Calls abound for justice, peace as Henry boys laid to rest
Dozens of persons were given the opportunity to pay respects to 16-year-old Isaiah and 18-year-old Joel Henry at a Farewell Service organized by the International Decade for People of African Descent Assembly-Guyana on Sunday.
The service was held at the Parade Ground, Middle and Carmichael Streets, Georgetown before the caskets departed for Number Three Village, West Coast Berbice (WCB).
The battered and mutilated bodies of the teen cousins were discovered on Sunday last in the backlands of Cotton Tree, West Coast Berbice.
At the farewell service on Sunday, the common call among speakers who delivered remarks was for justice, peace and unity.
The family’s lawyer Nigel Hughes said: “none of us will ever know the true extent of excruciating pain, anguish and horror which enveloped your hitherto peaceful lives last weekend,” referring to September 6 when the teens’ bodies were discovered with multiple chop wounds at Cotton Tree, WCB.
He pointed out that the murders of the boys and that of 17-year-old Haresh Singh who was killed in the height of protests for justice for the teens “did not occur in a vacuum and the reactions to their awful brutal deaths did not occur without context.”
The Attorney delved into Guyana’s unstable race relations which was plunged into deeper turmoil over the past week noting that “we collectively have all contributed to the creation of this horribly deformed society we call Guyana which enabled the perpetrators of those gruesome murders to feel sufficient secure that they could engage in such acts of barbarity.”
Hughes called on leaders to do better as he said the unhealed wounds of racism and ethnicity can no longer be “ignored, denied or disacknowledged.”
Hughes, former Chairman of the Alliance For Change (AFC), called on the Government and Opposition to collaborate on dealing with racism as both parties are predominantly supported by persons of one or the other race.
“The time has come for our leaders to meet, sit and collectively address this national scourge… The time has come for our national leaders to jointly visit each other communities hold frank discussions with the communities so that they may get a true reflection of the realities of feelings of alienation and distrust which are real,” the Attorney said.
Calls for justice for the Henry boys have fueled the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement in Guyana.
As such, the Attorney said leaders must find creative ways “to teach our people that the celebration of your ethnic identity does not mean the denigration of another ethnic or racial identity.”
To forge a common destiny and live up to the country’s motto of ‘One people, One nation and One destiny,’ he said there must be equal rights and justice.
“Guyana is better than this,” he concluded.
Also delivering remarks was Opposition Member Nicolette Henry who is a cousin of the teens.
Fighting to hold back tears as she paid her tribute, the former Education Minister said “we’re still mourning and hurting and weeping as we look for solace and justice…one week since the family have learnt of the death of Joel and Isaiah.”
“We the family, all we’re asking for is justice for our boys, right now. Justice delayed is justice denied,” Henry added.
Chairperson of the PNC/R Volda Lawrence also stressed the importance of getting justice immediately
“We must not allow ourselves to be distracted so that we can be given excuses. We must keep the fire under the powers that be, to do all that they can to ensure that the murderers who live in our communities must be brought to justice. We want to ensure that the right persons are brought to justice. We want to ensure that the case is sound and solid against those murderers,” Lawrence said.
“Don’t let us leave here today and forget these boys. Let us resolutely take that charge to ensure that there is justice for Isaiah and Joel. Let us take that charge as mothers, women and fathers to protect and nurture every boy and girl in this land,” she added.
A post mortem examination found that they both died from haemorrhage and shock due to multiple incised injuries.
Joel received 18 wounds and also had several defensive wounds on his hands while Isaiah received several chops to his head.
The killers also carved out a huge ‘X’ on Isaiah’s head while they cut open Joel’s chest. The boys resided at Number 3 Village, West Coast Berbice.
They were last seen alive on September 5 when they left to go into the backdam to pick coconuts.