Protests must not inconvenience the public says Home Affairs Minister

Minister of Home Affairs Hon. Robeson Benn is calling on those persons protesting on the West Coast of Berbice at Belladrum to do so peacefully.

Over the past 48 hours, the protest which initially began peacefully turned violent. The ongoing demonstration saw the burning of tires, debris, old vehicles, all blocking the roadway and inconveniencing thousands of people.

Minister Benn has described the protest action as very unfortunate and unnecessary. He also underscored that it is also unlawful.

The Home Affairs Minister said the police have been urging the Belladrum residents to desist from violent protests. Attempts were also made to clear the debris from the roads and bridges.

“I want to ask those involved in the protest to return to peaceful protest if they feel that protesting is necessary Do not block the public roads, do not inconvenience people, do not attack the police, do not create a situation where the police have to resort to teargas or the firing of pellets,” Minister Benn warned.

He further stated: “We do not want people injured; we do not want people inconvenienced. People have a right to protest but it must be done lawfully and it should not inconvenience the public.”

The Home Affairs Minister noted that the Guyana Police Force (GPF) has shown a lot of restraint in the face of the violent protest which indicates the Force can properly handle the situation.

In a statement issued yesterday, the GPF described the action of those protesting as unlawful.

“The Guyana Police Force categorically states that these protests are not only illegal, but they also represent a threat to public safety due to the riotous behaviour of those involved in the illegal protests. Such behaviour can only cause harm to the well-being of innocent citizens. Additionally, it constitutes a denial of the rights and freedoms of tens of thousands of citizens who need to use the public roadway in the exercise of their constitutional freedom of movement,” the statement read.

The protest erupted in response to the detention of Region Four Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo. However, the GPF maintains that “the detention of Mr. Mingo in custody is lawful as ruled upon by the High Court in an Application filed by Mr. Mingo’s Attorney Darren Wade for Habeas Corpus Ad Subjiciendum.”

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