At Tuesday’s 105th remembrance ceremony for the Rose Hall (Canje) Martyrs, Kim Stephens, the Regional Executive Officer (REO) of Region Six suggested that severed sugar workers are “timid and afraid” of diversification.
Stephens told the severed workers and regional officials gathered at the site of the Martyrs’ monument, “We know that there is a lot of issues surrounding the sugar today, the downscaling of the estate, and to my mind persons are timid, they are afraid to step forward.” Stephens added, “We were told of diversification that we can have because of the fertile land, not to mention our human resources that we have, capable skilled human resources.”
Stephens further stated that …” history told us that our ancestors endured a lot of hardship,” adding that Guyanese have a lot to be thankful for. She believes the good life that Guyanese are having today was achieved because of “resilience, cooperation, putting aside differences.”
According to Stephens, the people of Canje and New Amsterdam should put their “energies together to ensure that we have that good life.” Stephens added that it is time for Guyanese to recognize unity and they must reflect on the country’s rich history.
“Each one of us can make a difference, each one of us can contribute to the better life of people in Guyana, and by extension the world at large, technology changes and so, also things can change,” the Region’s REO said.
Meanwhile, the programme saw protests from PPP/C regional officials, as well as, the wives of severed workers.
PPP/C Regional Supervisor, Zamal Hussain highlighted that while the martyrs were rightfully being recognized, thousands of sugar workers are suffering in the Canje area. He queried how can the persons who laid off thousands of sugar workers, come now to celebrate the martyrs who fought for betterment of all sugar workers.
“This activity here is based on martyrs, sugar workers who struggle to ensure the rights of the other sugar workers, but we are here to ensure the rights of these sugar workers who have been laid off is being treated with respect,” Hussain said.
Meanwhile, Hussain took the opportunity to point out that the Regional Democratic Council, two sittings ago, had passed a motion to have more transportation provided for the severed workers’ children, in order to ensure that they continue to attend school and gain an education, despite their parents’ financial situation. However, this is yet to be implemented by Stephens, the Region’s REO.
It was on 13th, March, 1913 when 15 sugar workers, 14 men and one woman had their lives ended abruptly, when they were shot by the colonial police at the Rose Hall Estate, East Canje, Berbice. These workers have since become known as the Rose Hall Martyrs.
Minister of Social Cohesion, George Norton who delivered the feature address at the remembrance event observed, “These men and a lone woman were heroes, they are our martyrs.”
“As Guyanese, we need to stand firmly to guard against injustices, not just those committed against ourselves and our families, but to our friends, to our neighbours, and to our country, as a whole,” he noted.
According to Norton, the events of that day were an appropriate display of unity, a unity that as Guyanese we must emulate, “… and when we work together we can influence in a positive way the changes.”
“As we look ahead to a future that is bright and rich, I want to challenge us all to work in unity for the betterment of this land of ours. Let the Rose Hall Martyrs, as we know them, be our inspiration in our future endeavours,” Norton stressed.