Georgetown, Guyana – (January 27, 2018) Minister of Social Cohesion, with the responsibility for Culture, Youth and Sport, Dr. George Norton, last evening, pledged the Government’s continued support to the survivors and surviving relatives of those who lost their lives when gunmen descended on the village in a bloody reign of terror killing 11 persons, including five children.
Speaking at an interfaith memorial service organised by the Indian Action Committee (IAC) to commemorate the 10th anniversary of what is referred to as the Lusignan Massacre, Minister Norton said, “As the Minister responsible for Social Cohesion I just want to let you know that this Ministry stands with you and we are prepared to help you in any way we can and we want to let you know that all of Guyana stands with you.”
Dr. Norton also said that even though the heinous and cowardly act happened a decade ago, the terrible loss of life is still difficult to fathom. He said, however, said that he admires the strength of the victims’ relatives, who are coping with an indelible loss. “I want to commend you especially the relatives and the neighbourhood in general for the strength you have in exercising and forging ahead with your lives. I commend you for that. Overcoming pain is one thing but living on and coping with pain is another thing and that is what you continue to do,” the Minister said.
Addressing the survivors of the massacre directly, the Social Cohesion Minister said that the tragic event, though it should never have happened, has made them resilient and it has shown them that they can rise above any challenges and adverse conditions that may come their way. He, therefore, encouraged those present to take the opportunity to not only reflect on the lives lost, but to also have a renewed sense of hope in ensuring that their community becomes a model village of determination and strength for other villages in Guyana.
During his time in Lusignan, the Minister took the opportunity to meet and interact with relatives of the victims sharing words of comfort and discussed ways in which his Ministry can continue to support them. Several residents in turn expressed appreciation to the Ministry and the IAC for their continued support over the years. Mr. Nadir Mohamed, who lost his son Shazam Mohamed in the massacre, said he was pleased with the support and took the time to share a memory of his late son, who would have celebrated 33 years of life this year. Mr. Mohamed said the he and his family will continue to live with that memory of January 26, 2008 until the day they too pass away.
Meanwhile, Opposition Member of Parliament, Bishop Juan Edghill encouraged the community to be vigilant and to ensure that an act of this magnitude never happens again.
The service, which included Quranic recitations, the singing of bhajans and prayers from the three main religious groups, was also attended by IAC founding member, Mr. Neaz Subhan, who chaired the service and religious leaders, including Pastor Ronald McGarrell and Pastor Wendell Jeffery of the Inter Religious Organisation (IRO). It was held at Track A, Lusignan East Coast Demerara.
On January 26, 2008, gunmen stormed into Grass Field, Lusignan, opening gunfire on sleeping residents and raiding their homes. At the end of the 15-minute ordeal, Shazam Mohamed, Clarence Thomas, his son, Ron 11, and daughter, Vanessa 12; Mohandai Gourdat, 32, and her two children; Seegobin, four years old, and Seegopaul Harilall, 10; Shalem Baksh, 52; Rooplall Seecharan, 56, his daughter Raywattie Ramsingh, 11, and his wife, Dhanrajie, called 'Sister', 52 were all dead.