CGID says insurgency underway in Guyana, condemns slaughter of 12 at Bartica
NEW YORK: The Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID) today condemned the slaughter of twelve people in Bartica, Guyana last night. "The security infrastructure in Guyana has collapsed and there is a total breakdown of law and order. Criminal elements now operate with impunity, killing and maiming innocent civilians. The Guyanese society is in a state of fear and terror, and there has been no effective response from the government thus far. CGID therefore calls on the government of Guyana to "immediately seek assistance from the United States (US) Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and Scotland Yard in the United Kingdom (UK), to help solve this security quagmire," a CGID statement issued today, February 18, said.
This has been the second mass killing in Guyana in four weeks, inflicting a staggering collective death toll of twenty-three. Today the Institute ratcheted-up the ante against the Bharrat Jagdeo administration, accusing it of "Being in bed with drug barons, money launderers and death squad operators. Consequently, it has obdurately refused to seek outside assistance for fear of being exposed," CGID contended.
"The Institute wishes to express its shock and horror at the assault on the Bartica Police Station and the Bartica community last night, by unknown gunmen, killing at least twelve people, including an unconfirmed number of Police officers. Like the Lusignan killings, these acts are abhorrent and senseless. We condemn them in the strongest terms. They must be brought to an immediate end, their perpetrators brought to justice and tranquility restored to the streets of Guyana," the statement added.
Police sources report that a gang of gunmen dressed in military uniforms and armed with assault rifles, seized the Bartica Police station around 9:40 PM Sunday night. They confiscated ammunitions and weapons from the armory, killing both civilians and Police officers in the process. Bartica, a riverain, mining town in Guyana's largest county, Essequibo, is the gateway to Guyana mineral-rich hinterlands.
Commanding Officer of the E and F Police Division, Senior Superintendent Gavin Primo, has been quoted as saying that around 9:40 pm last night, gunmen stormed the Bartica Police Station on First Avenue, Bartica, and that by 10:45 pm when he was briefed on the situation, the gunmen had dispersed to Second and Third Avenues, shooting indiscriminately. It is believed that the assailants arrived and made their escape by river.
CGID President Rickford Burke, who was born in Bartica, Guyana, disclosed that he had spoken with several individuals in the Bartica community and that they were in fear and utter shock. "Like Lusignan, the citizens of Bartica are terrorized, fearful and in utter shock. The government and security forces are incapable of protecting the nation. Up to two hours after this rampage, reinforcement had not yet arrived at Bartica. This is an outrage," Burke said.
He noted that both the Police Commissioner and Army Chief of Staff had assured the nation, after the Lusigna killings four weeks ago, that the joint services were prepared for all contingencies. "We now know this to be false. I am therefore calling on Police Commissioner, Henry Green, and Chief of Staff, Gary Best, to explain why joint services personnel, and indeed enough Police officers, were not at the Bartica Police Station, a sub-divisional Police headquarters of the E&F Division, to put down this attack? Why wasn't the joint services "in-line" and dispersed throughout the country at this time period of national security of crises?" These are serious questions that they must answer," Burke added.
The CGID head disclosed that a former member of the opposition People's National Congress (PNC) youth arm was among the fatalities. "I have been advised that among the deceased is Edwin Gilkes, a former member of the GYSM who served with me in the movement. I extend my deepest sympathies to Barbara Gilkes and family, as well as to the relatives and friends of the Police officers and the others victims. We mourn their loss and will keep them in our prayers."
Burke observed that "It appears that the perpetrators of these attacks have their sights on institutions of the state and are intent on terrorizing the society. From a national security standpoint, such attacks carry the fingerprints of a political resistance or an insurgence. I have therefore concluded that a full-fledged insurgency is underway in Guyana."
"In my view, the security forces lack training and are ill-equipped to employ urgent, counter-insurgency measures to safeguard the public. The Army Chief of Staff speaks about waging "urban warfare." But he is a misfit, a bluffer. They cannot secure the country. Burke said. "The President and his Ministers drive around in SUVs with body-guards. They live in heavily guarded, reinforced fortresses, while the ordinary citizens suffer the brutality of criminals. Thus, in my judgment, overseas intervention from the US and UK is warranted to help stabilize the security situation."
Burke again criticized President Jagdeo for using "incendiary language" after the Lusignan killings. "President Jagdeo played the race card to appease Indians, the base of his People's Progressive Party (PPP). He used incendiary language to incite them into believing that African Guyanese criminals were deliberately targeting Indians. This was irresponsible and provocative bigotry of the worst kind, as there is no evidence to corroborate the President's misguided contention," he argued.
President Jagdeo had also suggested that the Lusignan killings were designed to be a distraction from his government's investigation into four firearms that were issued to the Ministry of National Development 30 years ago under the PNC government. But Burke blasted the investigation as a "fishing expedition" to cover-up the PPP's inability to secure and govern the country." He asked "At this time when the nation is under siege what is the government doing investigating the issuance of four firearms to a government Ministry thirty years ago?" They ought to get on with the people's business of governing the nation, he said.
He also posited that President Jagdeo's reckless utterances have drastically exacerbated racial animosities and tensions in the country, further eroded race relations and have unnecessarily and unfortunately aggravated political hostilities and instability."
Emphasizing that the majority of the victims of the Bartica massacre were African Guyanese Burke said that "The Bartica killings demonstrate that Jagdeo's previous comments were made out of ignorance and lacked substantive, investigative facts. "I hope that President Jagdeo goes back to the nation and tells them that he erred, that crime knows no race and that in an insurgency no one race will survive."
Burke further contended that President Jagdeo's irresponsible statements will not placate built-up anger against his government for countenancing criminal activities as well as its unwillingness or inability to protect the Guyanese people from criminals. "The Guyanese people are sick and tired of race baiting, blame politics and meaningless platitudes. President Jagdeo must tell the nation how he intends to achieve, at least, a minimal level of security and peace."
Aiming some cutting remarks at Jagdeo, Burke said "If the President cannot secure or govern the nation, then I call on him to resign. So too must Army Chief of Staff, Gary Best and Police Commissioner, Henry Green. They are guilty of the most reprehensible kind of misfeasance and malfeasance in public office."
Burke called on the government to demonstrate equality by providing financial assistance to cover funeral costs and to further compensate the survivors and relatives of dead victims, especially their children, of the Bartica disaster just like they did for the victims of Lusignan.
Burke also called on Jagdeo to abandon his partisan rhetoric and commence consultations with religious, political and civil society leaders to discuss a path to racial harmony and national unity against elements of the insurgency as well as against drug barons. He also called for political dialogue to end the oppression of African Guyanese communities, and contended that guns alone would not bring about a resolution to the situation in Guyana.