It has been revealed that $13 million of the proposed $102 million dollars to compensate survivors of the Coral Gardens incident, or their families, is now in a trust fund. However, there has been a delay in its disbursement.
The monetary proposal was made by Prime Minister Andrew Holness after apologising on behalf of the government in the House of Representatives in 2017 for the actions of the State at Coral Gardens in St. James in 1963.
“I think part of the short delay is that it was registered first as the Coral Gardens trust and the brothers and sisters have asked that Rastafari be included in that and that laws be put in place to that effect; the trust fund is an important part of what we are doing,” said Chang who explained the delay in disbursing the funds to the trust fund.
He also gave a commitment to ensure that the compensation package proposed by the government to the Rastafari community in Coral Gardens is delivered.
Dr Chang says an old age home will be acquired in Coral Gardens for the elderly.
Th Coral Gardens Massacre, called 'Bad Friday', began on Good Friday 1963 when Rudolph Franklyn and a contingent of rastafarian adherents, armed themselves to exact vengeance for a constitutional violation against their leader in Coral Gardens.
During holy week, a land dispute developed between persons said to be Rastafarians and a petrol station owner in Montego Bay. Newspaper reports say that Holy Thursday, April 11, 1963, a group of bearded persons armed with machetes and guns set fire to a gas station, seeking revenge for expulsion from lands said to belong to the owner of the gas station.
Rastafarians who experienced the horror of that Easter week attest to the fact their community was wrongly accused and consequently criminalized. Instead, they affirm 'men with beards' were the culprits and the Jamaican gov't used the opportunity to round up hundreds of Rastas in an attempt to suppress the influence of the movement.
The good had to suffer for the bad, as Rastas were hunted like wild animals in every crevice and corner of Jamaica, even in the most remote and desolate places.
“Bring in all Rastas, dead or alive,” were the words of Prime Minister Bustamante, the first prime minister of Jamaica. Commemorated as Bad Friday, law enforcement rounded up, beat, and arrested Rastafarians. Individuals’ dreadlocks were cut as acts of humiliation.
To survive, Rastas and even non-Rastas with beards and long hair had to get rid of them. Rastas were profiled, stopped and frisked, and subject to routine criminalization following the Coral Gardens tragedy.
Viewed as a threat to national security, the Rastafarian community was also under surveillance by the Jamaican government.
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