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|Veteran broadcast journalist and former Chairman of the National Communications Network (NCN), Mr. Enrico Woolford, has issued a public call to the Ethnic Relations Commission to investigate Indian activist, Mr. Ravi Dev’s letter of September 4, 2022, in Stabroek News, titled ‘Indian Guyanese boycotted CARIFESTA 1 after Burnham’s contemptuous dismissal of their leaders’ recommendations.’
In that letter Dev made the assertion that “At Independence in 1966, I was in Secondary School with the ethnic cleansing of 1300 Indian Guyanese in the ‘Wismar Massacre’ and sinking of the Sun Chapman with 43 African Guyanese dead, still raw.”
According to Woolford, the excerpt “is an extremely unfortunate juxtaposition, tendentious vilification sans verification, authentication or validation from Ravi Dev.”
Village Voice reached out to Mr. Hamilton Green, former Prime Minister and Mayor of Georgetown for comment on Dev’s assertion. “It is time to stop the narrative of proclaiming Indians as victims of violence when African were too,” said Green, who also served as General Secretary of the People’s National Congress (PNC) during the 1960s, the period under review.
Green further said the violence between the two major race groups was one of “tit for tat, and having lived through the period” he thinks “the nonsense of attributing blame to only one group must stop if we are to move on.”
He pointed out that in the blame game, Dev and others, make no reference to what happened in Mahaicony and West Coast Berbice, where a number of African Guyanese were killed, and that acts of this nature influenced the resentment by people in Linden who had families in the Mahaicony and West Coast Berbice areas.
Citing his own personal experience, Green said in 1962 his house at Lot 58 Howes Street, Charlestown, Georgetown, was bombed. It is a part of history, he said, he prefers not to talk about but the constant misrepresentation of the past that paints one race as victim and the other as villain is inaccurate.
Lending some context to what happened in the 1960s, Green said it was a situation that started in the 1950s with Apaan Jaat (Hindi word meaning support your own kind), and became a slogan in the 1957 election which the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) won, and led to subsequent efforts to relegate Africans to the lower rungs of the social ladder.
Woolford in a letter today in Stabroek News titled, ‘Extremely unfortunate juxtaposition by Ravi Dev,’ finds the letter disconcerting enough to “publicly call on the Ethnic Relations Commission to investigate [the] excerpt and the letter in its entirety for veracity, hostility and concomitant action.”