Brigadier Prime Minister (ret’d) Mark Phillips on Tuesday night was adamant that the dark days that led to the senseless massacre of innocent lives in Lusignan, East Coast Demerara, should not be repeated.
He, along with several Government Ministers, joined residents of the deceased community and relatives at the 12th annual memorial service in memory of the victims who lost their lives during the massacre that occurred on January 26, 2008.
In a report by the Department of Public Information, it was reported that the Prime Minister, who sympathized with the community, said that the lives of those who were brutally murdered during the country’s needless killing will forever be a reminder someone of the evil that exists, and the need to counteract such.
“We are reminded of these dark times, not to dwell on them, but to be guided by the lessons learned as a nation and as a Government, that such a time should never happen again; that all our efforts and resources must be plugged to ensure that our citizens should never again live in the fear that was cast over that age, ”the Prime Minister was quoted as saying.
He recalled that 13 people, including three policemen, lost their lives during a similar massacre in Bartica, District Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) less than a month after the massacre in Lusignan.
“Even as we protect our citizens, our unity as a people must keep pace with those efforts. Conflict and interpersonal conflict must be put aside, so that we can focus our energies on healing… We must build this nation on the basis of these painful but firm lessons; lessons that will guide us on how not to repeat these mistakes. ”
On Saturday, January 26, 2008, gunmen attacked several homes in the Lusignan community of East Coast Demerara, killing 11 people – five children and six adults.
The victims were Clarence Thomas, 48; Vanessa Thomas, 12; Ron Thomas, 11; Mohandan Goordat, 32; Seegopaul Harilall, 10; Seegobin Harilall, four; Dhanwajie Ramsingh, 52; Seecharran Rooplall, 56; Raywattie Ramsingh, 11; Shazam Mohammed, 22, and Shaleem Baksh, 52.
The survivor of the Lusignan massacre, Howard Thomas, aged 32, died aged just 18 when the tragedy, his father and two siblings occurred during the suffering. He said he hid under his bed to avoid the killers, but was still shot twice in his right arm.
“All I can remember after I was shot is that you hear people screaming and other gunshots in the area, but I couldn’t identify anyone because I hid under the bed. I came out an hour later, when friends came into my home and rushed me to hospital, ”said Thomas.
Also present at the memorial were Legal Affairs Minister Mohabir Anil Nandlall, SC; Minister of Public Works, Bishop Juan Edghill, and Minister at the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development, Anand Persaud.