The eleven persons who were killed during the Lusignan massacre 11 years ago were on Saturday remembered as the Indian Action Committee coordinated the annual commemoration activity within the community.
In the very street where the horrific night unfolded, loved ones along with members of the community, religious leaders and representatives of both the Government and the Opposition shared their sincerest solicitude.
Behind a memorial arch which serves as a reminder, former Chairman of the Ethnic Relations Commission and People’s Progressive Party Member of Parliament, Juan Edghill explained that he is still aggrieved upon reminiscing on the lives that were lost.
He recalled that Guyanese from all walks of life would have rendered their solidarity and support towards the families of the victims. He also advocated for citizens to preserve that “oneness” among their fellow people as was seen during that period.
“I would like to remind all of Guyana that out of evil sometimes cometh good. The good of that coming together at that time must not be list but never again must our coming together be because of such a terrible act,” he posited.
Sentiments were also shared by former Education Minister, Priya Manickchand who provided a detailed description of the community hours after the unfortunate event when she would have visited.
She noted that while counselling was provided for relatives of the victims, some are yet to heal emotionally from their anguishes.
“What happened in Lusignan shook this entire country…In the weeks that followed, there was also that looking after for each other as God’s children. It was not the families only of the persons who had lost loved ones, it was the entire community,” Manickchand expressed.
Communities Minister, Ronald Bulkan was also invited to present his remarks as he stated, “Let us teach and inspire our children to embrace and respect each other. Let us, as all the holy books admonishes, that we seek to promote reconciliation and healing of past wounds. To the bereaved families, we do understand that the pain of losing your loved ones in such a tragic manner will always be with you.”
The Ethnic Relation Commission was represented by Commissioner Rajkumarie Singh who recognised the dawning of yet another anniversary which distances the incident from the present.
However, her advice to the affected families was, “You would have come a far way and many would have given you the support to remain sane and calm. As we gather to pray and express love and kind thoughts, it would certainly help those souls wherever they are.”
At the culmination of the solemn service, prayers and recitations echoed from the various holy books as religious leaders offered citations for the departed victims.
The massacre unfolded in the wee hours of that January 26, 2008, morning when five children and six adults lost their lives as gunmen invaded their street and carried out the heartless attack in less than one hour.
Arming themselves with weapons and high-profile guns, they murdered 48-year-old Clarence Thomas, 12-year-old Vanessa Thomas, 11-year-old Ron Thomas, 32-year-old Mohandan Goordat, 10-year-old Seegopaul Harilall, Seegobin Harilall, 52-year-old Dhanwajie Ramsingh, 56-year-old Seecharran Rooplall, 11-year-old Raywattie Ramsingh, 22-year-old Shazam Mohammed and 52-year-old Shaleem Baksh.
Those who were injured included 19-year-old Howard Thomas, 48-year-old Nadir Mohamed, and five-year-old Roberto Thomas.
Less than two weeks after the massacre, 10 of the victims’ bodies converged at the Lusignan tarmac where they were laid to rest the same day. Mohammed’s family had completed his rites prior due to religious commitments.
Days after, another massacre was executed in Bartica, Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) which saw the killing of several persons. The motive of the vicious attack is still unclear.