Bauxite workers at Linden remember December ll, l976
Stabroek News
December 15, 2001

Dear Editor,

December 11, 2001 will be remembered by bauxite workers of Linden, particularly the victims even though they may no longer be employed by the company as the date twenty five years ago when forty two of their number were arrested, taken to the Mackenzie Police Station and tear smoked in the narrow confinement of the cells.

This most barbaric and inhuman act took place during a strike by bauxite workers who were engaged in lawful and peaceful picketing exercise to protest a 6% increase in wages/salaries.

The arrest of the workers began on the Friday night with sixteen of the brothers and by Saturday a further twenty six were taken for their show of solidarity with those already in the lock ups.

The sounds of screams and the sight of smoke coming from the cells sent neighbours and curious passers by rushing to the scene anxious to know what was taking place. Inside the cells workers were reeling, gasping for air, crying, some vomited, some fainted as the effect of the tear smoke took its toll. As the horror of what was taking place became known to the crowd which had gathered outside the police compound, women screamed and cried, men cursed, others ran away as they were ordered by the police to clear the roadway or face arrest.

That was the second time that the repressive arm of the then ruling PNC had attacked peaceful and harmless bauxite workers at Linden struggling for a just course whose only weapons were their unity and solidarity and only crime their right to manage and control their union and its affairs.

As the horror news spread beyond Linden messages of solidarity and concern for the well being of the victims were expressed by fraternal unions GAWU, NAACIE, CCWU and the UGSA. The Guyana Human Rights Association, the Catholic Standard and the Guyana Council of Churches condemned the action of the police and called for an investigation. Medical examinations of the workers were done at the St Joseph's Mercy Hospital although they were not allowed to issue medical certificates to the workers. The then opposition People's Progressive Party as well as the Working People's Alliance condemned the act as well.

How have the victims of December 11, 1976, the Workers as a whole their families and the Linden community responded to the horrors and brutality unleashed by the agents of the once ruling paramount party? Well there had not been a single call from any source for "slow fyah" or "more fyah". No damage or destruction by the victims or supporters; they have found ways and means to survive.

As this is being written to remind or inform others of an important page in the universal struggle of working people for freedom bread and justice, the PNC which has demonstrated its capacity to marginalise, create hunger and poverty, to terrorise and brutalise whether in or out of office, has not issued a single word of apology for the inhuman acts committed by its agents against bauxite workers, their families and the Linden community for the years 1971, 1976 and 1978.

It is our hope that such acts against peaceful and harmless working people will never again be repeated by agents of any administration in this dear land of Guyana.

Yours faithfully,

Desmond Moffett