As vigil continues…
Red Thread calls for Parliament sitting on crime

Guyana Chronicle
April 30, 2003

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THE activist grouping Red Thread has called on the Government and People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) to address violent crime in Guyana.

The call, in a recent press release from its Lot 72 Princes and Adelaide Streets, Charlestown office, suggested that President Bharrat Jagdeo summon a special, single-issue sitting of the National Assembly urgently, to hear an official statement from Minister of Home Affairs, Mr Ronald Gajraj on the situation.

An appeal was also made, to PNCR, to set aside its boycott of Parliament, as an immediate step towards addressing “this national crisis, with special reference to the killing of Joshua Belle and, more generally, to the safety of Guyana’s children”.

As a 24-hour vigil, by Red Thread and other concerned citizens continued outside Office of the President on Vlissengen Road, also in Georgetown, the statement said the activity is part of Global Women’s Strike (GWS), a network which campaigns for governments to invest in caring not killing.

“We launched our vigil with the full support of women and men in the GWS in over 70 countries,” Red Thread said.

It stated that, with the upsurge of violence, the first child known to be killed was Mervyn Barran, of Enterprise, East Coast Demerara.

Between that and the murder of Joshua Belle, there have been incidents of attempted and actual kidnappings of other children and the most recent killing was of 17-year-old Su Zhi Wei, of Agricola, East Bank Demerara, on April 22, following the (March 1) slaying of Yohance Douglas, the release noted.

It said other children have been wounded and psychologically affected, perhaps for life, by witnessing assaults on and murders of their parents. Countless others, who have not been directly touched, live in fear, especially after the murdering of Belle.

”When one of our teenagers can be kidnapped in a busy area of the capital city, what mother will feel her child is safe, anywhere?” Red Thread asked.

It said the organisation was pushed to begin the vigil by the kidnapping, torture and murder of 16-year-old Belle and the “authorities’ do-nothingness in the face of this atrocity”.

“We, like the rest of the world, understand very well how power works in international relations. We saw that when a U.S. diplomat was kidnapped at about the same time as Joshua Belle, both Government and the main opposition party sprang into action.

“We are outraged at the contrast between how the authorities dealt with the kidnapping of the U.S. diplomat and the kidnapping of Joshua Belle,” Red Thread declared.

It pledged to continue working with other concerned Guyanese pursuing initiatives to restore public safety and, in particular, the safety of children.

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