Their funeral service attracted a wide cross section of Guyanese political royalty ranging from President Irfaan Ali, and Opposition leader Joseph Harmon to former Chairman of Alliance for Change, AFC Nigel Hughes and Chairman of the International Decade for People of African Descent Assembly – Guyana (IDPADA-G) Vincent Alexander.
Addressing a farewell service for Isaiah and Joel Henry of West Coast Berbice, both Nigel Hughes and Vincent Alexander reiterated calls for Guyana’s race relations problem to be placed on the national agenda.
Hughes outlined, that at the heart of the issue, was that Guyanese were living “contradicted realities” of very fragile race and ethnic relations daily and especially during elections.
He recommended that efforts be made to reverse the horribly deformed society of Guyana and instead strive to achieve the objective of the national motto ‘One People, One Nation, One Destiny’ built on the cornerstones of equality, equal rights and justice.
“The time has come for our leaders to acknowledge that race and ethnicity are national problems and consequently place them on the national agenda. The time has come for our leaders to meet, sit and collectively address this national scourge,” said Hughes.
He has recommended that political leaders visit each other’s communities to understand problems of alienation and distrust as well as find creative ways to “teach our people that the celebration of your ethnicity and your ethnic identity does not mean the denigration of another ethnicity or racial identity.”
Chairman of the International Decade for People of African Descent, Vincent Alexander urged Guyanese to talk freely about the state of their relations with the aim of removing centuries-old inherent conflicts and different socio-economic conditions.
“It behoves us to come to term with our reality and to commit to reengineering the society least we continue down the road of degeneration and failure as humans and individuals. Our clarion call in the face of the snuffing out of two valuable lives has got to be the call for a national conversation on the state of our nation and a commitment to reengineering our society; nothing else at this time could be of more importance,” Alexander said.
Alexander concluded by saying “those at the helm of the ship must answer this call or be held culpable for the sorry state and implosion of Guyana.”
Speaking at a separate event, President Irfaan Ali highlighted the need for the deaths of the Henrys to be rewarded by long-term peace and unity.
“What we can pray for ultimately is for justice for these two young men, for peace and unity and to let their lives be a legacy for the future of Guyana,” he stated. “These events must never occur again… in the memory of these two young men, all of Guyana should recommit to love, peace unity and to serve in God, ” the Guyana President said.
The discovery of the bodies of the two Afro-Guyanese on a coconut estate in the backlands of Cotton Tree Village, West Coast Berbice last week Sunday, had sparked off four days of violent unrest on the public road of the Upper East Coast Demerara and West Coast Berbice.
There mainly Indo-Guyanese had been robbed, assaulted and badly beaten. It is not yet clear whether the killing of 17-year old Haresh Singh at Number Three Village was a revenge for the Henry cousins.
While seven persons have been arrested and subsequently released on station bail, no one has yet been charged and police have been tight-lipped about the status of their investigations.
In the wake of concerns that the Guyana Police Force would be unable to conduct a proper investigation, the Guyana government has announced that it would ask the United Kingdom and the Caribbean Regional Security System to assist with the investigations.
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