Sat | Jan 19, 2019

Environmentalist on hunger strike admitted to hospital

Published:Sunday | October 12, 2014 | 12:20 PM

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Oct 12, CMC – Environmentalist Dr. Wayne Kublalsingh was admitted to a private hospital here on Sunday after his health “deteriorated” according to a statement posted on the website of the Highway Re-Route Movement (HRM).

“I know he is stable, he is okay, but I can’t say what the medical situation is,” said David Abdullah, who over the past few days has emerged as a spokesman for the environmentalist.

Abdullah said he was urging people to participate in an event later on Sunday “not only for Wayne’s recovery but also the country in relation to finding a way forward out of this impasse”.

Kublalsingh, 55, a former University of the West Indies (UWI) lecturer, who heads the HRM, had embarked on the indefinite hunger strike 26 days ago to protest the construction of a segment of the seven billion dollar (One TT dollar =US$0.16 cents) highway in south Trinidad.

Last week, Kublalsingh’s medical practitioner Dr. Asante Van West-Charles-Le Blanc, warned that the environmentalist is near death with his vital organs showing signs of deterioration.

“Based on the laws of physiology, and on studies of hunger strikers, there is now organ damage including to the nervous system. Based on my observations, I have strongly and repeatedly advised Dr Kublalsingh to cease this hunger strike before it is too late and further irreparable damage is done to his organs,” said the doctor, who has since withdrawn her services.

She said the ultimate result of a hunger strike of this nature is death “and to my mind this is highly probable and a rapidly approaching occurrence.

“The true clinical picture is not a pretty one, there are no smoke screens or tricks, this citizen of Trinidad and Tobago is dying,” she said, adding that she would still be available to him if an emergency occurs, “and I will be happy to attend to him in any institution of his choice if he decided to stop this hunger strike”.

He is also requesting a meeting with Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar to discuss new proposals put forward by the HRM to deal with the construction of the Debe to Mon Desir segment of the highway that Kublalsingh said would not destroy the environment in the area, particularly the Oropouche lagoon.

Prime Minister Persad Bissessar has said her government would not be held to ransom by the environmentalist and has so far refused to accede to the request for discussions.

According to the HRM statement, Kublalsingh has been taken to the St. Clair Medical Hospital, near the office of the Prime Minister.

"We wish him strength to continue the struggle for accountability and transparency,” the statement said, reminding supporters to gather at the Nelson Mandela Park near the hospital for “a candlelight vigil calling for mediation on the matter”.

In 2012, Kublalsingh had embarked on a 21-day hunger strike over the same issue and called it off after there had been agreement for an independent commissioner to look into the controversy.

The HRM said the commissioner, Dr. James Amstrong, had produced a report which should have been binding on all stakeholders including the government, and the environmental group has accused the government of reneging on the agreement to abide by the amstrong report.

“Please come in your numbers to say Yes to Mediation, end this impasse and advocate for a win-win solution for all,” the HRM said.


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