- Lincoln Lewis
- protest moves to Ministry of Home Affairs
“Anytime you express an alternative opinion to that of
Emperor Jagdeo and his team…they come after you with the law
even if it means transgressing the rights of people.”
This was the view expressed by secretary of the Caribbean
Congress of Labour (CCL), Lincoln Lewis, during a protest
outside the Ministry of Home Affairs compound on Brickdam
Lewis; General Secretary of the Guyana Trades Union Congress,
Norris Witter; and former treason accused Mark Benschop;
continued their three-man demonstration aimed at bringing
about greater awareness to what they called the violation of
the rights of citizens by the Bharat Jagdeo government.
Demonstrations were previously held at the opening of the
CARICOM Heads of Government Meeting, in front of the Office of
the Commissioner of Police and outside the compound of the
Ministry of Education.
And according to the trio who are calling themselves, The
People’s Movement, this is just the beginning.
“What they want to do is to silence this society. We have
taken the position that we will not be silenced. We are going
to move on with these issues,” Lewis told media
representatives who covered the protest yesterday.
Secretary of the Caribbean Congress of Labour tells this
police officer; “We are protesting peacefully”, while
co-demonstrators Mark Benschop and Norris Witter look on.
He pointed to the case against co-demonstrator Mark
Benschop and more recently Oliver Hinckson who according to
him were victims of trumped up charges.
His sentiments were echoed by former treason accused Benschop
who said that it is about time someone stood up for the rights
of the people whose rights are being violated by the state.
Benschop was pardoned by President Jagdeo after spending
almost five years in prison on a treason charge which many
felt was wrongfully imposed.
Upon issuing the pardon, the President had stated that he
hoped that Benschop had learnt his lesson.
“I never knew then that the President locked me up because
he wanted to teach me a lesson. If that is the case then so be
it, maybe I haven’t learnt my lesson,” Benschop said
“It appears, though, that after serving my five years in
jail, that the President and the PPP have not learnt their
lessons in terms of respecting people’s rights,” Benschop
According to Lewis, while the state is showing the inclination
to violate the rights of ordinary citizens, there appears to
be no move to deal with cases of the blatant violation of the
He pointed to the case involving the disappearance and killing
of scores of young men which has been attributed to a
‘phantom squad’ allegedly headed by confessed Guyanese
drug lord Roger Khan.
“Roger Khan has done so much and he never faced the court in
this country. And even today Commissioner Greene is saying
that there is no evidence to incriminate this man.
“He is waiting on the United States to provide that evidence
when he himself is the man who has to activate the process as
it relates to the internal security of this country,” Lewis
He said that the Ministry of Home Affairs was targeted
yesterday because it is the Ministry that is responsible for
the majority of violations against citizens’ rights.
Lewis said that it is about time that the Minister of Home
Affairs initiates a process so that the nation could get to
the bottom of the disappearances and killings that occurred
during the 2002-2006 period, for which former Minister, Ronald
Gajraj was initially implicated and subsequently cleared by a
Commission of Enquiry.
“It is time we get to the bottom of it and know who were the
people who made up that squad; who put the squad in place,”
He said that the trio is not bothered at the seeming non
response to their activity from the administration since their
real aim, initially, is to start a three-man process that will
hopefully yield results in the long run.
“We are not looking at what the government might say. We
recognise that this is a long haul. It is not something that
will conclude within a month. It’s to bring to the nation
that these are issues that are burning in the society and more
so to bring about awareness within the region and
internationally as to the shenanigans of this government,”
the CCL General Secretary said.
According to Benschop, it is the hope of the trio that the
“armchair politicians, those who are sitting in parliament
receiving money under false pretence can start joining us in
The group also took umbrage to statements made by Minister
Rohee with regards to the conditions of the various police
The Minister had stated that the lock-ups are not five star
hotels and warned that persons who transgress the law would be
subjected to the conditions of the facilities.
“Is he saying that the prisoners don’t have rights?
Prisoners are human beings and he may end up there so it is
best that he clean it up right now,” Lewis said.