Speakers at a youth rally in Tucville last night said that Guyanese are unhappy with the state of the country and one of them urged voters to complete the task slain political activist Courtney Crum-Ewing had begun by voting the PPP/C out.
“In order for Guyana to grow, the PPP/C must go,” Chairman of the PNCR’s youth arm, the Guyana Youth and Student Movement (GYSM), Ryan Belgrave proclaimed, as the crowd of several hundred took up the chant. “We have to vote them out,” he said. “It is time for a new government.”
He was speaking a rally organised by the Youths for David Granger group.
In an address that was lapped up by an initially enthusiastic crowd, Belgrave likened the PPP to a careless driver who had taken a “well-oiled Guyana” and dented the vehicle and never paid the insurance premium. Now, he said, referring to the APNU+AFC’s alliance Presidential Candidate David Granger and the Prime Ministerial candidate Moses Nagamootoo, there are certified drivers who are licensed to drive.
Belgrave was the featured speaker and as vehicles passed the Tucville turning point lined with supporters, some of whom were clothed in the green of APNU, he railed at what he said were the sufferings of Guyanese under the PPP and said that the people are unhappy. In his lengthy speech, which stretched for almost two hours, Belgrave highlighted a number of issues which he said Guyanese are unhappy with.
These issues include the education system, security, infrastructure, and jobs, among others. “Who are the Guyanese who are receiving these level of happiness of which they speak?” he questioned, noting claims by the PPP that Guyanese are happy.
He said that the people of the area know of the struggles under the PPP/C and the ruling party’s talk of development is a farce but this would be fixed by the APNU+AFC alliance. He pointed out that most of the challenges facing the youth are not specific to one ethnic or religious group. “Guyana’s youths are suffering, Guyanese youths are calling out for change,” he said. “We need better, we demand better,” he asserted.
The youth leader lashed out at the state of security in the country, saying that the security sector criminalises young people, even as he highlighted instances where government officials are above the law. In this regard, he cited an explosive conversation that Attorney-General Anil Nandlall had with a newspaper reporter.
Belgrave also said that the Camp Street prison seems to have become “a tourist destination for young people” and many who could be punished in other ways, such as community service for simple offences, are instead sent to jail. He also excoriated the police response to reports of crime and added that apart from criminals, youths also have to fear the police.
The youth leader explained that in the case of the police’s shooting of a youth, the explanation was that the young man looked suspicious. He said that before leaving home now, he asks his brother: “Do I look suspicious to you?”
He also referred to other matters involving police and youths, including the lawmen burning the genitals of a then 14-year-old boy in the Leonora Police Station several years ago and the rape of another man using the baton which happened while the man was in police custody. He also mentioned the murders of then Minister of Agriculture Satyadeow Sawh, the Lindo Creek massacre, and the recent murder of activist Courtney Crum-Ewing, among others.
He also highlighted the state of health care and said that this is not good but the government is talking about a specialty hospital. According to the youth leader, when persons go to the public hospital, they are only given “general purpose tablets.” He expressed unhappiness with the state of the city, infrastructure, electricity, the inadequate salaries of teachers, among others. “We are unhappy about these things but we are going to fix it,” he declared.
At one point, referring to former President Bharrat Jagdeo’s vast wealth, he burst into song, singing “Tell me whe yu get the money from,” as the crowd responded and heckled.
Belgrave urged the people to go out to vote. “The day of change is coming and you will help us to achieve that change,” he said. “It is time for a good life for all Guyanese,” he said, while urging that the message must shake the walls of Freedom House – the PPP headquarters.
APNU parliamentarian James Bond also spoke briefly and urged persons to vote. “The election is not going to be won on Facebook,” he said.
Another GYSM leader Christopher Jones, who chaired the meeting said that they want to see young people at every level of government. He slammed government officials, including President Donald Ramotar, who had drawn a comparison between the draping of the flag of Guyana on the coffin of slain activist Courtney Crum-Ewing with that of the criminal Linden `Blackie’ London.
Jones said that before beginning his protest against Nandlall, the activist had visited the Brickdam Police Station to get guidance from the police and was advised to wear an armband with the words ‘peaceful picket’ on it. “He wanted not to breach the law, so he sought guidance from the police,” he said. Jones also stated that before he began picketing, Crum-Ewing wrote to Nandlall advising that he had two weeks to apologise or demit office, otherwise he would start picketing. Even as the now slain activist had followed the law, Jones said, he is now being criminalised by the government.
He paid tribute to the slain activist, saying that Crum-Ewing stood up for all while they were sitting down. In his name, they must complete his task and vote for change, Jones urged. A video tribute to Crum-Ewing was then played with the song “I am not afraid” as the soundtrack.
Crum-Ewing was “murdered for his voice,” Jones said, but thousands of Guyanese have already taken his place.