Jamaica Gleaner
Published: Thursday | January 24, 2013
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Tivoli residents want closure
Horace Levy, director of the Jamaica Civil Society Coalition, looks on as Tivoli Gardens resident Barbara Royes addresses a press conference hosted by the coalition in St Andrew yesterday. - Ricardo Makyn/Staff Photographer
Anastasia Cunningham, News Coordinator

The only thing the residents of west Kingston want is closure. But each broken promise of the anxiously awaited 'Tivoli Report' only serves to sink their hearts deeper and prolong a horror they just want to put behind them.

"We need to know why. Even if the report said it was justified and we feel it was not, at least we would hear something and know that something is being done," a passionate Barbara Royes told The Gleaner yesterday. "Our human rights have been taken away and we need to know why and what caused it."

Royes served as the voice of the residents of west Kingston during a joint civil-society press briefing yesterday at the St Andrew office of Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ). The group was demanding answers from Parliament and Public Defender Earl Witter about Witter's interim report into the 2010 incident in Tivoli Gardens which resulted in the deaths of more than 70 people.

"I believe that if the public defender come out with one piece at a time, we would feel like it is a start and something is going on, but don't wait to bring out the whole thing one time," noted Royes.

To the west Kingston residents, she said, the May 2010 incursion by the security forces was one of the worst injustices they had ever experienced, and was only being made worse with no answers forthcoming.

Reliving the horror of the incident, she said the residents did not regard it as an incursion, but a massacre.

"If someone told me that this would happen in Jamaica, I would say is lie. What happened that day is what we watch on TV, not in Jamaica," said Royes, who was born and grew up in west Kingston and now works in the area.

REPORT DELAY QUESTIONED

She said as the May anniversary of the event approaches, the residents have been wondering what could be the reason for the report taking close to three years to be completed.

"You know what the residents down there saying? Things like 'Dem come kill off wi pickney and wi nuh hear nutten and nutten nah gwaan'; 'Dem come mash up we house and nutten'. We are upset. A great injustice was done and it's like no one cares," she lamented.

"Right now, some people just give up. Some people still holding on, but we just want it to be done with. We need certain intervention now to deal with it so everybody can get on with their lives. We just need answers, some assurance. That would be so comforting."

CALLING FOR ANSWERS

At the same time, the joint coalition of the Jamaica Council of Churches, Jamaica Civil Society Coalition, Citizens Action for Free and Fair Elections and the JFJ put forward several questions for which they demanded immediate answers.

The groups requested that Jamaica be provided with an interim report on the investigation into the events in west Kingston in May 2010. They also called for a commission of enquiry into the incursion, with international assistance. The groups also demanded that Parliament give an account for the operations of the Office of the Public Defender, which is a commission of Parliament.

The military-police operation in west Kingston was carried out in search of fugitive Christopher 'Dudus' Coke, who was wanted for extradition to the United States (US) on drug-trafficking charges.

Coke was captured almost a month later and extradited to the US.

anastasia.cunningham@gleanerjm.com


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