Election Protests in Guyana Turn Deadly; Police Issues Warning

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, (CMC) – The Guyana Police Force (GPF) confirmed that an 18-year-old youth had been shot and killed, on the night of Thursday, March 5, after he reportedly attacked two police officers with a cutlass.

The police reported that Seedat Hansraj, of Cotton Tree village, on the West Coast of Berbice, had earlier participated in protests by opposition People’ Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) supporters, demanding that the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) issue the results of Monday’s election.

Both the PPP/C and the incumbent coalition — A Partnership for National unity plus the Alliance for Change (APNU) — have claimed victory in the election.

In a statement, the GPF said that, at around 7:40 pm (local time) on Friday, while officers were performing their duties at Cotton Tree Public Road, they came under attack by the protesters.

The GPF said moments before the attack, police had cleared the roadway of the protesters and debris, and were conducting traffic control, when they were attacked by a group of men, who were armed with cutlasses and pieces of wood and iron.

The statement said that the police discharged their weapons, into the air, to disperse “the very hostile and aggressive crowd”, and that three police officers were forced to seek refuge in a nearby yard.

The police added that it was at that stage, that the 18-year-old protester chopped two police officers with the cutlass.

It said that he was attempting to chop one of the police officers again, when he was shot. The teen was taken to the New Amsterdam Hospital, where he was pronounced, dead on arrival, and the two police officers were admitted with chop wounds.

The Guyana police said that while they respect the “inalienable rights of citizens, visitors and inhabitants” to engage in peaceful demonstration, they are also prepared to take “appropriate action against all offenders”.

The police warning followed yesterday’s fiery demonstrations in certain parts of the country.

“The Guyana Police Force (GPF) notes, with concern, events that occurred …in a number of Regional Police Divisions. The Force respects the inalienable rights of citizens, visitors and inhabitants of the State of Guyana to engage in peaceful demonstration on issues of concern to them.

“To this end, ranks of the GPF maintained their posture of restraint. Nevertheless, some persons decided to engage in unlawful acts, which resulted in injuries to six (6) police ranks and damage to properties, including infrastructure of the State,” the police said in a statement.

The GPF pointed out that “when protest activities degenerate into public disorder, infringing on the rights of other citizens and putting the protection of life and the safeguard of property at risk, the Guyana Police Force will, as a consequence, take appropriate and condign action against all offenders”.

The police also said they had detained one person, after he was seen, on a video circulating on social media, “brandishing a firearm”.

“The individual was arrested and the weapon lodged pending investigation,” the GPF said.

Meanwhile, the Public Security Ministry is warning against a fake Facebook page, which it said, is intended to mislead the public.

It disclosed that the page goes under the name, “The Guyana Police Force”, purporting to be the official Facebook page the Force.

“The page has recently released inaccurate information, regarding the Hon. Minister Khemraj Ramjattan,” the Public Security Ministry said, adding that “the information provided on the page, seeks to cause mischief and confusion. The public is being urged to be alert and ignore all content coming from that page”.

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