Our citizens must never again live in fear -PM at Lusignan Memorial

Prime Minister Hon. Brigadier (ret’d) Mark Phillips, last evening, was adamant that the dark days, which resulted in the senseless massacre of innocent lives in Lusignan, must never be repeated.

He, along with several Ministers of the Government, joined residents of the community and relatives of the deceased at the 12th annual memorial service in remembrance of the victims who lost their lives during the carnage which occurred on January 26, 2008.

The PM, who empathised with the community, said the lives of those brutally murdered during the period of wanton killing in the country will forever serve as a reminder of the evil that exists and the need to counteract such.  

“We are reminded of these dark times, not to dwell on them, but to be guided by the lessons learnt as a nation and as a Government, that such a time must never recur; that all our efforts and our resources must be plugged into ensuring that our citizens must never again live in the fear that had been cast over that era”.

The Prime Minister recalled that less than one month after the massacre at Lusignan, 13 persons, including three police officers, lost their lives during a similar massacre in Bartica, Cuyuni-Mazaruni (Region Seven).

“Even as we protect our citizens, our unity as a people must accompany those efforts. Strife and interpersonal confrontations must be set aside so that we can focus our energies on healing… We must build this nation on a foundation of these painful but sturdy lessons; lessons that will guide us on how not to repeat these mistakes”.

On Saturday, January 26, 2008, gunmen stormed through several homes in the community of Lusignan, East Coast Demerara, killing 11 persons – five children and six adults.

The victims were Clarence Thomas (48), Vanessa Thomas (12), Ron Thomas (11), Mohandan Goordat (32), Seegopaul Harilall (10), Seegobin Harilall (4), Dhanwajie Ramsingh (52), Seecharran Rooplall (56), Raywattie Ramsingh (11), Shazam Mohammed (22), and Shaleem Baksh (52).

Survivor of the Lusignan massacre, 32-year-old Howard Thomas, who was just 18 years old when the tragedy occurred, lost his father and two siblings during the ordeal. He said that he hid under his bed to avoid the killers, but was still shot twice in his right arm.

“All I could remember after I got shot is you were hearing people screaming and other gunshots in the area, but I couldn’t recognise anyone because I hid under the bed. I came out an hour after when friends came into my home and rushed me to the hospital.”

Also present at the event, were Minister of Legal Affairs, Honourable Mohabir Anil Nandlall, S.C; Minister of Public Works, Honourable Bishop Juan Edghill and Minister within the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development, Honourable Anand Persaud.

The Indian Action Committee (IAC) organised the evening of remembrance in collaboration with Panko Steel Fabrication.