Family launches petition on findings

Walter Rodney CoI report

The widow and family members of slain historian and founder leader of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA),

Dr Walter Rodney
Dr Walter Rodney

Dr Walter Rodney have commenced a worldwide petition, calling on Government to make the findings of the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into his death public and the recommendation therein acted upon.

The widow is continuing to fight for justice for the death of her husband, who died in a bomb blast some 36 years ago. She, along with her children, friends and supporters, began circulating a petition throughout the Caribbean and around the world, calling for justice for the renowned scholar.

The petition is also calling for a change in the manner of death stated on Rodney’s death certificate, from “death by misadventure” to “murder”, for the change of his profession from “unemployed” to “Historian/Professor”, for the overturning of the conviction of his younger brother Donald Rodney, and to expunge any related criminal history.

The petition has also fired at Government, stating that its celebration of the life of former Prime Minster and People’s National Congress (PNC) Leader Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham during the celebration of Guyana’s 50th independence anniversary was a revisionist account of Guyana’s history. The findings of the CoI report have fingered the former Prime Minister as the mastermind behind Rodney’s death.

The statement said “enough is enough”, speaking to those who have continued to cover-up what it said are the

Dr Patricia Rodney
Dr Patricia Rodney

staggering facts and findings in the CoI Report.

Details coming out of the 18-month investigation – heard evidence from numerous witnesses – revealed that the Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham regime of the 1980s had been very forceful and had used its political power to injure smaller and defenceless political parties. Rodney, a world respected political and social activist, died in June 1980, after a communication device he was examining exploded in his lap.

It was the theory of those close to the founding Leader of the WPA that the man he had somewhat come to trust; a then Guyana Defence Force Sergeant and communications expert William Gregory Smith, had implanted the explosive in the device Rodney was expected to test.

The theory claimed too that the Government of the day, the People’s National Congress and its leader, Prime Minister Forbes Burnham, had used Smith to carry out the attack.

In the report, the three Commissioners – Barbados Queen’s Counsel Richard Cheltenham, Jamaican Queen’s Counsel Jacqueline Samuels-Brown and Trinidad-based Guyanese Senior Counsel SeenathJairam – concluded that given all the relevant facts, events and circumstances set out in the report, they could do nothing else but establish that William Gregory Smith was not acting alone but had the active and full support, participation and encouragement of, and/or was aided and abetted by the Guyana Police Force (GPF), the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) – both agencies of the State – and the political directorate including Prime Minister Forbes Burnham in the killing of Dr Rodney. The Working People’s Alliance on Monday issued another call to Government to allow the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) report to be laid in the National Assembly.

Executive member, Dr David Hinds, called on Government to fulfil its promise and have the report properly laid before Parliament and debated.

“I hope that such a debate avoids the political finger-pointing and instead focus on the big lessons, in particular the banishment of the use of the State and para-State institutions as a tool of violence against political opponents and the citizenry in general,” the political commentator stated.

He also urged Government, of which the WPA is part of, to honour Dr Rodney in the most non-partisan manner by re-naming the University of Guyana “the Walter Rodney University of Guyana”.