…calls for external investigation
Opposition Leader, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo has condemned the arrest of People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) supporter, Safraz Beekham who was reportedly placed into custody on Wednesday in connection with an alleged arson attempt on an Alliance for Change (AFC) Local Government Elections (LGE) candidate.
Beekham, who just last month had filed an affidavit at the High Court of Judicature against the AFC and Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) for having his name “fraudulently affixed” on a AFC nominators list, was reportedly arrested around midnight on Wednesday.
It is being reported that the AFC candidate, Rashree Permaul of Bloomfield village, in the Whim/Bloomfield Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) was alerted at approximately 21:45h to flames emanating from a fire which was set in a box placed next to the wall of the lower flat of her home.
The fire was put out quickly enough to prevent any major damage to the home. It was later discovered that a pillar of the home located close to the fire was reportedly doused in what appeared to be kerosene.
As such, in a statement, the AFC called on the Guyana Police Force (GPF) and the Guyana Fire Service (GFS) to fully investigate the incident.
“It is now evident that the campaign of threats and terror against the AFC activists, about which the party complained, has been taken to another level with this attempted arson. The resort to violence by political thugs and hooligans will not intimidate party fighters who are now more determined to work for change in this particular NDC” their statement said.
However, at his weekly press conference, Jagdeo disclosed that the arrest of Beekham is a witch-hunt by the Government’s Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan who he said was heard on television in Berbice publicly threatening to have Beekham “dealt with”.
The Opposition Leader is contending that the entire ordeal and arrest was contrived by the AFC to gain sympathy and to act as an intimidation tactic because the AFC court matter could go to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
“All of this must be fully investigated because it is an act of political gimmickry by AFC and intimidation on the part of the Ministry of Public Security so the other people might not want to come forward because of fear of victimization” Jagdeo posited.
As such, he is calling for the matter to be fairly investigated outside of the GPF and by an independent investigating firm.
“We must investigate this matter fully, if it’s arson we need to vigorously condemn it…we need an outside investigation into this, we think that the ethnic relations commission should look urgently into this matter. This sounds like it came from the warped mind of the AFC, their desperation and vindictiveness” Jagdeo expressed.
Beekham, of Letter Kenny Village, Corentyne, was the first person to come forward with the allegations against the AFC. Following his outcry, several other persons also came forward with the said accusation.
In a sworn affidavit, Beekham, who is a registered elector on the Official List of Electors for Constituency Number 3 in the Whim/Bloomfield NDC said he and others were “deliberately deceived into signing a document by an Alliance For Change representative who he claimed fraudulently represented that she was employed by GECOM and that he needed to sign a document to confirm that his name was on the voter’s list.”
According to him, at no time whatsoever was he or the other residents informed, or did they know that they were in fact signing a list of backers in support of the AFC candidate(s).
Beekham said on becoming aware of what was perpetuated against him and other electors, he immediately demanded that their names be withdrawn or deleted from the AFC lists.
This matter was later investigated and brought before Justice Navindra Singh at the High Court who dismissed it stating that insufficient evidence was presented to the Court to support the claims of Beekham and the others affected. (Kizzy Coleman)