Opposition MP alleges police brutality
Stabroek News
July 7, 2002

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PNC/R Member of Parliament, Cyrilda De Jesus, was allegedly beaten by the police when ranks descended on the group of workers and residents from the bauxite communities on Wednesday evening on Main Street.

De Jesus' neck is now fitted with a brace and her right knee is heavily bandaged.

Contacted yesterday, police public relations consultant, Royston King, said that as far as he was aware the force had no report of any beating that evening.

The National Congress of Women (NCW) issued a press release on Friday condemning the alleged beating of women on Wednesday evening.

Recounting what occurred to Stabroek News, De Jesus said she arrived on Main Street at around 6:15 pm and began to distribute food she had prepared. She said shortly afterwards police ranks approached the group from Lamaha Street and began to shoot in their direction.

"Some of the women started to run but I didn't run. I stood up and one of them ... came up and start to kick me up," she recounted. "He kick me up in my back and all in my side and neck."

De Jesus said she attempted to get out of the way but the place was in disarray, which made it difficult to move around.

Pots, dishes, chairs and tables were strewn all over the place. She said the police threw away the coffee and damaged a television set.

It was fellow Member of Parliament, Volda Lawrence, who assisted De Jesus and took her away.

De Jesus went to the hospital and was treated for injuries to her knee, ribs, neck and back.

"What I'm saying is that you can't have rights in your own country. I mean, it's our country and we were there fighting for our rights and why can't we do it in peace, because we are a free people and should be able to do what is right," an emotional De Jesus said with tears streaming down her cheeks.

She said the police broke down the tent and took it away together with a generator. "It was terrible. We did nothing wrong. Why must they shoot at us? They should go and look for the criminals and behave that way."

The group of persons took up camp outside Prime Minister Sam Hinds' residence, two months ago. They were protesting against the way government treated with the bauxite industry.

Police Commissioner Floyd McDonald had told reporters that over 200 persons were gathered at the site on Wednesday and threatened persons staying at a hotel.

He said ranks went there and removed the persons, but a few remained and continued their threats, one of which was to burn down the hotel. McDonald said at that stage the ranks moved in, dismantled the tent and all the equipment were seized and lodged at the police station.

NCW said: "We condemn this attack even as we condemn the beating and robbing of innocent citizens as well as the wanton destruction of property by fire-all are victims."

The organisation stated that it was looking forward to hearing from McDonald on the actions of the police of Wednesday evening, "when they set upon unarmed, unsuspecting women, brutalising them while destroying property wantonly."