Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Grenada
Report on certain political events
which occurred in Grenada 1976-1991

VOLUME ONE

PART 6

Section 1:

TESTIMONY AND EVIDENCE OF WITNESSES

WITNESS SIX

WITNESS SIX stated his name and said,

I was born in the parish of St. John's. I was brought up in the parish of St. George's.

The witness continued.

A couple months before, the Revolution or coup of 1979, it seems to me that there was a political indifference based on class . . . The Rastas were not plotters in the Revolution, but were victims of all the Governments, especially the Eric Gairy Government. Because of Rastas tradition of smoking herb and exalting African traditions and customs, they were persecuted for that . . . The night before the Revolution, there was a great rally at River Road in front of L.A. Purcell's place
. . . It was in the air even before the speeches that something was going to happen.

The P.R.G. called upon the Rastas to support the. P.R.G.'s, effort, and to take up arms with them. It was a promise that Rastas will no longer be persecuted and that ganja will be legalized. It was made on radio on March 13th, 1979 for the whole world to hear.

The Revolution had very little support, but then there was a lot of propaganda on radio, and then the Revolution started getting its support from the grassroots people, the Rastas, and even non-Rastas. When the overthrow was accomplished, the Rastas helped remove police from the barracks, and other people in the community got involved. Then when the Government was being formed, the House of the Nyabinghis realized that they were being cheated, because they formed a Government and no Rastas were involved, and they even formed it behind the Rastafarian back who was the main fighting force behind the revolution. When the Rastas started inquiring about this, then we realized the P.R.G. had tricked the people.

" . . . Many Rastas were forced out of the P.R.A. because the P.R.G. had now established the class structure in the Revolution, and they had formed an alliance with their Communist friends . . . Then the enemies of the Revolution became the Rastas . . . Within five months of the Revolution, the Rastas were the enemies. A decree went out; made by Mr. (xxx) in one of their public sessions at People's Parliament . . . A call was made to eliminate the Rastas. It was in the minutes book, (xxx) said to detain 2000 Rastas.

. . . A concentration camp was established in Hope Vale . . . A Rasta man died in the concentration camp and no one remembered him. They called it Hope Vale, but Rastas called it Hope Fail. It was worse than the Nazi camp. Rastas were forced to work under gunpoint. They were so thin. Hot cocoa was poured down their throat, their locks were cutoff, and many died. The wounds are still there and many became mentally sick and frustrated. No genuine compensation was given. Some can still hear the guns and feel the torture of the P.R.G. and no assistance was given.

Q:  Commissioner:  Do you have any idea about the others?
A: Witness: Yes, but I could only testify about myself. I was shot on three occasions not because I was a thief, but because I was Rastafarian.

Q:  Commissioner:  Have you ever applied for compensation?
A: Witness: Yes. There was a Claims Commission here and they tricked people. The Claims Commission said that they were a commission to heal wounds, but they deceived people. Some never received anything. I received something small and I gave thanks. The country is so class conscious that the people who got the money were not those who felt the pain, only people of their class. The Rastas at Hope Vale went through a lot and it should be documented. The Rastas suffered dearly in that time, and no one really paid attention to them.

Q:  Commissioner:  How are the Rastas treated nowadays?
A: Witness: The Rastas are still persecuted. Their locks are cut off, they are sent in prison for one spliff . . . There is no difference of treatment of Rastas . . . Compensation has never been addressed. No one has ever addressed the feelings. Some of the people need medical assistance, and some have shrapnel in their bodies killing them day and night, but I also believe that these people up there should be freed. As long as these people are not free, then the chapter is not closed. But there are a lot of things to address too.

Q:  Commissioner:  What are some of the things you feel should be done in Grenada to heal some of the wounds that people are still suffering and remember, and who should be doing these things?
A: Witness: Since it was a political thing, I think they should release the people from Richmond Hill first. I feel that the people through this great persecution should be properly compensated and attended to medically.

[The witness continued]

I have permanent scars that I got from my own people who wanted to kill for what I did not know about . . . I think they should give the people a good compensation because some of the people lost what they had . . . The people who need medical treatment, special avenues should be opened for them, and I think that some of the families of the Americans who died should be visited. I think it was a great sacrifice for these people to come here. I never saw that as an invasion, but as a mercy assistance.

I received seven AK bullets from the P.R.G. The first time I got shot I was brought up to Richmond Hill Prison on October 14th, 1979 after the Rastas had a service at Victoria. I was kidnapped by the police . . . I was brought into all the institutions of the P.R.G. I was detained twice by the P.R.G. First, I was detained and brought to Richmond Hill Prison, it was the 13th.

[In regards compensation he received, this is what the witness said]

I went to a Claims Commission where I claimed $55,000.00 for loss of employment, and they only gave I $20,000.00 [from Claims Commission book $26,400]. My point is, the wounds I got from the bullets, one circumcised I. I have shrapnel in my body, and years I have been taking antibiotics. I suffered terribly. I can't go to the Government and I can't go to anybody. Most of these things were Cuban or Russian poisonous things. All my wounds I got were when I was a political prisoner. I got seven (7) AK bullets under my foot that mashed up my instep. I have a lot of shrapnel in my foot and it is really affecting me. Sometime I can't even walk.

Q:  Commissioner:  Do you know the people who did all these things?
A: Witness: Yes. The guy who shot me was (xxx) sent by (xxx) to shoot me. (xxx) knew I was the leader of the Rastafarian people.

Q:  Commissioner:  When were you released?
A: Witness: When the Americans came. They are the ones that freed I.

Next: Part Six, Section One, Witness Seven      Back: Part Six, Section One, Witness Five

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