “mother-of-all-inquiries” into the deaths of hundreds of persons including Agriculture Minister Satyadeow Sawh over the last several decades, according to his predecessor Bharrat Jagdeo.

“Let’s do one comprehensive inquiry into everything…Let’s look at any case of violence in an inquiry, let’s bring in some foreigners,” he said, adding that he was not interested in probes into selected incidents.

“Maybe we can propose that to Ramotar too when he gets re-elected,” he said.

Jagdeo would like to see such a probe delve into the circumstances and reasons for the killing of three persons, including a policeman, in 1973 on the Corentyne during elections then, the massacres in Lusignan and Bartica in January and February 2008, the release of 150 guns from the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) two of which were found in the hands of criminals at Mahaicony in 2004, the smuggling of guns from neighbouring Suriname to criminals in Buxton during the 2002-2008 violent crime spree, extra-judicial killings by the ‘phantom’ and other squads,  the killing of policemen in Buxton, violence around elections and a re-do of the Commission of Inquiry into the Linden unrest related to the then proposed hike in electricity tariffs. 

Sawh and several family members were gunned down in April 2006 by gunmen who invaded his home at La Bonne Intention moments after they had arrived. He had reportedly blocked the allocation of a huge forest concession at Kaow Island, Essequibo River to Aurelius Inc; a company whose principal, Shahdeed ‘Roger’ Khan was later convicted and jailed in the United States for drug trafficking.

During the pre-dawn hours of January 26, 2008 heavily armed gunmen invaded the village of Lusignan where they invaded residents’ homes and shot dead 11 persons including five children. Many others had been seriously injured. On the night of February 17, 2008 at least 20 heavily armed men arrived by boat and invaded the mining township of Bartica, killing at least 12 residents including three policemen at the police station.

The gang leader, Rondell “Fineman” Rawlins, was gunned down by security forces in August 2008, marking the end of a sordid chapter in Guyana’s history that began with the February 2002 violent escape of five inmates from the Georgetow Prison.

A Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the bomb-blast death of Working People’s Alliance (WPA) co-leader Dr. Walter Rodney on June 13, 1980 is currently underway. He was killed at a time when the WPA had been advocating a civil rebellion against the then People’s National Congress (PNC)-led administration of Forbes Burnham.