By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Executive Member of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA), Tacuma Ogunseye has given testimony at the ongoing Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry (COI), claiming that that extra judicial killings were very rampant under the rule of the People’s National Congress (PNC) government between the period 1964 to 1992.
However, he surmised that such killings worsened when the current People’s Progressive Party (PPP) regime took office.
Former Policeman Robert Gates who wrapped up his testimony at the Inquiry yesterday claimed that around 30 persons were executed by a death squad that operated under the Guyana Police Force (GPF) during the 1977-1980 Forbes Burnham-led Administration.
The former Police Constable later clarified that the killings were carried out by the Execution Branch of the Death Squad of which he was a member, adding that about 12 of the executions were extra-judicial killings.
The PNC had compiled a document claiming that between 1993 – 2000, 200 to 400 persons were allegedly shot to death and otherwise unlawfully killed by the “Black Clothes” squad and some other rogue elements in the Police Force.
The WPA Executive testified that in the 1970s the Police had a depressing nature and excesses were rampant as they did the bidding of the then government.
Ogunseye initially denied that the WPA was collecting arms and ammunition and countered claimed that the then government had many oppressive arms including the police and army which the WPA could not confront. As such the WPA developed a political defence which was to win the army over and make them an ally of the revolution.
He did point out that among the Party’s objective was to overthrow the government outside of the electoral process and admitted that some leaders were given automatic pistols.
The WPA Executive denied knowing of any plan to blow up the Georgetown Prisons, as was alleged, or that Rodney had any such plans.
He said the WPA was not violent in any way in its revolution movement; adding that the Party never killed any member of the Police Force or PNC supporters.
Dr. Walter Rodney, a Guyanese political activist and intellectual, died on June 13, 1980, when a ‘walkie talkie’ in his car exploded. He is believed to have been murdered and had written several books prior to his untimely demise.
The COI among other things will inquire who or what was responsible for the explosion that led to Rodney’s death, whether it was an accident or an act of terrorism and the role of some persons and agencies, if any, in his death.