President Irfaan Ali on Friday met with residents of Paradise/Belladrum, West Coast Berbice (WCB) where the issue of race relations was openly discussed along with the need to support agricultural activities, youth and community development.
The residents raised concerns over the inciteful comments on social media that fosters division and which they view as “disgusting and distasteful.”
This, they said, only serves to create tension in the communities.
According to a press release from the Office of the President, Ali reminded of his stance on this issue and pointed to his recent, public statement, condemning such acts.
“I addressed racist statements on social media and I just came from other communities who have the same fear. If we all have the same fear then we should all work on the same solution. That is why I said in my statement that we will address very sternly, using all the laws, those who are using social media to spread hate, those who are using social media to spread racism and those who are using social media to divide us,” the President was quoted saying.
He pointed to the international Commission of Inquiry (COI) which he announced recently, noting that “we have to examine all these statements.”
“It does not help you, it does not help me, it does not help the community, it does not help the country. That is why I am out here today, to tell you that as president, I am leading a Government that wants to work with everybody,” he added.
The residents of Belladrum in August launched a major protest calling for the release of Mr. Clairmont Mingo who served as the Returning Officer for Region during the March 2020 elections. They recently joined in widespread protests calling for justice for Isaiah and Joel Henry whose mutilated bodies were discovered in the Cotton Tree, WCB backlands on September 6.
The Head of State thanked the residents for engaging his office and for their openness in sharing their concerns relating to their community.
“I am a President for all Guyana and I want to work with every community,” he promised.
He had also asked the residents to form a group to have continuous engagement with the executive.
“This must not be a one-off dialogue,” he said noting that everything must be done to improve community life, community relations and to ensure that all Guyanese get a better standard of living.
The residents raised concerns about the support of agricultural activities, including rice cultivation and issues of youth and community development.
The Head of State pointed to the importance of continued dialogue to the success of any intervention within the community and encouraged those present to form working groups to ensure that more will be achieved in a structured manner.
He also reminded of the measures provided in the Emergency Budget that will bring even more benefits to Guyanese families.
President Ali said, “This approach by the Government is one that will see continuous engagement, meeting with communities, listening to communities. At the end of the day, we have to build a strong country, a resilient country, a country that is unified and one that represents the interest of all Guyanese, through the implementation of policies and programmes.”
President Ali’s meeting with the Paradise/Belladrum community followed his visit to the relatives of slain teenagers Haresh Singh, Joel Henry and Isaiah Henry in Number Three Village and the family of Prittipaul Hargobin who was also killed during the protest action that erupted along the West Coast Berbice corridor.