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US group criticizes Guyana government for failing to investigate alleged extrajudicial killings

By CMC

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Rickford Burke

(CMC) – The New York-based Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID) has strongly criticized Guyana’s APNU+AFC coalition government for failing to investigate what the group alleged were “hundreds of extrajudicial killings and political assassinations, which took place in Guyana between 2001 and 2015.”

In a statement on Wednesday, the organization issued a call to the regional grouping, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) the United Nations and United States lawmakers to “intervene to ensure that a mechanism is established to investigate this dark period of Guyana’s history.”

CGID claims that the alleged killings occurred under the coalition government’s predecessor People’s Progressive Party (PPP) regime, led by then President Bharrat Jagdeo. Jagdeo is currently Guyana’s opposition leader.

“It is alleged that during Jagdeo’s regime, over 400 mainly Afro-Guyanese men were systematically shot and killed by an alleged PPP-affiliated gang known as the “Phantom death squad”, CGID said in a statement.

“The Phantom’ was a murder for hire gang.”

CGID said that these alleged killings constitute “genocide” under international law, stating that “no one was ever held accountable.”

The group said the APNU+AFC coalition – led by retired Guyana Defense Force Brigadier David Granger, which won the 2015 general elections – “made the extrajudicial killings a central part of its general election campaign platform, and had promised an investigation and justice.

“Although Granger has been president for three years, an investigation has not materialized,” CGID said.

In a letter to CARICOM current chairman, Prime Minister Andrew Holness of Jamaica, and other regional leaders, CGID president Guyanese Rickford Burke fiercely criticized what it characterized as “the Granger administration’s inaction.”

The letter was also dispatched to UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, United States Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, and members of the United States Congressional Black Caucasus.

CGID disclosed that letters to Guyanese government officials and numerous public pleas for an investigation “went completely unanswered.”

The institute accused the incumbent Guyana government of “governing with intransigence and audacious arrogance, as well as abandoning its campaign promises and electoral mandate.”

Burke claimed that the “Phantom” gang was allegedly headed by US convicted drug kingpin, Roger Khan.

He noted that Khan was arrested in 2006 by US federal agents in Paramaribo, Suriname and brought to the US, where he was prosecuted in a New York federal court for exporting and distributing narcotics in the US.

Khan was convicted in 2009 and is currently serving the tail-end of a 14-year sentence in a Florida federal prison, Burke said.

“In unequivocal terms, there is conclusive evidence implicating or connecting at least five former PPP government officials to the ‘Phantom death squad,’ which murdered hundreds of Guyanese citizens,” said the CGID letter to CARICOM leaders.

Burke further said: “The lives of these Guyanese citizens matter.

“We will wage a relentlessly fight for justice,” he said. “We will not rest until there is justice.

“If needs be, CGID is prepared to take this fight all the way to the 2020 general election,” Burke warned.

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