Women and men from Guyanese diaspora and other countries launch an International Committee in Continuing Defence of Linden
On July 18, 2012, the entire community of Linden – including religious and business leaders as well as grassroots people, women, men and children – began a peaceful protest after the government announced an 800% increase in electricity prices, without consultation and with total disregard for its impact on the survival of an already impoverished population suffering from massive unemployment.
The government, through its security forces, responded to this legitimate and necessary protest with a brutal assault which killed three people and wounded twenty others. A month later, Lindeners were still being shot – on August 14th a man was shot in the face by members of the Joint Services. We cannot allow the shooting of unarmed demonstrators, to take place without our condemnation.
The struggle in Linden has repercussions far beyond its borders and is not the crisis of Lindeners only. Many millions of grassroots people in the region and around the world are being similarly impoverished to the point where their very survival is threatened, through increases in the price of utilities and food, the theft of land, homelessness and the denial of basic services such as health care. It would be a licence to kill if resistance to such repression anywhere is not supported by all those, everywhere, who are concerned with the right to life and other human rights. The government is using race divides in Guyana to hide that there is a class struggle in Linden. They are hiding that in the end, all grassroots people whatever their race will lose if the government wins against Lindeners. Who will be able to stop any Guyana government from increasing the cost of survival at any time against any community, if an 800% hike can be imposed in Linden? We are all Lindeners. The recent killing of miners in South Africa is a reminder, if we needed one.
The people of Linden, starting with women who have been present in large numbers at every protest since 17 July, have shown their determination to be heard. Their resistance, which took the form of a community general strike with road blocks, as we have often seen in other countries on the South American continent, has been an example to all who suffer impoverishment and organise resistance and survival.
Abuse and violence from the Joint Services have continued unchecked. They no doubt count on the lack of wider public knowledge of their actions, in Guyana generally and beyond, to provoke the people of Linden, frustrated at the lies being told about them and the denial of justice. Before the shooting on August 14th, people were repeatedly tear gassed – even mothers and infants in their own homes were not spared. These renewed assaults made the community even more determined to resist, aware that the situation is fraught with danger for all its residents.
As concerned people who live beyond Guyana’s borders, we have an obligation to prevent the isolation of the people of Linden and alert the world to their struggle so lives and livelihoods can be protected. This obligation does not depend on the state of negotiations between the government and those speaking on behalf of the people of Linden. We will monitor the implementation of any agreements reached. We will continue to urge an end to the violence and occupation by the security forces, justice for the families of the three murdered victims and all those who were injured, and the abolition of the electricity hike that triggered the protests.
Above all, we will continue to urge that the world listen to and support the people of Linden.
1. Dr. Sara Abraham, India/Canada, lawyer
2. Dr. Peggy Antrobus, Grenada/Barbados, feminist educator
3. Syadazem Azeem, Pakistan/Canada, lawyer
4. Moses Bhagwan, Guyana/US, lawyer
5. Dr. Horace Campbell, Jamaica/US, educator
6. Dr. Dennis Canterbury, Guyana/US, educator
7. Prof. Jan Carew, US, author/educator
8. Luke Daniels, President, Caribbean Labour Solidarity
9. Lord Anthony Gifford QC
10. Dr. Adeola James, Guyana/US/Nigeria, educator
11. Selma James, US/ London, Co-ordinator, Global Women’s Strike
12. Mushtaq Ahmed Khan, Guyana/US, banker
13. Marc Matthews, Guyana/London, cultural worker
14. Eusi Kwayana, Guyana/US, activist
15. Tchaiko Kwayana, US, liberation educator
16. Michael Parris, Guyana/Canada, educator
17. Dr. Patricia Rodney, Guyana/US, educator
18 Sylvia Sallay (Tlinget Nation)
For more information, contact Dr. Nigel Westmaas (Secretary): toussaint2001us@ yahoo.com