By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – On the conclusion of the second day of the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry (COI), a link between what was described as a violent House of Israel, an intimidatory police force and the then ruling People’s National Congress (PNC) has been crested.
Rodney’s older brother, 73 – year – old Lawrence Edward Rodney took the witness stand at the hearing on Tuesday, April 29 and vouched that the connection between the three groupings certainly existed while recounting several incidents during the 1978-1980 period to support his claims.
Rodney, who was affiliated with the political party founded by his brother – the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) – said the WPA struggles were in opposition to the PNC and was meet with antagonism by House of Israel members who he said were strong loyalist of the PNC and supported by the police.
His claims were supported by current Coordinator of the women’s group, Red Thread and then affiliate of the WPA Karen De Souza, who also testified of the PNC having an adversary relationship with the WPA which resulted in acts of violence marring WPA’s public meetings by House of Israel members and the ‘Death Squad’, which was clarified to be a part of the police force.
De Souza said she could recall that the ‘death squad’ members wore plain clothes, were particularly vicious and followed the instructions of the then government, adding that the House of Israel was a religious grouping who had a radio program, some of its members sold plantain chips and broke up WPA meetings.
In a more illustrious testimony, Rodney’s brother claimed that the police were used by the government in those days as an intimidating instrument to dismantle strike actions by the working people, which were supported by the WPA.
He recalled that these strikes were broken up by members of the House of Israel who were clad in a uniform with the same colors as the PNC – red, black and white. He summarized that the group was mostly involved in bullyism.
Rodney testified that former Guyana Defence Force Officer (GDF) Gregory Smith aka Cyril Johnson who was wanted for Rodney’s murder was a member of the House of Israel, adding that he had seen him on one occasion dressed in the uniform and his behaviour on previous occasions caused him to believe same.
He testified too that sitting People’s Progressive Party Civic Member of Parliament Joseph Hamilton was also member of the House of Israel which he summarized mainly mobilized black people.
Rodney’s brother testimony also touched on how the PNC controlled all state apparatus in those days, including the state media and all other political views were subdued.
His testimony will continued at a later date after being paused to allow De Sousa to testify since she will be out of the jurisdiction until July.
Dr. Walter Rodney, a Guyanese political activist and intellectual died on June 13, 1980 following an explosion in his car. 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.