Sat | Aug 19, 2017

Kevin O'Brien Chang | Terrorism in Jamaica

Published:Tuesday | October 18, 2016 | 10:00 AM
Kevin O'Brien Chang
A policeman secures the crime scene where the burnt bodies of five residents were found in a tenement yard in an area known as Africa on March Pen Road in Spanish Town, St Catherine, on October 9.
1
2

"Let us walk hand in hand and help break down the barriers in those zones of exclusion that create havens for criminality."

These inspiring words from the 2011 prime ministerial inauguration speech seem to have been forgotten by everyone, even the speaker.

The recent March Pen massacre reminded many of similar incidents that took place on Barnes Avenue in south St Andrew in 2005 and Lauriston in St Catherine in 2011.

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/ask-us-embassy/Massacre-at-Barnes-Av...

"OCTOBER 5, 2005, is not a date that Randall Brown will forget ... .

Residents remember the blood-curdling screams of his 10-year-old niece, Sasha Brown, as she called out to her neighbours for help as fire ravaged the house she was locked up in ... .

"The house was shot up and set on fire by masked gunmen. Gerald Brown, 60, his wife Dorcas, 50, and their daughter Janice, 25, were killed along with Sasha ... .

"According to police reports, the thugs threw Molotov cocktail bombs into the house and then stood guard with their automatic weapons at the ready, preventing anyone from going to the dying family's assistance."

http://m.jamaicaobserver.com/mobile/news/Two-women-beheaded_9264403

"Church minister Charmaine Rattray and her 19-year-old daughter were yesterday morning beheaded by gunmen who invaded their Lauriston home.

"The two were attacked just after dawn by the men armed with guns and machetes and who kicked open the door to their home as they slept. The women's heads were taken from the scene by the culprits who had inflicted numerous chop wounds to the victims' bodies.

"Residents listened and cowered helplessly as the women's horrified screams pierced the morning's silence."

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/

lead-stories/20161011/fiery-screams-kids-tied-shot-14-y-o-paralysed

"Sombre was the general mood yesterday at 7 March Pen Road... where five persons, including three children, were shot, killed and their homes torched early last Sunday morning.

"Two of the children killed, according to a family member who requested that his name not be used in this story, were murdered execution style. He told The Gleaner that the two children aged nine and 14 years were tied up by the hoodlums and then shot.

"'You hear like dem a kick off di gate. When dem kick off di gate, you hear explosion, [shots] firing non-stop and a bare people a scream ... . All in a mi mind, mi a try come to the screaming, but mi couldn't because it was a lot of them and dem a fire shot.'"

 

SOME LEVEL OF CONCERN

 

We have witnessed so many such acts of terrorism in this supposedly blessed land that we have become numb. No one even seems to care anymore when even children get murdered in these "zones of exclusion".

We have witnessed so many such acts of terrorism in this supposedly blessed land that we have become numb. No one even seems to care anymore when even children get murdered in these "zones of exclusion".

We can only judge our politicians by what they do and not what they say. In the aftermath of the Barnes Avenue inferno, Nationwide radio had a vigil. Not a single politician from either side turned up. Not then prime minister, P.J. Patterson. Not then Opposition Leader Bruce Golding. Not then Minister for Children Affairs Portia Simpson Miller. Not then area MP Omar Davies.

Reducing crime in Jamaica is going to be an obviously complex long-term undertaking. Showing you care about the victims of crime - particularly the children - is not.

When children are burned to death and heads chopped off, is it too much to expect our political leaders to demonstrate human decency and compassion?

This time around, media pressure has forced our elected heads to show some level of concern for the family of the victims. Both mumbled the usual "we must stop these dastardly criminal acts". And nearly a week after the March Pen slaughter, Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller actually showed up at the site of the murders. The prime minister has so far only promised that he will visit 'soon'.

Andrew Holness has repeatedly stood before the nation and proclaimed that "I am different". Well, actions speak louder than words. So far, his attitude towards the massacre of our children by bloodthirsty criminals is indistinguishable from that of his predecessors.

Basic steps, like pulling down zinc fences to facilitate effecting police patrols, could certainly reduce the frequency of these acts of terrorism.

But no one seems to care enough to start the process.

And so we sit and wonder what Jamaican place name we will hear of next where little children are deliberately burnt to death and teenage girls' heads are chopped off.

- Kevin O'Brien Chang is a businessman. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.