By NAN Staff Writer
News Americas, BROOKLYN, NY, Fri. Sept. 11, 2020: As ethnic violence in Guyana made international headlines in the New York Times Thursday, the country’s first indigenous Deputy House Speaker has slammed former President David Granger of the A Partnership for National Unity, (APNU), for what he said is his role in politicizing the murders of two Afro-Guyanese youth, who were found dead Sunday in a coconut farm at Cotton Three Village on the West Coast of Berbice.
Lenox Shuman, who is also a Member of Parliament as the Leader of the Liberty and Justice Party (LJP), took to social media Thursday to claim that there are political forces who are desperately trying to capitalize on the brutal murders of , Isaiah Henry, 16, and Joel Henry, 17.
Speaking directly about Granger, Shuman said: “He is (now) showing himself out in public, while he was afraid of COVID-19 during the recount process. What I saw was them in Berbice, pretty much going through a campaign style engagement, whether they are egging people on to protest or whatever it was they were doing, they were definitely not acting responsibly towards you the tax payers.”
On Monday, Granger and the country’s main new Opposition Leader, Joseph Harmon, visited the families of the two teenagers who were killed. However, during their visit, they used the opportunity to cast blame on the new Peoples Progressive Party/Civic government for the tragedy and have since been involved in pushing a narrative that the incident was politically motivated. They also referred to the PPP as a fraudulent government and called for residents to reject them if they ventured into their communities to offer support.
“We have to establish some self-defense in our society to protect our children, protect our women, our young people,” Mr. Granger, a former Army Brigadier, told reporters after visiting the families of the first two victims. “Unless we protect ourselves, nobody is going to protect us.”
Hundreds of Blacks then took to the streets in the northeastern Berbice region where the murders took place, blocking roads, burning trucks and attacking many Guyanese passers-by and businesses, especially Indo-Guyanese. The violence escalated on Wednesday, when the police said 17-year-old Indo-Guyanese Haresh Singh, a grandson of one of the persons detained for questioning in the murders of the Henry teens, was killed while traveling to his farm near one of the protest sites. Another Indo-Guyanese man, Prettipaul Hargobin called “Roy,” was beaten to death at Bath Settlement after opening fire on protesters later that day, the police said.
Shuman, however, called on all citizens to conduct themselves in a lawful manner and continue to live in peace and harmony with their fellow neighbours and friends and urged them not allow themselves to be enraged by any politician, neighbor or any other person.
The Joint Services have since been deployed to the affected communities in West Coast Berbice and there has been a return to some level of normalcy but Guyana Pesident Irfaan Ali says he is mobilizing help from the Regional Security System (RSS) of the Caribbean and the UK government to bolster the investigative capacity of the police force as they probe the murders of three teenagers in the village of Cotton Tree as well as the “criminality which led to the disruption of lives along the Region Five corridor.”
“We will seek to use all available tools in not only solving these crimes but also in getting a comprehensive and holistic picture as to all the events surrounding what took place thereafter,” Ali said in an address to the Nation.
Yesterday, Guyana police released on bail, four of the seven suspects who were taken into custody in relation to the murders of the Henry teens because their 72-hour detention period had expired. They are now required to report to the police station today as the investigations are ongoing.
Four persons were yesterday taken into custody as police continue to investigate the murder of Hargobin but no arrests have been so far made in the murder of Singh.
The Guyana Ministry of Home Affairs is urging persons to be extremely cautious in attempting to traverse the West Coast Berbice area even though members of the Joint Services are stationed at strategic points throughout the West Berbice corridor from Number Two Village to Mahaicony.