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Irfaan accepts invitation to Belladrum, race/hate speech tops agenda
These composite photos show President Ali addressing residents of Belladrum/Paradise, WCB, on Friday morning
September 11 ,2020
Residents of Paradise/Belladrum, West Coast Berbice, this morning invited President Irfaan Ali into their community to discuss among other things, ethnic tension, sports development and farming in the area.
Ali, who visited the relatives of murdered teenagers Haresh Singh, Joel Henry and Isaiah Henry in Number Three Village, was on his way back to Georgetown when he ordered his convoy to turn back and head to the community of Paradise/Belladrum where residents wanted to meet with him.
The president, who was accompanied on his visit by Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force Godfrey Bess, met with the villagers at the Paradise Community Centre Ground, where the residents were very vocal about the ongoing racial tension in the country, the murders of the three teenagers, and statements emanating from a number of public officials which residents believe have contributed to destabilizing their communities for the past three days.
The President after providing a listening ear, told the residents that he was scheduled to attend an online meeting of Caricom Heads of Government to discuss the ongoing pandemic, but assured them that he will be returning to their community to have more in-depth conversations.
The residents told the president that they needed to get back into rice cultivation, needed enhancement to the Paradise Community Centre Ground in the form of bleachers and other amenities, a discussion on how to end the race-baiting and politics in Guyana, and what the government intends to do to people who are in the habit of inciting.
β€œThe comments were very disgusting, distasteful, and just create more tension in the community, and that is something that as the government; if you can deal with people on the use of certain words and certain comments in the media…I believe as president of the country, if you can put these people to face every legal justice that it will take to end racism in Guyana, we will become a stronger country,” a resident told the President.
Another Resident asked the President for Clairmont Mingo to no longer be the subject of a police investigation but the president told that resident that any movement in that direction would have to be a decision the police and the courts would have to be made as he is not in the business of interfering in the work of the police force and how they conduct their investigations and that he will also not like to go down as a president who influences the judiciary.
Ali reassured the villagers that the racist comments on social media is something all the communities he visited on Friday spoke to him about. He stressed that it is evident that all the communities have the same fear as it relates to the proliferation of racism by some persons, and noted that if every citizen has the same fear, then it should be easier for them to support the government in its fight to end racism, and find a solution to the problem. He reminded that all laws will be used to address those who are using social media to spread hate, racism, and to divide the country.
The visit from all indications did serve to appease the residents, who tried to get the president to commit to a date for his return, as they wanted to ensure that the rest of the community is able to come out and hear what his plans are for that community.
The president indicated that he will have his travel plan for a return to the community, communicated to them as soon as possible. There is also a group that has since been formed which will act as a go-between, in relation to the president’s office and the community.
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