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West Coast Berbice protest/ destruction- COP says persons charged; Ali talks compensation

West Coast Berbice protest/ destruction- COP says persons charged; Ali talks compensation

A youngster on the protest line at Bath, West Coast Berbice in March 2020 (Guyana Chronicle photo)

The destruction of property, injury to civilians, police officers and the loss of life are just some hallmarks of unrest and protest actions that started on the West Coast Berbice in March and September 2020 respectively that saw a ripple effect in Regions 5, 6 and 4. Notwithstanding, justice seems far from being delivered to those who suffered during combined weeks of events.

To date, there is no clear indication of who were the persons arrested and for what specific offenses in relation to the incidents that escalated to the manner in which it escalated in 2020. Contacted Monday morning on the issue of charges, Commissioner of Police Nigel Hoppie said that charges were brought against some persons.

Days after Guyanese went to the poll in March 2021, supporters of the Peoples Progressive Party Civic took to the streets in several parts of the country including West Coast Berbice, Lower Corentyne and Lusignan after it became apparent at the time, that the PPP had won the 2020 Elections based on their statements of poll.

Back then, there was no official declaration of the results by the Guyana Elections Commission neither were there any sightings of the Statements of Poll for the A Partnership for National Unity+ Alliance For Change. The delay in releasing the declarations of results for Region 4 also directly contributed to the incidents in March.

The March protest actions lasted for a few days but not being police officers were chased in the streets and beaten, roads blocked and burnt, missiles hurled at private vehicles and the injury to students who were heading home from school.

In September of the same year, protest actions again erupted along the West Coast Berbice and this time, it was in response to the murders of Isiah and Joel Henry and later, Haresh Singh.

West Coast Berbice protest/ destruction- COP says persons charged; Ali talks compensation
A paddy truck on fire on the West Coast berbice in September during the protest in reaction to the henry Boys murder

Those protest actions quickly spread along most of Region five and also resulted in ripple effects in Corentyne and New Amsterdam as well as on the upper East Coast Demerara. Like the protest actions in March of 2020, the protest in September of 2020 saw the destruction of property, robbery and beating of civilians and impassable roads which were blocked by burning debris and angry protesters. Most of what took place in March and September were captured on video and in photographs that were shared on social media.

During both periods of protest, the police force appeared either incapable or unwilling to confront protestors in a manner that could have seen less destruction and damage to public and private property.

Two weeks ago President Irfaan Ali was asked about compensation for those who suffered losses as a result of the protest actions and unrest. The Head of State noted that the issue is being addressed.

“It is something that we are looking at and we are continuing to look at it. Compensation is a very loaded word because you know people lost two-three vehicles but we are definitively going to support them and that process has started” President Irfaan ali told the media