Address by President Dr Irfaan Ali:
It is again with a very heavy heart that as President, I have to address Guyanese on another barbaric incident. The criminals who snuffed the lives out of Joel and Isaiah were barbaric in nature. There is no other way to describe it. The criminals who snuffed the life out of Haresh Singh, seventeen years-old are equally barbaric. It is in the interest of all Guyanese, of all of Guyana that these criminals are brought to justice swiftly.
I had the unfortunate task of speaking to the grandmother and brother-in-law of Haresh, just as I spoke to the parents of Isaiah and Joel and the pain is immense, the pain, and the grief, is immense.
The criminals who are robbing people, the criminals who are beating people, the criminals who are chopping people, need to be brought to justice also. There is no other way to describe this. It is criminality, it has nothing to do with standing up for justice. Raping people’s children, robbing people, trampling upon other rights, beating people, damaging property of innocent people, has nothing to do with justice. It is selfish, destructive and a flagrant disregard for the rule of law and the rights of people.
I can understand the hurt along all the corridors in Region Five; the Prime Minister himself and a team from Government went and they had many difficulties to get to the families. I have spoken to many families who were beaten, robbed, traumatised, had their property destroyed. Today, farmers’ rice fields are burnt.
No leader can condone this. It is in this regard that I find the statement of Joseph Harmon unhelpful to the situation. For a matter of fact, it is his statement that would have ignited the situation on the ground. Calling this a struggle against a fraudulent Government and oppression tells you the extent to which Mr. Harmon is trying to misuse the circumstances that surround us as a nation.
The death of these three young men has nothing to do with oppression of any Government. This is not a struggle against a fraudulent Government. We respect the rights of every single Guyanese to peacefully demonstrate, to peacefully let their feelings and thoughts be heard, that is our fundamental right that this Government supports.
I am calling on Ethnic Relations Committee (ERC) to investigate the statement of Mr. Joseph Harmon, the statement that was inciteful and filled with hate. This is not the type of leadership our country needs at this time when we are trying to heal and bring communities together.
As President, it is painful to address fellow Guyanese on the death of young men, the brutal murder of young men, three young men now. The murders and barbaric individuals, not worth to be classified as humans, must be brought to justice in all three instances and will be brought to justice. And those who are causing chaos and havoc on the streets, criminals disguising in protest, robbing people, beating people, burning property, you are acting unlawfully and the police has assured me, the Joint Services have assured me that they are not going to tolerate this type of behaviour.
As Guyanese, this is the time for us to act in a responsible manner. This is the time for us to act in a mature manner; this is the time for us to bring Guyana together. Leaders must not misuse the circumstances. They must not use this as a tool to achieve selfish desires. They must not see this as an opportunity to whip up trouble in our country.
The irresponsibility from the statement from Joseph Harmon leaves much to be desired. I call upon all the leaders of this country. I call upon all the democratic institutions to condemn what is taking place, to condemn the actions of the criminals, the murderers and those who are creating havoc in the communities by beating, chopping robbing and raping people.
And not only to condemn, but to join me in calling for swift and decisive action against those who are bent on criminal behaviour. I want to assure the residents of Region Five that I will be there. I have been talking to families, to community leaders and have been monitoring the meetings and being briefed on a continuous basis from the Police, the Army Chief, on the situation on the ground. I totally understand the hurt. I assure you that I am spending all of my time not only monitoring, but pushing forward for solutions.
I will be in every community across this country to bring healing, to talk to residents, to work with you on your priorities, but I call on you all to be responsible, to be peaceful. Let the Police conduct their investigations, let the Police conduct their work, allow them to act professionally, allow them to get effectively and efficiently to the bottom of this all. I call upon all Guyanese to remain calm, to remain peaceful. I, once again, urge residents in Region Five to act in accordance with the law.
That you must act in accordance with the law. That you cannot continue to block the roadways, that you cannot allow persons to inflict harm on others and destroy their property. That has nothing to do with justice that has nothing to do with the lives of these three young men. That is another agenda that must be stopped and will be stopped. I urge all of us to take some time out and to put our country first; to allow for healing, to allow for unity, to allow the hurt and the families who are dealing with this grief and this hurt, and this pain, allow them to be respected in this difficult time. I ask all of us to keep our country, our citizens, the relatives of these young men and these young men also in our prayers and thoughts. Thank you.