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The Guyana National Youth Council strongly condemns the recent horrendous murders
of three young Guyanese—Isaiah Henry, Joel Henry and Haresh Persaud—in the village
of Cotton Tree, on the West Coast of Berbice. These despicable killings have fanned the
flames of racial division to an extent that many of us have never experienced. They have
unearthed and intensified anger, mistrust, and fear–toward each other, our leaders and
our institutions. This is certainly not the future we envision, nor one our young people
deserve to inherit.
In our nation, where youth make up more than 60% of the population, it is our individual
and collective responsibility to ensure that our young people are safe and protected. We,
as young people, have an even stronger responsibility to begin the process of closing the
inherited divide in our nation by standing with a united voice against any form of
discrimination, race-baiting, incitement, and violence—regardless of the demographics of
the victims or perpetrators. We resolutely oppose any form of disharmony on the basis of
race. It has no place in our Guyana.
Our youth are the leaders of tomorrow, yes, but leadership from our young people is
urgently needed today too. Each of us, within our own families, groups and communities,
has a role to play by standing firm against racism with our words and our deeds. We must
insist on the responsible use of media and social media platforms, engaging in dialogue
where there are differences of opinion, taking the time to educate ourselves on the cultural
and historical heritage of the six main ethnic groups that make up our country, and
holding leaders accountable when they attempt to divide us.
The Guyana National Youth Council calls for a national day of mourning to signal a shift
in our national consciousness as a step towards boldly confronting the issues that
continuously plague our progression to a place of truly being “One People, One Nation,
One Destiny”. The task is ours to have the difficult truthful conversations that alone will
bring about healing.
Finally, to use the words of Kampta Karran (1994) in his article Bridging the Racial
Divide in Guyana: Problems and Proposals, “every individual, group and institution
must collectively share the responsibility of transforming Guyana from a racially
fragmented society to a structurally cohesive homeland.”
Our nation was collectively built through the hard work and sacrifices of six peoples.
Surely the time has come for us to truly and meaningfully take strides towards becoming
one people, one nation, with one destiny.
National Youth Council