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Human rights activist, Zenita Nicholson dies under suspicious circumstances

FLASH BACK: Zenita Nicholson receives US Embassy’s International Woman of Courage Award from Charge d’ Affaires, Bryan Hunt in March, 2014.

Well-known human rights activist, Zenita Nicholson, who was the victim of domestic violence, died early Monday morning after ingesting several carbon tablets that are used to kill rats, police said.

Zenita Nicholson was up to the time of her passing winding down a project as Country Coordinator for the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC) and the Centre of Integral Orientation and Investigation (COIN).

It is unclear whether she drank them voluntarily or was forced to consume them by her partner who is a Mauritian attending an offshore medical university here. A senior police officer said they were investigating the circumstances of her death based on the information so far.

Nicholson was 37 years old and he is 29 years old.

Executive Member of the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD), Joel Simpson said police merely took a statement from Nicholson’s partner although investigators believed that there might have been foul play.

Simpson recalled receiving a call from a mutual friend at about 4:10 AM, informing him that Nicholson died at the St. Joseph’s Mercy Hospital. She actually died at 3:15 AM.

On arriving at the hospital, he said the friend related that Nicholson had called him at about 2 AM urging him to collect her from her home at D’Aguiar’s Park and take her to the hospital because she had ingested 10 carbon tablets.

Her partner, who accompanied her to the hospital, said he did not know what happened as he went to bed and left her working late. The partner said he  was later awakened by Nicholson who complained of feeling unwell.

Simpson said Nicholson told him about the alleged domestic abuse at the hands of the Mauritian last week Sunday, October 18, 2015 when she asked for assistance in hiring a Canter truck to remove from D’Aguiar’s Park and return to her home because “this guy was seeing and living with her used to beat her.”

Simpson said he had insisted that Nicholson make a report to the police station, but he said the police at Providence had advised her to go to the station at Ruimveldt because that was responsible for her district.

The SASOD official further recalled that Nicholson had cancelled her plans to remove because she had her partner had agreed to resolve their differences to a point and that he would seek counseling.

Asked whether he had ever seen marks of violence on Nicholson, Simpson said his long time friend and colleague member of SASOD had told him that her partner had allegedly dragged her by her hair and  known where and how to hit her to avoid any visible marks.

Nicholson was in March 2014 awarded the United States (US) embassy’s first International Woman of Courage Award for her work against homophobia and fighting for women’s rights.

“This award is about courage and leadership. Zenita Nicholson embodies these principles and exemplifies the traditions of personal freedom and equality that remain shared values between Guyana and the United States,” said US Embassy Charge d’Affaires, Bryan Hunt before presenting her with the award. 

Inscribed are the words “In Recognition of your exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for women’s rights and empowerment and raising public awareness to protect the human rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender persons.”