Police deny stripping leader of rice farmer protest

The Guyana Police Force (GPF) yesterday denied any wrongdoing in attempting to disperse a protest by rice farmers along the Essequibo Coast, including the stripping of Region Two councilor Naith Ram during a confrontation.

Police eventually resorted to using tear smoke to disperse the protestors and 19 persons, including Ram, were in custody up to yesterday. “The Guyana Police Force recognises the rights of citizens to peaceful protest, but when such protests degenerate into a set of unlawful activities that infringe on the rights of other citizens the police will, of necessity, have to take the appropriate action in order to maintain law and order,” it said in a statement yesterday on the altercation, which had its genesis in a protest organised by the Essequibo Paddy Farmers’ Association to press demands for better drainage and payment from millers. Minister of Agri-culture Dr. Leslie Ramsammy was last evening reported by the Government Information Agency (GINA) as saying that an amicable agreement on payment for paddy was reached between millers and farmers at two meetings during the past week. Ramsammy, who suggested that some of the farmers were motivated by political elements, urged them to continue dialogue, while expressing the hope that much of the debt would be reduced soon. He pointed out that in the past millers owed payment to farmers for more than a year, but through working with them, by the beginning of 2014 all payments for 2013 had been paid off, GINA added.

Though police said that some of the protestors attacked them and threw several ranks into a nearby trench, the Alliance for Change (AFC) yesterday condemned the police as well as the government over their handling of the protest. The Ministry of Home Affairs, meanwhile, lashed out at the opposition party, which it accused of manipulating the plight and grievance of rice farmers and pushing them to  …..To continue reading, login or subscribe now.

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