2015 Election Day violence
as they await compensation from Govt
Today marks one year since that violent eruption in C Field, Sophia, Greater Georgetown, which left millions in property destroyed and items stolen; however, as time has moved on so have the victims of that incident who have struggled to get their lives back on track.
On the evening of May 11, 2015, after the close of polls in historic General and Regional Elections, residents of C Field erupted transforming the community into a virtual warzone over allegations of electoral impropriety by a
In the ensuing showdown, five cars, one minibus and a house, along with two horse stables, were completely destroyed by fire. The animals escaped unhurt. The violence targeted People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) member Narine Kooblall but quickly escalated to his immediate neighbour on the left, who suffered the most in losses.
Speaking with Guyana Times, Farida Prashad recalled how the events unfolded on that fateful night that caused her and her family to lose their peace of mind. The woman said she was at home when persons gathered in front of her house, accusing her of having stolen ballot boxes from the polling station.
“That is something I will never forget and I remember it like it happened yesterday; we are still traumatised over the situation and we still living in fear that something like that will happen again,” she noted, pointing out that the individual who started the riot was still a free man.
“You can’t just go up to somebody place and say ‘come see they have ballot box’; that cause so much destruction and then you would be a free man on this road, while we suffer millions of dollars in losses,” she noted.
According to Prashad, her two daughters who had separate apartments in the bottom flat of her house lost everything, as persons broke into their homes while the Police were right outside. In addition, they lost three motorcycles, her daughter’s shop was looted and two horse stables and a small wooden shack which belonged to her son were also burnt as protesters lobbed Molotov cocktails.
Prashad noted that her husband’s horse cart and canter truck was also burnt, leaving him jobless as well. She recounted as the crowd became unmanageable that night, they left with the Police, who told them not to secure the house as it would be under Police surveillance, but when they returned two days later, almost everything in the upper flat was missing and whatever was left, was destroyed.
She further noted that over a dozen birds that were given to the Police for safekeeping also went missing along with the safe that was in her room which contained several important documents.
“We came back and started to block up the house because all the windows them were broken…we had to live here for over two months with zinc sheets on the windows… and as we get help from private people we start repairing,” she related.
Prashad revealed that they received help from the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha as well as from the PPP/C, but the assistance they got from the Guyana Relief Council was what gave them that lift they needed to make the major repairs on the house.
In the same vein, the woman expressed her disappointment with the Government over its lack of interest in the victims.
“Nobody from the Government side check with us, they did ask we how we doing if we dead or alive… We didn’t even get compensation from them and all these things happen because of their (Govt) supporters,” she remarked, adding that she was disappointed that Government turned down the motion taken to the National Assembly by the PPP/C Opposition for compensation to be given to the victims of the Election Day violence.
Her next-door neighbour, Kooblall, who was at the centre of the incident, said while he too was disappointed about the fact that Government did not show any form of concern for them, he has since moved on and has made peace with what happened exactly one year ago.
Kooblall is a Pastor and has a church in his yard. On May 11 last year, his minibus was burnt and days later his home was broken into and looted and his nephew was badly beaten during the raid. The situation was so intense that he had to move out, along with his family, for a month, before returning home.
He noted that with the help of some A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) members, they were able to restrict the crowd that fateful night from entering the yard, but not from destroying his vehicle. However, the man noted that things are now back to normal for him and he has since restored his relationship with neighbours. “The main thing is that we have our lives, those things that were lost are material and now the focus for me is reconciliation in the community,” the man posited. He too voiced his disappointment about the rejection of the motion that was seeking compensation from Government. “I was really hoping that the Government would have stepped in and given us some form of compensation… reading what happened there in Parliament, we felt disappointed. They could have given us some form of compensation
or even a soft loan – just some form of help,” he stated.
Kooblall said he was hopeful that Government would change this position and offer some sort of compensation to him and his neighbour for the losses they suffered as a result of the events that unfolded exactly one year ago. For him, he said, even a duty-free concession would suffice so that he could buy another vehicle to replace the one destroyed by the fire.
In addition to Prasad’s and Kooblall’s vehicles, persons also burnt several vehicles belonging to Government Ministries that were being driven by staff members.
Dozens of persons suffered tremendously as a result of the many instances of violence that was perpetrated on Election Day 2015.
Guyanese were badly beaten and attacked by angry mobs, and families lost thousands of dollars as a direct result of the unrest that occurred in several communities.
At various polling stations across the country, other persons were victims of the brutal violence administered by residents who believed there was a threat to the integrity of the ballot boxes.
At the Turning Point Snackette in Tucville, Greater Georgetown, two persons were physically assaulted after being accused of attempting to steal ballot boxes.
In other areas, persons were hauled out of their vehicles and received several blows about their bodies for
merely making an appearance in villages that were predominately occupied by supporters of the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition.
Talk Show host Kwame McCoy was attacked so badly that he had to be hospitalised. McCoy was confronted by an angry mob as he was about to exit the polling station at St Sidwell Primary School at Hadfield Street and Vlissengen Road, Georgetown.