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Objecting to May 26 being date of Guyana’s Independence celebration

January 14, 2020

first_imgDear Editor,The People’s Progressive Party (PPP), under its current leadership of Dr Bharrat Jagdeo as the Opposition Leader, should object to May 26 being the date of Guyana’s Independence celebration. For unknown reasons, the PPP has failed to articulate this during its recent administrations. In the past, however, the PPP, under the leadership of Dr Cheddi Jagan, had recorded in a timely manner its objection to the use of May 26 as the date for independence, in light of the atrocities that occurred in the Wismar-Christiansburg-Mackenzie area (i.e., today’s Linden) on or about May 26, 1964.Specifically, on November 19, 1965, the PPP welcomed Independence, but stated: “The Party fails to understand, however, the significance of the date, May 26, unless it is the wish of the British and British Guiana Governments to make it symbolic of their contempt for the Guyanese people, and a grim reminder of the unfortunate events of May 25/26, 1964 and their aim to keep the Guyanese people divided.”Arguably, most Guyanese do not know about what happened in the Wismar-Christiansburg-Mackenzie area on and about May 26, 1964. Thus one “celebrates” independence without questioning the historical significance of the May 26 date.Over the last 50 years, this information has been suppressed. Books are published, history classes taught, articles written, and speeches made while ignoring the atrocities that occurred; and, naturally, their resulting consequences still undermine institutions in Guyana, including the ideas of democracy and self-rule.While the extent of the complete damage is still unknown, the Guyanese people should know that on May 26, 1964, hundreds of Guianese East Indians, including children, found themselves fleeing with their trauma, hunger, and significant injuries on two steamers — M.V. Barima and the R.H. Carr — travelling 60 miles down the Demerara River from the Wismar-Christiansburg-Mackenzie area to Georgetown.Most of their possessions, including livestock and land, were looted or uncompensated for.On May 26, 1964, over 200 homes and businesses owned by Guianese East Indians were burned down or were still burning. On May 26, 1964, scores emerged out of the jungle, where they had hidden overnight, to flee on the steamers. On May 26, 1964, women were admitted to the Georgetown Public Hospital to undergo surgery, having been sexually violated. On May 26, 1964, bodies of persons murdered lay in the Mackenzie hospital morgue, still to be examined by a pathologist, et cetera.There is absolutely no logical or patriotic reason for this date to have been chosen. Today, there are persons who survived these atrocities and have every right to celebrate Guyana’s independence, but cannot do so for obvious reasons.It is time to stop living and celebrating a farce. The calendar has more than 300 days from which the political powers that be may choose a new date (to celebrate) independence; (one) that is not characterized by violence, disrespect, division, racism, murder, arson, and sabotage. It is time that the PPP, having publicly objected to the May 26 date, articulate this issue in the National Assembly.Sincerely,Rakesh Rampertablast_img

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