Georgetown, Guyana – (March 13, 2018) Minister of Social Cohesion, with the responsibility for Culture, Youth and Sport, Dr. George Norton, today, called on Guyanese to emulate the bravery and sacrifice made by the 15 slain Rose Hall Estate Sugar martyrs by standing up against all forms of injustice. The Minister made this call in his address at a memorial ceremony, which was held to mark the 105th anniversary of their deaths, at the Rose Hall Memorial Site, Canje, Berbice, East Berbice-Corentyne (Region Six).
Minister Norton said that while it is important to remember the courage of these sugar workers, who fought against the cruelty of British colonialism, it is similarly important to build on their legacy of sacrifice so that their loss would not have been in vain. “Not only must we be proud and recognise their contributions to the world we live in today, but we must emulate the bravery of these fallen heroes. As Guyanese, we need to stand firmly to guard against injustices, not just those committed against us and our families, but our friends, neighbours and our country as a whole,” he said.
Regional Executive Officer, Ms. Kim Williams-Stephen expressed similar sentiments. She said that as a nation, Guyanese have much to be grateful for and we can achieve even more if we persevere through challenges, put aside differences and co-operate. “Isn’t it time that we put our energies together to ensure that we have that good life? It is time, as Guyanese people, that we recognise the importance of unity… Each one of us can contribute to the better life of people in Guyana and, by extension, the world at large,” she said.
Meanwhile, in an invited comment, Dr. Fred Sukdeo, who is a descendant of, Nibur, one of the slain sugar workers, said that he was pleased to be included in the observances. “I think it’s important the whole country recognise this particular event because… it is the second major precipitation for the revolution for change in Guyana,” he said.
The ceremony opened with the recitation of prayers from students from the New Amsterdam Multilateral Secondary, the Berbice High and Canje Secondary schools. It also included two cultural items; a ballad, which was sung by representatives of the East Canje Humanitarian Organisation and spoken word item by Founder and President of Guyana Families Unite in Service and Education, Ms. Valini Indira Yacoob. At the close of the ceremony, Minister Norton joined representatives of the Guyana Sugar Corporation, the Department of Education and other officials in the laying of wreaths on the site of the monument.
Director of Culture, Ms. Tamika Boatswain, representatives from the health, education and public security sectors, along with students from the aforementioned schools as well as the Betsy Ground Primary and Rose Hall Estate Primary also attended the ceremony.
On March 13, 1913, the 15 martyrs were shot by colonial police after they protested against having to work on days that they had been granted leave. Fifty-six other sugar workers were injured.