Guyanese reportedly assaulted on BWIA flight By Abigail Butler
Guyana Chronicle
March 12, 2002

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THE Guyana Foreign Ministry is urging a Guyanese allegedly beaten by Barbados police on a BWIA aircraft bound for Guyana last Saturday night and any other person/s to report the incident to the ministry.

Contacted late yesterday, a top official said the ministry had not heard of the incident or from the victim and said unless it has substantial evidence it cannot take up the matter with Barbados, where many Guyanese have long claimed they were harassed by officials at the island's airport.

The Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) yesterday released what it said was an eyewitness account of the assault on the Guyanese man who was removed from BWIA flight 431 by force.

It said a boy, about eight to 10 years old, who was with the passenger, was also taken off the flight.

BWIA officials here could not be immediately contacted for comment on the reported incident.

According to the account, the man who boarded the aircraft through the back entrance, first complained loudly about having to sit close to the front of the plane and having to move such a long way with the boy through the packed plane, but later calmed down.

According to the witness, four heavy-set security men boarded the plane after the man had been seated for about five minutes. The security men reportedly said that they had been ordered by the captain to have him leave the aircraft.

Concerned passengers then reportedly explained the situation, saying that the man was simply annoyed by what he perceived was ill treatment by BWIA, but had since been quiet and should be allowed to stay on the plane with his child.

According to the account issued by the GHRA, as the security officers repeated the captain's decision, four Barbados policemen and a policewoman boarded the plane, telling the man to get off the plane. At this point, passengers verbally and loudly objected, as the man remain seated.

Further, a steward announced that all passengers should leave the plane. This request was greeted by loud protest from the passengers and no one moved, according to the account supplied to the GHRA.

It added that one of the policemen grabbed the seated man from behind with one arm and started punching him in the head with bare fists. Other policemen did the same, according to the report.

The man was then reportedly dragged into the aisle and with his hands over his head and face, he continued to suffer punches from the policemen. The screaming child was later taken off the plane, the witness told the association.

As the man and police escort reached the front of the plane the passenger was reportedly pushed into the front seat on the A-B side of the aisle, whereupon at least one of the police officers punched the man, who had fallen into the seat, the witness added.

The GHRA said that it was not known whether the man has been charged or has been allowed to return to Guyana.

The association said it has forwarded a copy of the eyewitness statement to BWIA requesting an apology to all who suffered and were forced to witness the incident.

It said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs here is also being provided with a copy with a request that the matter be taken up both with the airline and the Barbados authorities.