Govt mulls “support” for victims of West Berbice unrest

A section of the unrest along the West Berbice corridor last year
A section of the unrest along the West Berbice corridor last year

The Government is contemplating providing “support” for persons who were affected by last year’s weeks of protests along the West Coast Berbice corridor following the gruesome murders of teenagers Joel and Isaiah Henry.

This was revealed by President Dr Irfaan Ali on the sidelines of a press briefing this morning at State House.

While there may not be full compensation for losses and damages to properties, the Head of State assured that there will be some sort of “support” extended to those victims.

“There is something that we’re looking at and we’re continuing to look at… Compensation is a very loaded word because some people lost two, three vehicles but we are definitely going to support them and that process has started,” Ali reassured.

The deaths of the teenage cousins in September 2020 had sparked widespread public outrage, resulting in residents along the West Coast Berbice corridor taking to the streets.

The main Public Road, and lone access road, were blocked with debris, and tyres were set on fire as residents called for justice for slain teens.

However, these protests escalated into riotous actions as many persons attempting to traverse the WCB access road were beaten and robbed while vehicles were destroyed and at least one truck carrying paddy was set ablaze.

Additionally, at least two houses – at Bel Air, WCD and New Amsterdam, East Bank Berbice – and a barber shop at Bush lot, WCB, were also destroyed by fire during the violent protests.

The mutilated bodies of 16-year-old Isaiah Henry and 19-year-old Joel Henry were found in a backdam at Cotton Tree, WCB on September 6, 2020 almost two days after they had left their Number Three Village, WCB home to pick coconuts but never returned.

In January, police arrested and charged 19-year-old Akash Singh, called “Monkey,” of Zeelugt, East Bank Essequibo (EBE); his stepbrother, 33-year-old Anil Sancharra, called “Dan pole” and “Rasta,” of D’ Edward Village, WCB; and 34-year-old Vinod Gopaul, called “Magga,” of Yakusari, Black Bush Polder, Corentyne, Berbice for the gruesome murders.

Singh has since confessed to the crime, while the other alleged perpetrators have remained silent.