Political leaders call for national unity during memorial service for Lusignan massacre victims
What happened at Lusignan, East Coast Demerara in the wee hours of January 26, 2008, must never happen again. These were sentiments shared by political leaders during the observance of the 13th anniversary of the massacre that rocked the nation all those years ago.
During the memorial service on Tuesday at Lusignan, the politicians called for national unity and reconciliation.
The notorious ‘Fine Man’ led a gang of men with high powered rifles through the street and brutally shot five children who were sleeping in their beds, along with others; 11 persons died that day.
“This took place in an action of commentary that was taking place on television at that time,” Minister of Public Works, Juan Edghill stated. The minister said the mass killing was not a crime of passion, but was premeditated, racially and politically motivated.
The brutalities of that night will forever be etched into the memories of the families that lost loved ones.
Member of Parliament for the opposition A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) coalition, Ganesh Mahipaul, during remarks also urged political and religious leaders, civil society leaders and community leaders to work together in bridging the gap with racism in Guyana.
“I believe education plays a great role in suppressing racism,” Mahipaul stated.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister, Brigadier (rt’d) Mark Phillips said that despite fear and frustration all these years, the community of Lusignan remains steadfast and has managed to grieve and keep the memory of those killed.
“I salute the strength of you the people of Lusignan, you the people who will not give up and you the people who daily display the determination of moving forward while honouring the lives of your loved ones that were lost in the massacre,” the Prime Minister said.
The Indian Action Committee (IAC) hosted the annual Remembrance Day for the lives lost and was applauded for their continuous support to the grieving families. The event was attended by leaders from the Christian, Hindu and Muslim communities who all prayed for the families and community.
Those killed were 48-year-old Clarence Thomas, his 12-year-old daughter Vanessa Thomas and his 11-year-old son, Ron Thomas; 32-year-old Mohandan Gourdat, her two sons 10-year-old Seegopaul Harrilal and 4-year-old Seegobin Harrilall; 52-year-old Dhanwajie Ramsingh and adopted daughter 11-year-old, Raywattie Ramsingh; Shaleem Baksh 52-year-old; Seecharran Rooplall, 56-year-old and 22-year-old Shazam Mohammed.
Speaking to those gathered, Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, SC, stated that the massacre scarred the psyche of the nation permanently; he called for introspection and reflection to see whether as a society we have learnt anything from the incident.
“How else can we pay respect and homage to those who perished; if at least as a society, as a people, we do not do that which is necessary to ensure there is not a reoccurrence. It is clear that this was not a mere crime. It was an act of immense hatred, a manifestation of unimaginable cruelty and a human rights tragedy.”
The Attorney-General stated that the country has failed miserably, as not a single person who perpetrated the acts nor the intellectual authors of the event have been convicted by the legal system for this tragedy. He warned that the circumstances and the underlying factors which gave rise to the massacre, still exist in society.