Plans are in train to commemorate the 15 Rose Hall Martyrs at the national level, at the Monument site situated at Rose Hall, Canje. March 13 marks the 104th Anniversary.
On Friday, March 03, members of East Canje Humanitarian Association, along with the East Canje Development Association and the Regional Chairman David Armogan met with officials from the Ministry of Education to coordinate activities for the Rose Hall Martyrs Day activity which is planned for March 15th, 2017. Also in attendance at the coordinating meeting were representatives of National Trust and the Department of National Events.
The East Canje Humanitarian organizational head, Kawalpattie Dayaram (Brahash) said “while we normally host a regional event we are happy to join with all other stakeholders to honour our fallen 15 Martyrs.” She was emphatic that “it is important that we remember our history not only at the local but also at the national level because the struggle was an example of what our fore-parents fought for so that we can have a better life under better conditions for sugar workers and by extension Guyana,” she said.
During the meeting she was adamant in stating that “long live Rose Hall Sugar estate and we are throwing our full support behind this venture to ensure its success. We are happy that the Government has taken the initiative to consult with and include us as the founders of this event.”
Also present at that meeting were the Canje Development Association members headed by Mr. Mohammed Akeel who expressed elation at the move to remember the Martyrs at the national level.
The two groups have been the stalwarts that ensured that the Martyrs were remembered over the years, and are considered as the standard bearers for ensuring that the Martyrs are not forgotten.
A surviving relative of the Martyrs, Dr. Fred Sukdeo and his family, whose grandfather Nabur age 75 was among the casualties on that faithfull March 13, 1913 date.
The last memorial was held on March 25, 2015 and commenced with a road march by officials and invitees to the memorial site where a monument was unveiled in memory of the fallen sugar workers.
The monument was dedicated to honour the memory of the 15 indentured laboures of the Rose hall Estate who were killed by Police on March 13, 1913 and were buried in a mass grave for seeking a better life. These sugar workers who made the supreme sacrifice for demanding a better life were Motey Khan, Bholay, Sohan, Hulas, Badri, Jugai, Sadula, Sarjoo, Lalji, Durga, Gafur, Roopan, Juggoo and Nibur (all male) and Gobindei, the lone female.
In an effort to secure a better life on the sugar plantation, laborers on the Rose Hall estate protested the retraction of a four days holiday awarded to them for a good grinding season. They therefore refused an order from the Plantation Manager Mr. Smith, to p0lant cane on those days. This led to a formal complaint to the immigration officer. In exchange for the charges levied against them to be dropped, Mr. Smith demanded that they pay legal cost. The laborers offered to pay in installments but management refused and the case went to the Magistrate’s court on February, 7, 1913.
Hundreds of immigrant laborers filled the Reliance Magistrate’s court where the men were found guilty of instigating resistance to work. The workers protested the verdict and management threatened to transfer the protesting families to distant plantations. The threat caused the workers to raise the level of their protest. Warrants were issued for the leaders and on March 13, 1913 the police attempted to execute the warrants. The workers resisted and the police opened fire injuring 56 persons and killing 15 workers.
The monument where the wreath laying takes place was erected in 2014 and was conceptualized and designed by the National Trust.
The location is purported to be the grave site of the slain workers and features additional structures around the main monument to represent each of the 15 martyrs.
“This Memorial, like many others, is a reminder of our nation’s history and the struggles endured by our ancestors who struggled for our ultimate freedom. As such it is imperative that we ensure their continuity and preservation,” a National Trust of Guyana Official stated.
To this end, the Ministry of Education undertakes to promote and safeguard the nation’s heritage and patrimony, and urges the members of the community to take an active role in ensuring the long term survival of Guyana’s legacy by exercising care and respect at all times when visiting monuments and heritage sites such as this monument.
According to a statement from the Education Ministry, this year’s observation will feature presentations from President David Granger, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo and Regional Chairman Mr. David Armogan.