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'We don't want a whitewash' - West Kingston residents call for international probe into 2010 police-military operation

Published:Thursday | March 21, 2013 | 12:00 AM
These residents of west Kingston had nothing to be happy about yesterday, International Day of Happiness. They marched to Jamaica House to deliver a petition to Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, demanding an international enquiry into the May 2010 incursion of Tivoli Gardens by the security forces. - Gladstone Taylor/photographer

 Daviot Kelly, Staff Reporter

Yesterday may have been International Day of Happiness, but for residents of Tivoli Gardens and west Kingston, it was anything but.

Close to 200 of them assembled at Mandela Park before marching to Jamaica House to deliver a petition addressed to Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller. They are demanding an international enquiry into the May 2010 incursion by securityforces. They want those who had command responsibility for the incursion, including former Prime Minister Bruce Golding, to face the International Criminal Court for trial if necessary. They are also seeking compensation for property damage and other abuses.

The group of mostly women stopped at the Police Officers' Club to decide which four would proceed further to Jamaica House. One of the women selected was initially denied entry because she was wearing tights. But after reasoning with the officers in charge, she was allowed in.

Marjorie Hinds, whose house was destroyed and whose face still shows the burns of the ordeal, presented the petition to state minister in the Office of the Prime Minister, Luther Buchanan. He vowed Simpson Miller would give the letter her attention.

The event's organiser, Lloyd D'Aguilar of the Tivoli Committee and the Campaign for Social and Economic Justice, scoffed at those who felt the crowd was small.

"We weren't trying to turn out the whole west Kingston," he said. He was adamant the petition is fully supported.

"Two thousand people signed the petition. I certainly didn't force them," he said. "I didn't even carry around the petition myself; the people on the ground did that." He said residents were unified in their demands and felt this initiative resonates across Jamaica.

"I don't think there's anyone who can argue against the fact that justice is hard to come by in Jamaica," he said, noting numerous acquittals of security personnel in questionable shootings. He said acts of brutality have been common against west Kingston residents.

"If we allow them to continue and to set up this (local) commission of enquiry that they're talking about, absolutely nothing will come of it," he said. "It will be another whitewash, and we don't want a whitewash. We want justice."


Annette Marshall of Wilton Hill Drive in Tivoli said the residents grew tired of waiting for the Government and public defender to help them.

"So we decide to form a group to get justice for ourselves," she said. "Knowing Portia Simpson Miller, I think she will listen when we talk 'cause we need di help."

When asked if she thought the petition would succeed, she said: "Anything wi a go try. Nutten tried, nutten done. Wi nah stop!"

Her neighbour, Adina Darby, shows her scar where she says she was shot by a policeman.

"I don't get nutten - not even a dollar," she said, accusing the security forces of theft. "Dem all tek out every paper money inna mi house."

Pat of Keith Avenue in Tivoli said it was not about politics, but justice. "We leave everything to God," she said. "He will give us our justice and our rights."