History of political violence against Indians in Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad

The Indo-Caribbean Cultural Centre (ICC) hosted an online public meeting last Sunday night (6th September, 2020) on the topic “Political violence against Indians in Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad – past and recent: Strategies to achieve peace and unity.”

The speakers were Ravi Dev (Guyana), Angelique Ali Hussain Del Castillo (Suriname), Basdeo Panday (Trinidad) and Dr. Tara Singh (Guyana) as the discussant.

The following is a postscript of the meeting held:

Guyana has a long, bloody history of violence and murders. From back in 1964, the New York Times reported that 300 East Indians were beaten and driven from their homes by Africans in the Mackenzie mining district. And last, on January 12th 1998, 200 Indian-Guyanese were beaten and assaulted in the streets of Georgetown in full view of the police; yet no arrests were made.

These riots were triggered by the victory of the Indian-based People’s Progressive Party (PPP) party in the elections of December 1997.

In Suriname, former President Desi Bouterse was convicted of torturing and killing 15 political opponents in 1982. The victims of the “December murders” included Indians (Hindustanis) such as Baboeram, Shamber, Oemrawsingh, Rambocus and Sohansing. However, ethnic violence against Indians (Hindustanis) in Paramaribo and elsewhere is rare.

In Trinidad, Daurius Figueira has written a book on the political violence against the Indian-based Democratic Labour Party (DLP) party in the 1960s. When DLP politicians attempted to stage campaign meetings in either San Juan, Barataria, Laventille or Port of Spain, they were heckled, cursed and pelted with bottles and stones.

Figueira wrote that in both Guyana and Trinidad, a “racist British strategy” destroyed East Indian political ascendancy “and a placed a minority race in power through successive fraudulent elections.” Figueira’s book is entitled ‘The East Indian Problem in Trinidad and Tobago 1953-1962 & Terror and Race War in Guyana 1961-1964 (2009).’

(The above postscript has been provided by Dr. Kumar Mahabir, the moderator of the meeting.)


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About the Author

Dr. Kumar Mahabir
Dr. Kumar Mahabir, Assistant Professor University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) Chairman, Indo-Caribbean Cultural Centre Co. Ltd. (ICC) E-mail: [email protected]