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…. Gov’t to table motion to adopt COI report, recommendations
The Death Certificate of prominent Guyanese historian, political activist and academic, Dr. Walter Rodney will be amended to change the cause of death from “misadventure” to “assassination,” Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall told the National Assembly as he signaled Government’s intention to move a motion to not only adopt the Dr. Walter Rodney COI Report but to “set the record straight” on the circumstances surrounding the death of the distinguished Guyanese.
“For too long, Dr. Walter Rodney’s death has been the subject of an irreverent misdescription. It was not a misadventure. It was an assassination. A great stain on our Republic. This sadistic misrepresentation on Dr. Rodney’s death certificate, prevented his family from recovering not a blind cent from his life insurance policy, the only financial provision he had made for his family, his wife and three infant children. This desecration must end now. His death certificate will be amended to delete the words ‘’misadventure’’ as the cause of death and substitute therefor, the word ‘’assassination,”” the Attorney General told the House.
He noted too that Dr. Rodney’s job description on his Death Certificate will be changed from “unemployment” to “professor.”
“Although this son of Guyana was known and respected throughout the world for his academic accomplishments, scholarship and activism, his death certificate described him as “unemployed’’, as he was denied a job at his country’s only University after working at Universities across the globe. This historical wrong will be corrected and that death certificate will be corrected to read ‘’Professor’’ instead of “unemployed,”” Nandlall assured.
June 13, 2021 will mark 41 years since Dr. Rodney was assassinated at the age of 38 when a bomb exploded in his car. At the time, he was the Leader of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA).
Nandlall told the House that the move to adopt the report is in keeping with a request from Dr. Rodney’s wife Dr. Patricia Rodney and children – Shaka Rodney, Kanini Rodney-Phillips MD and Asha T. Rodney Esq. – for President Irfaan Ali and the Government to formally honor his life, legacy and contribution and to finally set the public record straight in relation to matters surrounding his tragic death.
“The news of Dr. Rodney’s tragic death sent shock tremors to the conscience of Guyanese, West Indians, Americans, Europeans, Africans and indeed people, the world over. To say that Dr. Rodney’s death and ensuing events in relation thereto, were a horrendous miscarriage of justice, would be an appalling understatement. The self-evident truth is that when wrongs of such magnitude occur, they can never really be righted. The least that can be done in this instance is to attempt to grant the wishes of the loved ones of Dr. Rodney and to work with them in bringing these wishes to fruition, as they attempt to forge their own closure in relation to this horrific tragedy,” the Attorney General said.
He reminded that on February 8, 2014, a Commission of Inquiry was appointed by then President Donald Ramotar, to inquire into and report on, the circumstances surrounding the death of Dr. Rodney. The COI Report, however, though tabled in in 2016, was not adopted.
The Attorney General said the Ali Administration has since committed to move another Motion, seeking the approval of the COI Report by this House and a resolution that the recommendations contained therein be approved.
He said that the Government has begun and will continue its efforts to secure the record of the 2014 Commission of Inquiry. He said the records will be digitized by the National Archives, recently renamed the Walter Rodney National Archives, in collaboration with the Walter Rodney Foundation and the Atlanta University Center – Robert W. Woodruff Library and copies will be housed at that institution as part of the Walter Rodney Papers and Special Collection.
“The Rodney Gravesite and Memorial are currently being managed collaboratively between the Rodney Family and the National Trust. Today, I am proud to announce that they will be declared National Monuments and fall under the administration of The National Trust,” he further disclosed.
It was noted too that Dr. Rodney’s books such as A History of the Guyanese Working People, Guyanese Sugar Plantations in the late Nineteenth Century, and How Europe Underdeveloped Africa will be made available to the library of the University of Guyana. The Walter Rodney Chair at the University of Guyana will also be reestablished.
Importantly, he said every effort will be made to remove and expunge all public records that intimate any level of guilt or wrongdoing by Dr Rodney in relation to the June 13, 1980 tragedy. Just recently the Court of Appeal set aside Dr. Rodney’s brother, Donald Rodney’s conviction.