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|The protest last Tuesday by villagers, on the East Coast Demerara (ECD), seeking justice for 23-year-old Qunidon Bacchus, who was allegedly shot and killed by policeman Kristoff De Nobrega, in what the Guyana Police Force (GPF) said was a sting operation for illegal guns, turned sour when the crowd reached the Mon Repos area.
Relatives and villagers started the march at Golden Grove, with the intent to reach Georgetown to petition their case for justice. They walked along the villages of Haslington, Enmore, Paradise, Enterprise, Melanie, Coldingen, Bladen Hall, Strathspey, Vigilance, Friendship, Buxton, Annandale, Lusignan, Good Hope ECD peacefully, until the crowd reached to Mon Repos. Notably, residents in some of these villages are predominantly African, Indian and mixed races.
Disorder broke out in the Mon Repos market area resulting in damage and loss of property, and persons physically assaulted. There are mixed views on what could have caused the mayhem. Some attributed it to a false report by another media house that De Nobrega was walking free; infiltration of agent provocateurs; poor policing and crowd control management; protestors being verbally assaulted when they passed through some areas. In Guyana the truth is often conjectured and hardly proven.
President Irfaan Ali visited the area after and promised full financial compensation to those who claim to have suffered loss and damage. Vendors have been receiving payout, some to the sum of millions. The Pholourie lady who claimed $3million in damage was reportedly given $200 thousand compensation. Persons have since been charged by police.
In an invited comment about what occurred on Tuesday, the A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Member of Parliament and Shadow Minister of Legal Affairs, Roysdale Forde SC, said it was unfortunate that a genuine cry for justice has been marred by later events.
The Member of Parliament says he empathises with the Bacchus’ relatives and the supporters of justice for the deceased; persons affected by the incidents that transpired in Mon Repos; and those affected by the firing of shots and tear gas by members of the GPF. “It is regrettable that the protest was used by certain elements to engage in activities which are solely aimed at undermining the legitimacy of the grievances of the protestors,” said Forde
The shadow minister said whilst the protest action was aimed at expressing indignation concerning the killing of Bacchus by a serving member of the GPF, it must be appreciated that a key characteristic of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic’s (PPP/C) governance has been rogue policemen, wantonly and with unchecked impunity, killing and maiming citizens. “This has continued unabated with the killings of Peter Headley, Orin Boston and now Quindon Bacchus.”
Extrajudicial killings in Guyana, prevalent during successive PPP/C governments, have attracted international attention, including from Amnesty International. Asking Forde to weigh in on the Police’s response to the crowd and crowd control, he said the behaviour of some members is regrettable because their actions help in undermining public confidence in the Force which is necessary for crime fighting, keeping the peace, law and order.
Turning attention to President Ali, Forde said he notes the report of “President Ali’s promise of full compensation to those who have purportedly lost goods and other items at Mon Repos. However, this is in stark contrast to the fact that the Bacchus family of Golden Grove was forced to deal with their loss without a similar commitment of support from the President.” According to the Post Mortem Report, released by the Police, Bacchus died from multiple gunshot wounds. He was shot six times- five times to the back and once to the chest. Forde therefore questioned the President’s mantra of ‘One Guyana,’ which he said continues to ring hollow and his actions and that of his government continue to divide the people of Guyana.