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– residents of Belladrum keep roadway blocked; vow to keep up protest until Mingo is released
Protesters at Belladrum blocked the roadway starting from 09:30hrs on Sunday preventing vehicles from passing through the mainly Afro-Guyanese village.
Residents are incensed by the continued detention of their fellow villager, Clairmont Mingo who is being held by police on charges described as ‘trumped up’
Mingo is likely to appear before a magistrate on Monday.
At the scene there has been heavy police presence throughout the day but has not deterred the protesters from moving debris including an abandoned building and also the shell of a motor car onto the roadway.
The protesters shouted ‘Free Mingo. We will not move until Mingo is freed.’
In the crowd were scores of women women who sang hymns evoking sentiments of the civil rights movement.
“We shall overcome,” was one such songs. And as they sang drummers belted out drumbeats, sending the already emotionally-corwd into frenzied dancing.
Village Voice observed people who were taking home deceased relatives for burial, they were allowed to pass. Others who were travelling to receive medical treatment were also allowed to access. Other persons disembarked and were allowed to walk over the bridge uhindered. They subsequently joined vehicles on the other side. but the bulk of the vehicles were stranded on both sides of the road.Throughout the day the protesters expressed their anger at the imprisonment of Mingo and many vowed that they will continue to block the road until Mingo is released from custody.
Since last week residents of Belladrum and adjoining communities had been agitating over the detention of Mingo. Close to a hundred residents of Belladrum Paradise and other villages in West Coast Berbice gathered on the bridge between Paradise and Belladrum last Thursday morning in a show of solidarity wiith Mingo.
Those gathered bore placards stating as follows: “Black Lives matter” “Clairmont Mingo Belladrum stands with you. “Free Mingo” “Guyana is not a Police State” “The Crime Chief is a stooge of the PPP” “Mingo is a human being he must be treated lawfully.”
Mingo is a resident of Paradise Village on the West Coast of Berbice. An organiser explained that “residents saw and heard on Benschop 107.1 FM radio how the Mingo family complained about being prevented from seeing him and about not being allowed to give him a change of clothing and so they came out to assemble and show their solidarity. People passing stopped and joined us,” the organiser said.
On Saturday night the coalition alleged that the Guyana Police Force on Saturday had transformed the peaceful West Coast Berbice village of Belladrum into a virtual “war zone.”
“Presumptive Leader of the APNU+AFC Opposition Joseph Harmon issued an urgent and immediate call on the Guyana Police Force to immediately cease and desist from inciting and intimidating the peaceful residents of Belladrum,” the coalition said in a release Saturday evening.
Specifically, Harmon called on Commander Cooper, Deputy Commander Mandal and Sergeant Mc Donald and all other officers and ranks who have occupied the village to stand down with immediate effect. Reports from the village are that heavily-armed police in full riot gear have taken up positions at virtually every corner of the village and residents are frightened and fearful by their alarming and sudden presence. “It would appear as though Guyana has descended into a police state, no murder or major crime has been committed in Belladrum, why are the police targeting this village?” Mr Harmon said. “Our supporters and the residents of Belladrum are frightened tonight as a result of this massive police presence in the village without any explanation or warning whatsoever,” Harmon added.
“There is absolutely no need whatsoever for this excessive action by the police, it is clearly designed to incite and intimidate and we will not tolerate it,” Harmon declared. Residents of Belladrum on Friday staged a peaceful, socially distanced protest calling public attention to the mistreatment of GECOM Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo who has been in police custody for several days and who the High Court ordered released today. The Guyana Police Force has disregarded the order of the court and has kept Mr. Mingo in custody beyond the legally permitted 72 hours. The APNU+AFC also demands the immediate release of Mr. Mingo from police custody. “The civil liberties and the constitutional rights of citizens are being trampled and abused by the Guyana Police Force which has clearly reverted to being a political tool of persecution for the fraudulent and illegitimate PPP regime, the likes of which was the case prior to 2015,” Harmon observed.
The police have since denied inciting and intimidating residents. Cooper is quoted in another section of the media saying his ranks were building relationships with the people.