The Enmore Five remembered
June 17, 2004
‘The Enmore Martyrs deserve to be immortalised. Their deaths galvanised persons and organisations into heightened states of action for radical change in the political state of our country.’
--Labour Minister Dr Dale Bisnauth
GINA - A march from the Square of the Revolution early this morning marked the beginning of observances to commemorate the 56th anniversary of the Enmore Martyrs.
Among those on the march from the Square of the Revolution to Le Repentir Cemetery led by Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, who is performing the duties of President were Minister of Local Government and Regional Development Harripersaud Nokta; Deputy Head of the Presidential Secretariat Mr Hydar Ally; Members of Parliament Shirley Edwards and Indra Chandarpal, and relatives of the Enmore Martyrs.
Also in attendance were executive members of the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC), the Guyana Labour Union (GLU), the Clerical and Commercial Workers Union (CCWU), the Women's Progressive Organisation (WPO), the Progressive Youth Organisation (PYO), the Rice Producers Association (RPA) and the People's Progressive Party (PPP).
Enmore Martyrs' Day commemorates the struggle of five sugar workers, which struggle ended in their loss of life on June 16, 1948. Those who died were: Lallabagee, 35; Pooran, 20; Rambarran, 30; Surujballi, 34; and Harry 30. They were killed by colonial Police during a strike for more wages and against the ‘cut and load' system introduced by the British.
Nineteen workers formed the strike party, and five were killed when Police opened fire on them.
Today, at the gravesite of the five, Mr Carvil Duncan, President of the GTUC said their sacrifice was indicative of the contribution to the transformation of the working class. Duncan said that their contributions were necessary in light of the atrocities of their time.
He added that this was an eternal sacrifice, which should be emulated for the benefit of the working class.
Mr Ramnaresh Tiwiri, Organising Secretary of GAWU said this was no isolated incident, since sugar workers had begun losing their lives in the struggle for better working conditions years earlier. He said that, however, “this ended the spate of killings of protesting workers.”
Mrs. Janet Jagan, Former President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, said that during the four-and-a-half month strike action by sugar workers, she and other persons collected food and money to maintain a soup kitchen for strikers.
The Former First Lady opined that the deaths of the five martyrs sent a ‘thunderbolt through society invigorating the liberation struggle which followed”.
Presenting the feature addressed at the event was Dr Dale Bisnauth Minister of Labour, Human Services and Social Security, who declared: “The Enmore Martyrs deserve to be immortalised. Their deaths galvanised persons and organisations into heightened states of action for radical change in the political state of our country.”
Dr Bisnauth said Guyanese need to ask themselves how “their sacrifices can inform, influence and inspire us to effect in our time the change in labour relations, particularly those on the sugar plantation which they sought to effect in their time.
He added that if in 2004 continuity rather than change remains the reality of management/worker relationship, then the martyrdom of the Enmore five may well become an event in futility.
Wreaths were laid at the Martyrs grave by relatives and members of various union bodies across the country.
The Enmore Martyrs' Memorial site is located at Enmore on the East Coast of Demerara.
Other activities to commemorate the life and struggle of sugar workers, more specifically the five Enmore Martyrs, were conducted at the memorial site later in the day.