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Never another Tivoli massacre - Holness

Published:Thursday | November 13, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Christopher Serju

OPPOSITION LEADER Andrew Holness has served notice that a Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) government under his leadership would rein in the security forces to ensure that the abuses to which residents of Tivoli Gardens were allegedly subjected to during the May 2010 incursion will never happen again.

More than 70 persons were killed, injured and some are still unaccounted for more than four years after police and soldiers cordoned off the JLP stronghold in search of convicted drug trafficker Christopher 'Dudus' Coke.

"I don't want anything like this to happen to you again, or to any other community in Jamaica ... and if I have the authority in my hands to run this country, I give you my word that our security forces will operate with respect for every citizen of Jamaica, whether they live in West Kingston or they live in any other constituency, that the security forces will protect and serve you, the citizens of this country," he told labourites on Sunday.

Holness, who was guest speaker at the annual West Kingston constituency conference of Area Council 1 at the Denham Town Community Centre, disclosed that the party had taken the decision to provide legal assistance to the people of West Kingston who want to participate in the independent commission of enquiry into the events of May 2010, slated to start on December 1.

Helping victims

The JLP leader, who was a member of parliament in the Bruce Golding-led JLP administration that ordered the security forces to capture Coke on the orders of the United States government, said the party was lending its full support to helping those persons who were affected.

"So let it be known publicly, let it be known clearly, irrefutably, that the Jamaica Labour Party wants to tell their story to the commission because you have a story to tell, that Jamaica needs to know," he told the Denham Town residents.

In a wide-ranging speech, the opposition leader then took aim at the reigning People's National Party (PNP) accusing it of being a bad government, eroding as it did all the national gains achieved in crime fighting, health care and education, as well as economic growth and stability, from 2007-11 when it held the reins of power.

In fact, declaring that 'sufferation tun up' since the PNP won the general election, the former education minister accused the Government of playing down the health threat posed by the current chikungunya crisis and, in so doing, causing the death of many Jamaicans.

He told supporters: "This Government knew about chikungunya coming to the region two years ago and did absolutely nothing about it. A number of people have died as a result of contracting chik-V and other underlying conditions which made them weak and susceptible to those conditions. I'm sure all of Jamaica knows about such cases of people who have high blood pressure, of people who have heart conditions; those people ... most of them drop and lick them head and dead because them can't walk."