By Devina Samaroo
Maureen Harry falls to her knees, crying uncontrollably at a tombstone where the charred remains of her husband were said to be buried.
It is the first time since his mysterious death 10 years ago that she visited his final resting place.
Today marks ten years since Maureen received the dreaded news that her husband, Bonny Harry, was murdered under unclear circumstances at a mining camp up the Berbice River at the height of a deadly crime wave in Guyana.
It seems the cold wind and heavy showers that rushed were intended to set the sobering atmosphere of a memorial walk for Maureen and other friends and family of those who perished tragically the Lindo Creek camp in 2008.
Maureen’s husband, along with seven other men – Compton Speirs, Horace Drakes, Nigel Torres, Clifton Wong, Lanccelot Lee, DaxArokium, and Cedric Arokium – were found burnt to death.
The group of grieving faces huddled together under a small tent at the Square of the Revolution, waiting for the rain to ease before they set course for the Le Repentir Cemetery where the unidentifiable remains of the eight murdered miners were buried in two coffins.
The rain came with more force but the mourners could not wait any longer. With umbrellas in hand, they began the journey to the final resting place of their loved ones, some of them for the first time.
When they arrived, the burial ground already showed signs of flooding but luckily the organisers planned ahead, placing wooden boards to form bridges across the tombs.
With a sense of sadness in the air, the mourners hopped from tomb to tomb in an effort pay their respects by laying wreaths and spraying perfume.
But a small spat began after family members upset that the remains were buried at separate locations. They contended that the remains should have been placed together, at one gravestone, in memory of the Lindo Creek massacre.
Maureen’s life has been a struggle since her husband died. She wants closure, justice and compensation.
The Guyana Government has already reached out to family members, inviting them to submit letters of request for compensation.
Maureen is yet to submit hers but she already knows she wants financial assistance.
“Right now the place where I am living for the last five to six years, when it rains, it’s ‘share’ water; my house leaks nonstop.
“In the yard, you see fishes and snakes; I can’t live with it,” she stated.
Pauline Yearwood, who has five children with the late Horace Drakes, wants compensation in the form of lands and jobs for herself and her kids.
Carmen Gittens, the sister of the late Compton Spiers, wants financial compensation as high as $25 million. Gittens said no one can put a price tag on the pain and sufferings her family went through after losing Spiers, but she believes that after ten years, $25 million is a fair request.
For Jacqueline Arokium – who lost her son Dax – closure may only come after the murderers are punished.
“I am hoping and expecting that the people who destroyed my son should be punished for it. Maybe that will bring closure.
“I am so sorry that I have to be so unforgiving, but maybe that will bring closure to me, when I can see them physically punished on this earth because I know for sure they will be in the hands of God,” she expressed.
Natalie Hinds-McDonald, the aunty of Horace Drakes, expressed similar sentiments. She also took a jab at the previous administration for not reaching out to the family members of the massacred Lindo Creek miners.
“They visited the families of those at the Lusignan Massacre, the Bartica Massacre. Every day you turn on your TV and you see them. What happened to us?” she asked.
The ongoing Commission of Inquiry (COI) has brought some amount of hope for the bereaved family and friends, who for the last ten years, thought that justice would have never been served.
They were never satisfied with the Guyana Police Force’s investigation into the men’s deaths, mainly because no one was ever charged.
The COI – which was established by President David Granger – is in the final stages of its investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of the miners.
The Commissioner, Justice Donald Trotman, told News Room Wednesday that the report of findings and recommendations should be submitted to the Head of State in three weeks.
He has reached out to members of the past administration, including the President of the time, Bharrat Jagdeo, then Prime Minister Samuel Hinds and the Minister of Home Affairs, Clement Rohee – but they have all expressed reservations about being interviewed.
Jagdeo, who is opposition leader, is on record criticizing the COI, insisting that it a political affair since the lone Commissioner is the father of Raphael Trotman, the Minister of Natural Resources, and the Commission’s Attorney is Patrice Henry, the brother of the Minister of Education, Nicolette Henry.
There are two theories as to who was responsible for the men’s death –either the notorious ‘Fineman’ and his Gang, who were thought to be in the area at the time or Joint Services ranks who were in hot pursuit of the gang.