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NY Institute Condemns Arrest Of Prominent Guyanese

CaribWorldNews, NEW YORK, NY, Thurs. July 16, 2009:  The New York- based Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy on Wednesday harshly condemned the July 15th arrest of three prominent Guyanese in Guyana.

Lincoln Lewis, General Secretary of the Caribbean Congress of Labor; Norris Witter, General Secretary of the Guyana Trades Union Congress as well as journalist and former political, Mark Benschop, were arrested Wednesday by Guyana Police.

The three were protesting against `human rights violations and atrocities` by the Guyana government and police, during a Police Awards Ceremony outside of the Guyana Police Headquarters.

They were subsequently arrested and taken into custody. They are being held at the `A` Division Police Headquarters, Brickdam Police Station, Georgetown, and have been denied access to their Attorneys. The Police Station was immediately besieged by supporters and well wishers, who commenced a massive impromptu vigil outside the compound. 

Guyana`s Police Commissioner, Henry Green, while addressing the ceremony, reportedly mocked the three and referred to them as `the three Musketeers,` and made special mention of CCL General Secretary, Lincoln Lewis.

CGID President, Rickford Burke blasted the arrests as `unprovoked, ethnic and political thuggery` by the Guyana government, which he labeled `A Gestapo ethnocracy and Narco-dictatorship.` 

Burke observed that `It is indeed a sad day for Guyana when a `crook,` whose United States visa was revoked for alleged involvement in the violation of US narcotics and racketeering laws, can use his constitutional office as a crutch to execute political directives, and mock and arrest citizens who exercise their constitutional right to protest against their government.`  
He warned that `The Bharrat Jagdeo government will continue to commit these unlawful acts of ethnic and political persecution until and unless the international community and the Guyanese people hold them to account.`

Burke contended that the arrest of the three was another example of the coercive machinery of the Guyanese state is being used to crush dissent and trample on the basic rights of the people. He stressed that this must not be condoned and called on all Guyanese to `Resist this precipitous slide towards a `Gestapo` state.`

The CGID President lashed out at Caricom Leaders whom he said `Sit back and witness abject racism, ethnic discrimination, extra-judicial killings, as well as gross constitutional and human rights violations in Guyana– all international crimes, and say nothing in the name of justice and human dignity.` He questioned whether Caricom Leaders` manifest indifferent for such suffering is rooted in `preconceptions about Guyanese.`  
Burke demanded the immediate release of the three, and called on the Guyana government and Police to respect `the civil liberties of citizens and the rule of law.`