Why did the Ramotar administration rescind the decision to locate the 1823 Monument for the Martyrs at Independence Park?

Dear Editor,
We, members of the African Com-mune, wish to bring to the attention of President Ramotar our dissatisfaction with respect to the decision to relocate the Monument for the Martyrs of the 1823 Demerara Insurrection.

We wrote to the Minister of Culture on Friday, September 30, outlining our disagreement over the relocation, but to date we have not received a response from the Minister, hence the reason for writing now.

From a nationalistic viewpoint, The Independence Park (Parade Ground) represents a symbol of what should not happen in this country again. The authorities should never again be allowed to use the state’s organs to suppress the people. The condemned were hanged at the Parade Ground and ten of them had their severed heads placed on staves. Such a sacrifice paid by the enslaved Africans would warrant the declaration of that space as sacred by international norms, as we have seen in recent times with the Americans declaring Ground Zero (former location of the World Trade Centre) to be sacred ground. Hence it is difficult for us to comprehend why that site with such relevance to us as a people is being rejected in preference for another.

What is also unintelligible is that President Ramotar’s administration chose to rescind a decision which was made under the administration of former President Bharrat Jagdeo, supposedly after consultation with representative organisations.

On August 1, 2000 former President Jagdeo at the turning of the sod on the Parade Ground, a ceremony initiated by the then Minister of Culture Gail Texiera and Permanent Secretary Keith Booker, buried coins in the presence of other cabinet ministers and citizens pledging that he will erect a monument to the 1823 Martyrs on the Parade Ground.

This also flies in the face of the protocol within the United Nations Declaration of The International Year for Peoples of African Descent, since this decision to relocate was made in the absence of adequate representation from within the African collective.

We therefore call on President Ramotar to use his good offices to rescind that decision, and embrace the earlier decision to have the monument placed in Independence Park (Parade Ground).

Yours faithfully
Penda Guyan
Chairperson
The Ghana Day Committee of the Committee for the Promotion of the Decade of the People of African Descent

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