PNC/R blames Buxton violence on Police raid
- Police deny claim

Guyana Chronicle
May 4, 2001

THE main Opposition People's National Congress Reform (PNC/R) yesterday said it was concerned at the unrest which erupted in the Buxton area on the East Coast Demerara Wednesday afternoon.

In a press release, it said reports "indicate that these events were preceded by a police raid in the village in which they arrested a number of persons at random, including persons returning from work or waiting for transportation at the bus stop."

"It is unfortunate that this provocative police action occurred while tensions on the East Coast appear to be subsiding," the PNC/R said.

But Police last night strongly denied there was any raid in Buxton before the fresh violence flared.

A Police spokesman said checks showed there was no Police raid in the area that day but wondered how any raid could have triggered such violence on innocent people, including passengers in mini-buses travelling on the main road.

Several persons were burnt, beaten and robbed, vehicles damaged and gunmen opened fire on a Police patrol trying to clear blocks placed on the road by gangs after the unrest escalated.

The PNC/R claimed "it is well-known that among the reasons for hostility between the residents and the police, has been the continual police harassment."

It said the police have frequently swooped down on villages, assaulting and arresting young people at random.

"Very often these young people are released without charges being brought against them, after being detained for several days at police stations, while in other cases, the police would bring a number of trumped up charges against these young people", the party said.

It said the residents of the communities deeply resent this practice of harassment and criminalising of young people which result in the career prospects of these young people being blighted.

"It is clear that the police do not seem to realise how volatile the current political situation is, and that any provocation on their part would probably generate serious reaction from those communities", the PNC/R argued.

It said that in its agenda for negotiations with President Bharrat Jagdeo, it had demanded "an immediate enquiry into police brutality, extra judicial killings and systematic police harassment of selective communities with a view to preventing their occurrences."

"The frustrations that are being unleashed are a direct consequence of the feeling of injustice engendered in the minds of residents and highlight the need for the urgent scrutiny of police tactics and behaviour."

The PNC/R said it "has always condemned acts of violence."

"This is particularly so when innocent people are harmed.

"In the circumstances, the party rejects the insinuations by the (PPP/C) and their media mouthpieces apologists that such acts are condoned by the party", it said.

It claimed this was a "deliberate attempt to misinform and mislead the Guyanese public", adding that these people "probably have an agenda to jeopardise the talks between Mr Hoyte and President Jagdeo."

"If this is so, it is a very dangerous course of action to pursue", the PNC/R said.

The party said the government should mount an urgent commission of inquiry into the leadership, organisation and the effectiveness of the Police Force.