President of Guyana, Dr Irfaan Ali is calling on the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) to “investigate” statements made by Opposition Leader, Joseph Harmon during his meeting with residents at Number Three Village, West Coast Berbice following the killing of Joel and Isaiah Henry.
Harmon and the former Head of State, David Granger visited the family of the Henry cousins earlier this week. Both leaders told villagers that they should form a “self-defense” society. They said, too, that the villagers should protect themselves if the government cannot.
They lauded the protesters for their demonstrations, saying that it was the correct response to the gruesome killing of the teens.
Protest actions have since intensified on the West Coast of Berbice with commuters being attacked, vehicles being burnt, robberies and the recent killing of a 17-year-old man, who is said to be a relative of the prime suspect in the Henry boys’ murder probe.
Home Affairs Minister, Robeson Benn in a recent statement, blamed both opposition members for escalating violence in the communities.
President Ali, in his address to the nation moments ago said: “No leader can condone this. It is in this regard that I find the statement of Joseph Harmon unhelpful to the situation. For a matter of fact, it is his statement that would have ignited the situation on the ground. Calling this a struggle against a fraudulent Government and oppression tells you the extent to which Mr. Harmon is trying to misuse the circumstances that surround us as a nation.”
He continued: “The death of these three young men has nothing to do with oppression of any Government. This is not a struggle against a fraudulent Government. We respect the rights of every single Guyanese to peacefully demonstrate, to peacefully let their feelings and thoughts be heard, that is our fundamental right that this Government support.”
President Ali then issued a call for the ERC’s attention into the comments made by Harmon.
“[The] statement was inciteful and filled with hate. This is not the type of leadership our country needs at this time when we are trying to heal and bring communities together,” he said.
He also called on all democratic institutions to condemn what is taking place, to condemn the actions of the criminals, the murderers and those who are creating havoc in the communities.