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Aftermath: In the Wake of the Lusignan Massacre (Guyana)

By Sheba     Jan 29, 2008 in World
Three days after eleven men, women and children were gunned down in their homes in the early hours of the morning, protests and continued unrest plague the East Coast of Demerara, Guyana.
The effects of last Saturday's barbaric killings is being felt throughout this tiny South American nation. Fears of ethnic conflict and even civil war are now coming to light.
As the protests continue the police force that was so unwilling to even take phone calls while the massacre was in progress are now out in full force to maintain peace and order. In fact they are so zealous to do their job and do it well that they ignored the warnings of the owner of a nearby private school to not use tear gas for the safety of the students and went ahead and shot tear gas anyway, sending thirty children to hospital.
According to the Head Teacher of the private institution, Urmilla Persaud, several of the students started fainting soon after they became exposed to a noxious substance which was reportedly fired off by police officers.
Disregarding his advice, Teddy recounted, the officers fired off the tear gas in every direction, eventually affecting the children as well as scores of others in the Mon Repos Market at the time.
“I tell you, if something wrong to anyone of these children, the police gon pay…,” the visibly enraged Teddy warned.
The school was closed for the rest of the day with a promise that it will remain closed until calm returns to the East Coast of Demerara.
Businesses
The unrest has also taken its toll on business in the capital city of Georgetown, about twelve miles away from the village where the massacre took place. Georgetown has become a virtual ghost town since Saturday. Residents are afraid to go out fearing for their safety not knowing if or when the killers will strike again.
Usually busy street deserted. Photo by Kaieteur News
Usually busy street deserted. Photo by Kaieteur News
Businesses voiced fears of a total shutdown of the country. At Manu's Variety Store someone commented; “Many of the customers we deal with are from villages along the East Coast and (from) as far as Berbice; and since the incident sales have dropped…persons are definitely afraid to venture onto the streets..."
The only businesses claiming to be doing business as usual are the banks. According to Juanita Persico, Manager of Operations at Demerara Bank Limited, there was obviously a sign that people were cautious, but their usual month-end crowd was obvious, too.
More protests
Protesters set cane fields on fire while Lusignan remains in a state of chaos with a stand off between protesters and member of the Joint Services, a security branch of the police force. Angry protesters are asking why the police are heckling them while the killers are still at large.
One frustrated resident was visibly upset at the action of the police following the arrest of her son.
“Me nah know why dem nah go look fuh de criminal…we is not criminals, we just protesting fuh we rights and dem a beat we and lock we up!” Another man was immediately arrested when he allegedly jammed a police rank with his vehicle.
This incident forged another anxious standoff with the police ranks.
Police arrest a protestor at Lusignan. Photo courtesy of Kaieteur News
Police arrest a protestor at Lusignan. Photo courtesy of Kaieteur News
The Media
Now for the first time in three days the Kaieteur News, the source used exclusively for this story, has voiced its opinion in its PAGE ONE COMMENT. This paper has reported this story in an unbiased fashion (something rare in Western media) and has printed its opinion in a separate column. Basically, its the opinion of the paper that...This newspaper understands the anger and concern being vented by ordinary citizens in predominantly East Indian communities of the East Coast following the massacre of last Saturday. The people’s hurt is genuine.
However, this newspaper is convinced that political elements aligned to the ruling party have also been instigating some of these protests. The people of the East Coast and further afield should not allow themselves to be manipulated by political instigators who wish to dabble in gimmickry so as to divert attention from the inadequacies of the Government in confronting the security threat now facing the country. It is not only politically irresponsible but smacks of the worst type of moral reprehensibility the human mind can comprehend.
Cutting words. More of the like followed.
We ask, in all sincerity, how will protests such as what took place over the weekend into yesterday solve the dilemma of the East Indian community, who for too long have borne the brunt of acts of violence and terror?
If the leaders do not have what it takes to get the job done, they should step aside and make way for those with leadership fortitude and courage. We urge that the entire Guyanese population join us in this call. The time has come for all of us to ditch diplomatic language and speak to the Guyana Government for forceful changes.
The Government must demonstrate that it is prepared to confront the forces of evil. The President of Guyana should issue the appropriate instructions, and he must be prepared to act if these are not followed or results not forthcoming in a timely manner.
The time for pussyfooting is over. It is now time to deal with this threat; to root it out once and for all so that all Guyanese can live in safety. We end with the belief that if, in the present circumstances, the present leaders cannot show this nation results, then we they should give way to others who are prepared to show leadership qualities so that Guyana can be saved.
Peace be upon Guyana!
This newspaper has also started a fund for the victims' relatives. They've received over $850,000 Guyana Dollars so far.
The Autopsies Post mortem traumatise strangers...witnesses were moved by the sight of the Lusignan victims more than by the demise of their own loved ones.
I saved this for last, you'll see why. I do not know how to say the following better so please forgive me for quoting extensively. This is very graphic and disturbing, once again I am impressed with the professional (unemotional) reportage of this news paper.
A veteran investigator said yesterday that he was left 'sickened to his stomach' as he watched a pathologist conduct autopsies on the victims of Saturday's massacre at Lusignan.
The paper was told that nine of the victims were shot in the head. Some had been shot four times, others seven times. The postmortem confirmed that most of them were shot in their beds or on their floors.
In the main, the bodies all bore gaping exit wounds, indicating that high-powered weapons were used to carry out the slaughter. “We only found a few pellets and two pieces of metal (in the corpses),” an official told Kaieteur News.
“(Almost) every bullet went in and out.”
The investigators were particularly horrified by the disclosure that one of the two little girls who were slain was clearly shot at point blank range. According to a source, the gunman who executed her pressed his weapon directly onto the girl's shoulder before squeezing the trigger.
“The bullet went straight through her shoulder and damaged her lungs.”
“I have never seen anything like this in all my years, one officer said.
The Dead
The names of the diseased are:
Shazam Mohamed; Clarence Thomas; his son, Ron, 11; daughter, Vanessa 12; Mohandai Gourdat, 32; her two children: Seegobind, four years old, and Seegopaul Harilall, 10; Shalem Baksh, 52; Rooplall Seecharan, 56; his daughter, Raywattie Ramsingh, 11; and his wife, Dhanrajie, called Sister, 52.
The injured are: Howard Thomas, 19, Nadir Mohamed, 48, and Roberto Thomas, five.
The first funeral is expected to take place tomorrow.
Note: Hours prior to the shocking incident, gunmen had sprayed the Police Headquarters, Eve Leary with bullets, wounding two police ranks, thus causing a distraction for what was to come. This would indicate that this massacre was not a random act but it was well planned and executed.
More about Guyana, Massacre, Lusignan