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Assassination of Agriculture Minister Satyadeow Sawh

Articles taken from from Guyana Chronicle , GINA , Kaieteur News and Stabroek News - April 23rd - 30th. 2006

See also - The signing of the Condolence Book at the Guyana Embassy office in Caracas Venezuela


Glorious memories of Sash Sawh - Posted April 21st. 2007 - By Odeen Ishmael


Read messages posted in the condolence forum.


A FAMILY CUT DOWN: Minister Satyadeow Sawh, right, and his siblings at a recent religious function in Guyana. From left are Rajpat Rai (killed) Krissendat Rai, Bidwanie Rai, Pulmatie Persaud (killed) and Om Prakash (wounded).


Minister of Fisheries, Crops and Livestock, Satyadeow Sawh, was early Saturday morning (April 22nd. 2006) brutally murdered along with his brother and sister, a security guard. Masked gunmen dressed in military fatigues invaded the 50-year-old minister's home at Earl's Court, La Bonne Intention (LBI), East Coast Demerara (ECD), killing the minister, his brother Rajpat Sawh, 62; and his sister Pulmatie Persaud called 'Julie', 54, who were visiting from Canada. The minister's security guard, Curtis Robertson, 38, of Leopold and Cross streets and his dog was shot and killed at the front of his yard. Three other people were also injured: Omprakash Sawh, 53, another brother of the minister also a resident of Canada; and security guards Albert Mangra, 59, of Better Hope, ECD and Aga Khan, 53, of Lusignan West, ECD.

Satyadeow Sawh Drive - tribute to late Minister


Guyana Chronicle - April 25th. 2007
Minister of Local Government and Regional Development Kellawan Lall, this evening participated in unveiling ‘Satyadeow Sawh Drive’ as part of the commemorative activities for the first death anniversary of the former Minister of Agriculture. The simple but significant ceremony took place today, in Earl’s Court, La Bonne Intention, East Coast Demerara, where the late Minister resided.

Those present included Chief Executive Officer of Go-Invest Geoff Da Silva, Regional Chairman of Region Four Clement Corlette, widow of the late Minister Mrs. Sattie Sawh and residents of the community.

Minster Lall said that “this area has a special place in our hearts because this is where the late Minister spent his last moments.” Naming the street after the late Minister symbolises the dedication the society pledges towards continuing his (Minister Sawh’s) good works, Minister Lall said. He was pleased that the citizens of the community took the initiative which had the blessing of President Bharrat Jagdeo. Minister Lall also alluded that plans are in train to develop the area, particularly the roads.

Mrs. Sawh after unveiling the street sign stated that she deeply appreciated the initiative undertaken by the residents and pledged her support for any plans to develop the neighbourhood. Minister Sawh was assassinated on April 22, 2006 at his residence along with his sister, brother-in-law and a security guard.



MRS. SATTIE SAWH, widow of assassinated Minister of Agriculture Satyadeow Sawh, unveils the sign naming the street in Earl’s Court, LBI, East Coast Demerara, where the family resided “Satyadoew Sawh Drive”. Minister Sawh was killed along with two siblings and his security guard on April 22, 2006. Assisting Mrs Sawh is Pastor Brinmore Phaul, left, a resident of the area. At right is Minister of Local Government Mr. Kellawan Lall. (Delano Williams photo)

Year later, only one man charged in Sawh murders

By Nigel Williams Sunday, April 22nd 2007 - Stabroek News

A year after the grisly and brutal murders of Minister Satyadeow Sawh, his two siblings and a security guard at Earl's Court, LBI, only one person has been charged in the case and numerous questions hang over the police probe of the matter.

News of his death spread far and wide, tributes and statements of condemnation poured in and the joint services were deployed along the East Coast. They set up camp aback of Buxton, the village where the murderers were said to have been hiding out.

But not much has happened since, save to say that one man was charged with the murder while over half a dozen more who were identified by the police as suspects are at large. The promised external assistance that government had announced it would have been seeking following Sawh's death never materialised and one year on, three families are heartbroken and there seems to be no end in sight as the investigation into these killings drags on.

"Obviously I am not satisfied fully because we have not made progress in rounding up the other suspects who have been identified as associated with this activity," Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee commented when asked about his impressions of the police investigations.

The minister's wife and their two sons have migrated to Canada where they once lived before Sawh was called home to be part of the PPP/C Government in 1992. And the husband of Sawh's dead sister, Phulmattie Persaud, who was also killed the same day has indicated that he was going to file a lawsuit against the government accusing it of being responsible for his wife's death.

One man charged

Police last year December charged Jermaine 'Skinny' Charles, one of several men who were identified as suspects in the murders. But Charles as he was being remanded to prison, shouted in the courtroom, "Me ent kill Sash, they planting murder on me." Charles, who is facing eight other murder charges, was the first and only person to be charged with the murders of Sawh, his siblings Phulmattie Persaud and brother Rajpat Sawh. He was also charged for killing Curtis Robertson, the minister's guard.

The 21-year-old Agricola resident was not required to plead to the charges when they were read to him at the Georgetown Magistrate's Court. However, while the magistrate was reading out the cases the alleged killer hissed through his teeth. He continued murmuring, "These people keep bringing murder charge and giving me. They just keep putting murder charge on me. What really going on? They just destabilising me." Charles and others were also charged with the shooting deaths of five people at the Kaieteur News printery; businessman Barbot Paul; Wordsworth Grey and 12-year-old Kevin Browne who was killed in his Mc Doom home.

At Earl's Court

Stabroek News took a trip to Sawh's Earl's Court home on Friday. It is tightly locked, furniture cleared out and no one is living in it. Thick weeds are about to overtake the once well kept lawns of the minister and cobweb and bird dung have begun to settle on the outside of the one-flat concrete house.

The street, where the minister's house sits was desolate when Stabroek News visited - no sight of a child playing in a yard or an adult returning home after a day's work.

The few houses in that scheme, located a few metres away from the LBI Sugar Estate factory were tightly locked, there was no neighbour to share a word on the events of the morning of that fateful day. We took a peep into the verandah where Sawh's hammock was strung up as he lay relaxing when he was killed. There was no blood in sight, but the memory of him lying there dead came rushing back.

April twenty-two

On the morning of April 22 seven masked gunmen dressed in military fatigues invaded the minister's home and riddled him, his two siblings and Robertson with bullets. Reports were that the minister's wife Sattie and his brother Omprakash were in the kitchen when they saw a masked gunman looking at them through a window. It was around 12.15 am. Sattie had said that she alerted the minister who was in his hammock on the veranda, but before he could scamper to safety, he was riddled with shots. He collapsed just inside his front door.

Sawh's brother Omprakash hid his sister Phulmattie Persaud underneath a bed, but the gunmen found her and after dragging her out shot her in the face. The gunmen then turned their weapons on the minister again and at the same time placed Omprakash on top of Rajpat to execute them both. Omprakash said he begged the men for his sister's life and gave them $23,000, a digital camera and a watch. He said he and his brother were praying for their lives, but before the gunmen left they fired another shot at them killing Rajpat. Security guard Robertson was also murdered.

Police had linked the killings to a Buxton-based gang and in July last year they issued wanted bulletins for now dead, notorious prison escapee Troy Dick who was on the run since February 23, 2002 when he and four others made a bloody escape from the Camp Street Penitentiary; Rondel 'Fineman' Rawlins of Agricola, Orlando Andrews known as 'Biscuit' or Jeffrey of Buxton, David Zammett called David Leander or 'Bullet' of Buxton and Richard Daniels called 'Chucky' of Agricola. The police also issued wanted bulletins for 'Cash' and 'Not Nice' of Buxton, `Sonny' of Agricola and 'John Kirby' also of Agricola, who was killed last year. Following the shootings that rocked the entire nation President Jagdeo had said that foreign help would have been sought to solve the murder of the minister, but to this date there has been no such move.

No external help

Asked about the status of the external assistance, which was supposed to have come from Canada, Rohee said that he had not heard anything on that. And when questioned whether the next move was Guyana's or Canada's, he said he could not say. "All I know is that the people responsible in Guyana for solving these murders are doing what they have to do," Minister Rohee declared. Although there were some interaction between government and the Canadians on issues of national security following Sawh's death many felt that the announcement that Guyana would be seeking external help to solve the murders was appeasement to a troubled nation at the time.

Rohee said that he understood that the police are continuing their efforts to track down the minister's killers, but he conceded that it was a painstaking task. "But I believe at the end of the day we will find them. In the same way we will find the Army's stolen AK-47s we will find them," the Home Affairs Minister declared.

Police have failed to solve countless execution-style killings over the years and high-profile cases such as Ronald Waddell's have gone unsolved so far. Asked what was responsible for the police sloth in bringing to justice the other suspects in the minister's killing, Rohee said that no particular reason has been advanced. He said the killers have probably gone deep into hiding. "They probably dug themselves into a deep hole," Rohee remarked, adding that some may have left the jurisdiction illegally or otherwise.

"So it is not that the forces aren't out looking for these people, they are looking for them, everyone has been on the alert."

Rohee said if the gunmen have left the country or are disguising then this would pose a challenge to the security forces to find them.


Sash Sawh murder suspect believed held in Suriname

Friday February 9th. 2007 - Stabroek News

Agricola resident Richard 'Chucky' Daniels, wanted in connection with the assassination of Agriculture Minister Satyadeow `Sash' Sawh, is believed to have been arrested in Suriname last week along with another Guyanese, Acting Police Commissioner, Henry Greene has said.

Greene said that the Guyana Police Force learnt about the arrest of Daniels and has since requested details from Suriname. He said that they have also asked Suriname to send a photograph of the man in custody, which would assist them in confirming whether it is indeed Daniels. The Acting commissioner could not provide any more details on the arrest of the Guyanese when pressed by the media. He said that the police force was in the process of gathering more information with regards how Daniels and the other man were captured. Additionally, Greene told the media that from all reports the man who was arrested with Daniels is also wanted here in relation to several robberies.

Several Guyanese wanted back home are allegedly hiding out in Suriname and French Guiana. The men have been able to dodge the police by crossing over to the neighbouring countries via the backtrack route at Number 78 Village Corriverton.

Many of them are also involved in criminal activities in the neighbouring countries.

Police on January 6 had published a wanted bulletin for seven persons including Daniels for the April 21, 2006 murders of Sawh, two of his siblings and a security guard.

The police are offering a reward of $2 million for information leading to the arrests of the seven men. The police said that the men are wanted in connection with the investigation into the murder of Minister Sawh, other murders and serious offences.

In addition to Daniels the other wanted men are Rondell Rawlins called 'Fineman' of Agricola and Buxton; Orlando Andrews called 'Biscuit' or 'Jeffrey' of Buxton; David Zammett called David Leander or 'Bullet' of Buxton; 'Cash' of Buxton; 'Not Nice' of Buxton and 'Sonny' of Agricola.


Appeal fund for slain security guard family open

Sunday, July 9th. 2006 - Guyana Chronicle

THE appeal fund for the family of slain Security Guard Curtis Robertson, initiated by the Guyana National Newspapers Limited, publishers of the Guyana and Sunday Chronicle about two months ago, has been activated.

An account, with the number 6550461, is open at the Republic Bank (formerly National Bank of Industry and Commerce (NBIC.)

A page one photo and editorial in the April 29th edition of the Sunday Chronicle on the plight of the wife and seven sons of the security guard stirred the hearts of many readers here and overseas.

In response to the e-mails and in our little way to help the family in this great hour of need, the appeal was launched.

Robertson was slain in the murderous attack on acting Agriculture Minister Satyadeow Sawh on April 22. Two of the ministers’ siblings Pulmatie Persaud and Rajpat Rai were also killed.

MOURNING: Curtis Robertson’s reputed wife, Rehanna Haywood, and five of his seven children at their home. (Delano Williams photo)

Since the attack, several persons from overseas and agencies from Guyana, such as the University of Guyana, have made donations to the guard’s widow Rehanna Haywood.

She says she is thankful for the appeal which was launched since the money will help out a great deal.

Haywood was given a house lot at Parfaite Harmony, West Bank Demerara by the Guyana Government and Food for the Poor has offered to build the home.


A month after Sawh's killing

Monday, May 29th 2006 - Stabroek Editorial

Hopefully no one was holding their breath waiting for the government to take decisive and judicious action on crime. A full month following the heinous murder of Minister Satyadeow Sawh and three others there is no sign that the government has a plan or is even marshalling one. As we expected there was a lot of palaver: the gunmen were from Buxton, we know who they are, there will be major changes in the security services if there are no results and we have written to the western governments for help.

To date, nothing tangible has emerged from any of these statements. Buxton has been further demonized and the army has encamped there but not a single suspect in the Sawh case has been apprehended. The government now says that the intellectual authors of the murders are being searched for. When last has the police force been able to construct a case ensnaring the remote intellectual author of a crime let alone successfully prosecute it? This will be one to see. Thus far the army's presence in Buxton can only be described as showmanship and a dangerous one at that as there can be all types of clandestine activity playing out that it is in not in touch with. The longer it stays there without producing the gunmen from the backdam the closer its mission will verge on failure. So if this was a major pillar of the government's response to the Sawh killing then it has not worked.

In terms of police investigative action there is no progress. The police have been silent on this case since the first few days after the crime. Stunning. A minister of the government, two of his siblings and a security guard are gunned down mercilessly and it is all as if this horrible episode must be consigned to memory banks to be recited with a partisan twist in decades to come but never to be solved. Certainly by now since there are no results to show the government would have been expected to lift its effort to some other level.

This is where that other expectation raised should have kicked in quickly: external help. The government has written to Washington, London and Ottawa seeking assistance. Perhaps it is all hush-hush but surely the populace could at least be told what was asked for or envisaged. Is it police advisors, commander-level policemen, forensics help or detectives? Whatever it was it is already late and the trail that was to be followed has been covered over.

The lack of action and the elections mode that the country finds itself in would lead cynics to question whether this wasn't the type of situation that the government could milk for all its worth for electoral gain. Sadly, the reality of this situation is while the government and the security forces have no results to show for a whole series of horrendous crimes, citizens live in a state of fear, many continue to leave for good or plan to do so and a great uncertainty shrouds the country and its prospects from the interest of investors, tourists and others.

No one is expecting the government to direct a crime response on the scale of a Cecil B. DeMille epic. What they expect though is an urgent common sense response that is cognizant of the shortcomings of the police force and sets time bound tasks. When these fail then plans B and C must kick in whatever these are. And there are many other areas and interstices where a thinking, throbbing government can act: the ease of availability of guns of all sizes and calibre continues to fuel this bloody assault on law order. What about a limited amnesty or a buy-back? Nothing has been done on this front except for mumblings from the government on how difficult it is to patrol the country's borders. That is true but it doesn't mean that one must simply throw one's hands up in the air in resignation.

The thriving illegal licence plate business is another area as in many others where the government and the police have failed to act. The government is now without law making fiat since the dissolution of Parliament, hobbling any new effort to fight crime. All the more disconcerting as new and toothy anti-money laundering legislation was to have been presented for passage so that inroads could be made into this business and that of drug trafficking; another glaring failure of this government.

It is just not acceptable for the government to sit and sit and allow murders and other reprehensible crimes to go unsolved. Here is a sample of the more shocking ones that remain unsolved from recent months: Jack Rambarran, August 2005; Daniel Thompson, December 2005; Ronald Waddell, January 2006; the murder of eight persons at Agricola, February 26, 2006; the disappearance of the AK-47s, February 27, 2006; the murder of Minister Sawh and three others, March 22, 06. When will the government act?


Fearsome odds

Posted April 30th. Guyana Chronicle - by Shawnel Cudjoe


UPHILL TASK: Rehanna Haywood and her eight children yesterday. (Delano Williams photo)

AROUND 23:00 h on April 21 last, Rehanna Haywood called her husband, Curtis Robertson on his cellular phone to check in with him, unaware that it was the last time she would hear his voice.

Less than two hours later, gunmen launched a murderous attack on the home of Acting Agriculture Minister Mr. Satyadeow Sawh, leaving four persons and a dog dead and three others wounded. Sawh, his brother Rajpat and sister Pulmatie Persaud were all shot to death. The fourth person was the security guard, Curtis Robertson.

Rehanna Haywood was Robertson’s reputed wife for more than 13 years. Yesterday, she sat with the Sunday Chronicle at the home they shared at Lot 59 Cross Street, Werk-en-Rust in the city, and gave an insight into the jovial, hardworking, dedicated family man Robertson was.

Haywood said she was introduced to Robertson by an aunt who worked next door to the Strategic Action Security firm.

“He was always telling my aunt, who worked next door that he needed a good woman to take care of him. One day she introduced us and we became friends until now,” she said.

At 37, Robertson was the father of six boys – Stephon, 13, Devon, 8, Curtis Jnr. 7, Triston, 5, Mark, 4 and Kevin, 14 months old. He always ensured that his family was well taken care of, Haywood said. He also cared for two of her children from a previous union.

Understandably, when she first got the news, shock and disbelief overwhelmed her since she had spoken to him less than two hours earlier.

“When I heard, I holler out ‘Father God, give me faith!’ I just could not believe it. As long as he reached the workplace, I used to think that he was safe. I never thought about bandits and so on,” she said.

With the acknowledgement that everyone must die at some point, Haywood said that what makes her angry is the manner in which her husband passed on.

“I didn’t do nothing much since he died; like I just sitting around and I still can’t believe it. I am just at home.”

However, from Thursday that will change since she intends to head back to work.

“I got to pay the bills; is not two salaries coming in any more. I’ve got to make a move.”

According to Haywood, coping will be hard, since she is yet to come to grips with the cruel hand that fate has dealt her.

“I don’t know how I will pick up the pieces. I feel weak now and sometimes I feel like nothing matters, but I got to try. When he was around, I used to feel secure and full of life…”

But she is willing to try for her children’s sake.

Haywood, 33, said that her husband always treated her like a queen.

“He used to come off at Lamaha and walk all the way to Kingston where I used to work and come and pick me up in the morning.” She said that the two would then walk to the market, pick up fruits and vegetables for the children and head home.

Haywood added that Robertson would even accompany her to the salon. She recalled that it was only the Thursday before he died that he took her to have her hair ‘steamed’.

“He would help wash, cook and we would even go to the market together and I never had woman problems with Curtis”, she said, adding that he was full of life and had lots of plans.

According to Haywood, Curtis was dedicated to his family and went all out to ensure that they were happy.

“Everyone in his home must be happy and comfortable; that was what mattered most to him. He would buy pizza or KFC and we would eat it as one,” she said. “If Minister gives him a piece of chicken, be brings it down and says ‘you eat’.”

“I would collect his whole pay cheque. You know some men would hide off the money? Curtis would never do that. Where you gon find people like him now?”

She said that she has already spoken to her children about what happened, but the smaller ones seem unable to comprehend.

“Devon says he miss putting on his father’s shoes and tying his laces before he goes to work every afternoon and the baby does still call for ‘dada’ because he does be the last one to go to the door and say ‘bye, bye’ when he leaving,” she added.

According to Haywood, neither her husband nor Minister Sawh and his siblings deserved to die the way they did.

“He was like a family man, a church man and he was never uptight,” she said of the minister. She recalled that her husband, his stepfather Aga Khan, who was also wounded in the attack and is still hospitalised, and the minister and his family had a special working relationship.

“From the time that man bought that house, he give Curtis the keys and told him that he could be in the home whenever they were not there,” she said.

“Christmastime, the two of them always had the biggest baskets,” she said, adding that the Sawhs never wanted anybody else around them except Robertson and Khan.

Sawh’s other brother Rajpat, who was also killed in the attack, was also like family to them.

“I remember when he came from Canada last Christmas. He was telling Curtis that his (Curtis’) family getting bigger and he need to start saving money to buy a washing machine.”

At his funeral service on Thursday, General Secretary of the Guyana Rice Producers Association, Mr. Dharamkumar Seeraj in his tribute said that Robertson’s boyishness and jovial manner may have been some of the qualities that attracted him and the late Minister Sawh to each other, since they were very much alike in those aspects.

Haywood was visited by officials from the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security on Friday and the Guyana Relief Council and the Government also helped with the funeral expenses.

She faces an uphill task of taking care of eight children but she intends to take things one day at a time.

You can help us help them IN OUR small way of helping Ms. Rehanna Haywood and her family cope with this tragedy, the Guyana National Newspapers Limited, publishers of the Guyana and Sunday Chronicle, will be launching an appeal for funds this week. We have already received several pledges and will be announcing details of how you can help us help them by mid-week.


Another good soldier gone

Guyana Chronicle - Friday April 28th. 2006

SECURITY guard, Curtis Robertson, hailed as “a soldier to the end” by Roger Sawh, son of slain Minister Satyadeow Sawh, was laid to rest yesterday afternoon.

Robertson, 37, who leaves behind his reputed wife Rehanna Haywood and seven sons -- between one to 13 years old -- was gunned down along with Sawh, his siblings Rajpat Rai Sawh and Pulmattie Persaud early Saturday.

Robertson was an unarmed guard working at the minister’s home, when he was brutally murdered by heavily-armed masked men who simply walked off the scene. Police said their intention was to execute the minister, his family, and any eyewitnesses.

Robertson stood guard at the minister’s house, in the company of their German Shepherd dog, Brutus. The dog was also killed.

He was described as a hardworking and jovial person who loved life, by those who paid tribute to him at the Lyken Funeral Chapel in Georgetown.
FAMILY FAREWELL: Curtis Robertson’s Wife Rehanna Haywood, second from left, and six of his seven sons and others at the funeral service yesterday. (Quacy Sampson photo)

The minister’s son Roger paid tribute to Robertson when he spoke at his father’s funeral service Tuesday.

General Secretary of the Guyana Rice Producers Association (RPA) Mr. Dharamkumar Seeraj, in his tribute yesterday, said Robertson’s boyishness and jovial manner may have been some of the qualities that attracted him and the late Minister Sawh to each other, since they were very much alike in those aspects.

He told persons that the greatest tribute they can pay to Robertson is to adopt some of his qualities to take them through life.

Reading the eulogy, his sister, Ms. Jennifer Robertson-Scott, described her brother as an ambitious person who was always willing to go the extra mile for his children.

She said he lived a respectful life and was well liked by his colleagues and superiors.

Deputy Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Mr. Hydar Ally, was among mourners at the service.

Robertson was buried at Le Repentir Cemetery.

Good soldier gone


Story by Neil Marks
Photos by Winston Oudkerk, Delano Williams, Quacy Sampson - Guyana Chronicle Wednesday - April 26th. 2006


FAMILY IN MOURNING: Members of the Sawh family at the official tribute for the late Minister Satyadeow Sawh at Castellani House.
MINISTER Satyadeow `Sash' Sawh was hailed as a modern day martyr in Guyana' fight to preserve democratic gains and as "a fantastic human being" when thousands, from the elite to the ordinary, stood in rain, most without umbrellas, to pay final respects to him yesterday.

President Bharrat Jagdeo said "Sash has become the modern martyr in our country' drive to preserve our democratic gains and advance the goal of progress" and vowed that his assassins will be "destroyed."

At the funeral, the President whipped the security forces, charging that with more than 5,500 officers and a $7B budget, it was no use telling him about operations. He said he wants to see results, expressing disappointment that the security forces have been unable to quell the threat of 15-20 gunmen.

"We know who they are. We will track them down," he vowed at the official tribute held at the historic Castellani House, just opposite the Ministry of Agriculture on Vlissengen Road, Georgetown, where Sawh served as minister for more than eight years.

Sawh, 50, was cremated alongside his brother Rajpat Rai Sawh, and sister Pulmatie Persaud at the Good Hope foreshore, East Coast Demerara. The three of them, along with security guard Curtis Robertson, were mercilessly gunned down by an armed gang that stormed his house at La Bonne Intention, also on the East Coast, Saturday morning.


PPP FAREWELL: Members of the PPP give the victory sign as they thank Satyadeow Sawh for a "a job well done" and bid farewell.
The funeral was a mixture of outright condemnation of the minister' assassination, calls for his assassins to be brought to justice, and of sterling tributes, especially for his work among rural farmers, for whom he saw agriculture as their way out of poverty.

"Let our tears be irrigation for a new crop of fighters for the protection of our democracy and the development of our country," said Mr. Navin Chanderpal, whose portfolio of Agriculture Minister Sawh took over when he resigned a few years ago.

Sawh left behind his wife, Sattie, and two sons Roger, 19, and Dave, 16. Roger described him as the "the biggest teddy bear" and with the reputation he built up, he said his father went down with "a blaze of glory."

He also paid tribute to their guard Robertson, calling him "a soldier to the very end, and he even paid tribute to their dog, Brutus, who was also killed in the attack. It was a reflection of the humility and the dignity Sawh accorded any he came into contact with, whether high official or those he walked with in the mud.

"We will pull together and weather this very difficult storm," Roger told a mammoth crowd at their Earl' Court, LBI home where his father was murdered.

When his body arrived at Freedom House, headquarters of the governing People' Progressive Party (PPP), the outpouring of emotions from Afro-Guyanese women, who credited Sawh with their livelihood, was a telling demonstration that he had transcended ethnicity in his dealings with the ordinary people.

"In agriculture, he was up and down the country" to improve the lives of the rural poor," Mr. Clement Rohee, Minister of Foreign Trade and International Cooperation stated.

MARTYR


A NOBLE MAN: Former President Mrs. Janet Jagan as she pays tribute to the life of Satyadeow Sawh.
At the official tribute ceremony, the President issued his sternest words of disappointment against the security forces, saying despite a sizeable complement of members, and hefty financial support, they have been unable to get the bandits. But he said he believed that among them there are those who can capture the criminals.

He indicated he was not satisfied with them saying they have operations, but wanted to see results.

"No one can convince me that among 5, 500 persons in the security forces and all the money we spend in that area, that we can't find and mete out to them what they deserve for terrorising our country and our people," he declared.

"Those that orchestrated and perpetuated this attack are adrift of human decency. These cowards that resorted to the barrel of a gun to snuff out his life knew they were sowing the seed of destruction and division. It was an attack on our values as a people and our way of life," the President stated.

"They ran away, but they cannot run forever. We will track them down where they are. We will go wherever the trail leads, and we would not distinguish between those who carried out this act and those who directed them. We owe this to Sash Sawh," he declared.

He added: "Our hearts are filled with grief at the blatant assassination of someone whose service to public life went beyond the call of duty. Our country has lost a patriot and my government has been deprived of a hardworking and diligent minister."

PPP General Secretary, Mr. Donald Ramotar also asked "why Sash?" He said his assassination was an act of terrorism, designed to create fear and panic in the country.

"I have no doubt that the intellectual authors of this beastly act had as one of their objectives, to undermine the growing unity of our people. Unity and solidarity are enemies of terrorists," he said.

In response, he said Guyana must work even harder to defend democracy, and to advance socially, economically and politically.


HOME TRIBUTE: Part of the mammoth crowd for the funeral service of the late minister, his brother Rajpat and sister Pulmattie.
Touching too on the possible objective of the assassins to impact the upcoming elections, he said this object must be forfeited with the holding of free and fair elections of international standards and witnessed by national and international observers.

"Our security forces must bring to justice those that have committed these foul deeds with seeming impunity. We call on them to redouble their efforts and bring an end to terrorism in Guyana," he urged.

The President hailed Sawh as a fine human being, someone whom the government was proud to have among its members. He said "he worked long and hard hours, both in and out of office to fulfil his duty to the people of this country."

The President said one of the things he remembered most about Sawh was his humility.

"No matter who he was dealing with, he always treated the other person with the greatest respect. Sash was truly a humble and warm human being", he added.

"He has become a martyr in the struggle to consolidate and expand democracy in Guyana," Ramotar said.

PPP TRIBUTE
The ceremony at Freedom House was to honour Sawh' unwavering loyalty to the party. The arrival of his remains was greeted with great wails from mainly Afro-Guyanese women, one remarking that he was responsible for all she had in life. She begged for him to get up.

It took a while before senior members of the party could suppress the commotion to begin offering tributes in speeches.

Answering the question of why Sawh died from an assassin' bullet, Rohee said "the murderers had to find someone who was the embodiment of the PPP."


PART of the crowd that gathered at Freedom House, headquarters of the ruling PPP to pay tribute to Satyadeow Sawh.
He said the two outstanding qualities he saw in the late minister were his ability to stay with the party and his ability to fight for the party.

He noted that from age 15, Sawh joined the Central Georgetown group of the Progressive Youth Organisation (PYO) and emerged as a student leader in protesting unjust practices of the then PNC government.

He recalled that he would ride up on his bicycle in school clothes to park at Freedom House to ensure he got to the PYO meetings and this was the birth of a long life of political activism and faithful dedication to the PPP.

Chairman of the PYO, Dr. Frank Anthony said Sawh' radiant smile and optimistic words were always reassuring. He added that his religion was selflessness, a quality he devoted to his party.

Anthony charged that Sawh' murder was an attempt to assassinate the spirit of the PPP, but he warned that this illusion should not persist that the party or the people would be conquered by fear.

He said there is an amazing democracy about death - those who cause it, face the inevitable. Anthony called on the security forces to do their duty and apprehend the criminals.

Speaking on behalf of the Women' Progressive Organisation (WPO), the women' arm of the PPP, Mrs. Indra Chandarpal, recalled Sash as he was known, as a "jolly fellow" with a big heart and a warm smile.

She described him as being a friend of the WPO, recalling that while in Canada as head of the Association of Concerned Guyanese, he would send articles in barrels for the women.

"He touched all our hearts, he was a true patriot", she said.

She recalled the care he had for his mother, when he told her he wanted to bring his mother home as he wanted her to experience sunshine and to see the flowers grow.

In asking the question of what crime he committed to deserve the kind of death he suffered, she said he was a victim of political assassination.

"We are told they are known," she told the gathering, and said the perpetrators must be brought to justice.


MARTYR: President Bharrat Jagdeo speaks at the official tribute ceremony for Satyadeow Sawh.
She was moved to tears when she concluded with "Death of a Comrade" by National Poet Martin Carter.

Guyana' Honorary Consul to Toronto, Mr. Danny Doobay, who worked with Sawh in the ACG in Canada for the restoration of democracy to Guyana, said the pain of his death struck at the heart of the organisation.

Doobay said he worked with Sawh for about three decades and found him to be an exceptional man, "the eternal optimist," who believed that Guyana would continue to improve.

When he received contributions, if it was $1,000, $100, or just $10, he made the contributor feel worthy of it; there was never a distinction, Doobay related.

He said Sawh had many choices, like staying and working in Canada, but said he was committed to Guyana, and for that he paid the ultimate price.

He recalled that during the flooding in Guyana, Sawh was visiting in Canada with his family, but became restless when he learnt of the tragedy and packed up and returned to help.

Doobay said the fitting tribute to Sawh would be to ensure democratic gains are not reversed and that the gains across the country continue.

Statements were read from PPP groups in the United Kingdom, New York, Grenada, and a group of farmers from Aishalton in Region Nine, who said they will miss him this October, when Guyana celebrates Agriculture Month.

In her tribute, former President Mrs. Janet Jagan hailed Sawh, saying he was one of the strongest members of the party. She said she was impressed with his work and loyalty and when she served as President from 1997-99, she could also depend on him to get the job done, never having to press or bother him.

She recalled that her late husband, President Cheddi Jagan, held Sawh close to his heart and did not move an inch when there was protest against his appointment as Ambassador to Venezuela back in 1993. She said Dr. Jagan' confidence was cemented when he received a national award from the Venezuelan government.


GOOD HOPE FAREWELL: Part of the eager crowd that braved the rain to say farewell to the late minister.
She said Sawh realised his full potential when her husband, then President, in 1996, recalled him to Guyana to serve within the Ministry of Agriculture.

"He was determined to see the agriculture sector become a vital sector," she said.

She described him as a man of excellent character, "noble, beautiful."

The party' General Secretary, Mr. Ramotar, said the life of Sawh was snuffed out in his prime, and the loss to the party and the state is immeasurable. He described him as one of the most loved and most capable in the party.

"He was not known to have any enemies; he was known to forge friendships. His love and energy knew no boundaries. He was known to have been a great friend of fishermen, farmers and the toiling people, generally," he said.

After the speeches, senior party members, notably, Rohee, were moved to tears, for the singing of the party song. The minister' coffin was quickly draped with the flag of the PPP and placed in the hearse, which then drove slowly, with party members holding flags, marching the mile or so to Castellani House.

OFFICIAL TRIBUTE
President Jagdeo said many people are fearful that the minister' assassination was the precursor to a plan to disrupt general elections due this year. But he charged the elected political leaders to combat the anti-democratic forces in the country.

He called on "every single elected politician" in the country to join with him in stating unequivocally that they stand for democracy, the rule of law and for the promotion of a peaceful and prosperous Guyana.

"This is not about rhetoric, saying one thing in the public and doing something else behind the scenes. It means telling your party members and political supporters that there is no space for ambiguity for the murderers who carried out this act and others of recent months," he charged.


PART of the crowd at the Good Hope crematorium site where the bodies of Minister Satyadeow Sawh, his brother Rajpat Rai and his sister Pulmattie Persaud were cremated.
The President said if the politicians of this country believe in the people' democratic right, they will also recognise they must give the people confidence that they are committed to holding peaceful, free and fair elections.

"I stand ready to work with every political leader who recognises that democracy is not served either by violence or interference with the holding of peaceful, free and fair elections as soon as possible. They must also make it clear that democracy cannot be served by acts which seek to subvert the elections commission, the body which is mandated by our laws, to make all decisions pertaining to the conduct of elections," he stated.

He said now is the time all politicians must stand up and demonstrate the leadership that all decent Guyanese are entitled to expect.

He urged Guyanese also not to be defeated by the enemies by letting feelings of anger translate into any negative feelings against fellow Guyanese.

"We must stand together to show to the world that Guyana is better than this, and that our people will emerge stronger and more united. We must make it clear that we will not tolerate any division. We will not let fear take over our lives," he said.

He said the words of Sawh' younger son, Dave, to reject revenge and bloodshed showed what he inherited from his honourable father and should be of inspiration to all Guyanese.

"April 22, 2006 will go down in Guyanese history as the day when our young democracy experienced an assault of unprecedented savagery. Let it also go down in history as the day when Guyana united, like never before, and the day when the decent people of this country said `we'll take no more from those who try to damage us, but instead we'll join together to beat back those who try to hurt us'. And we'll continue with our work to develop this nation," the President stated.

Canadian High Commissioner to Guyana, Mr. Bruno Picard said Canada found Sawh to be an indefatigable enthusiastic and reliable partner, and was proud to give him active citizenship, along with his brother Rajpat and sister, Pulmattie.


GREAT LOSS: President Jagdeo among other mourners.
He called for the leaders of the country to unite and confront the "defining moment" that the country now faces.

He urged leaders in government, opposition, civil society, religion, and the international community to unite with Guyanese to find strength and wisdom to take the right steps to bring long lasting peace and security to the country. He said there can be no sustainable development without peace and security.

"I know there is desperation and anger out there...it' part of the grieving process. But the time is not for anger. The time has come to harness our energies to apply the full strength of the law to those responsible for taking the lives of so many innocent people," Picard stated.

"It is also time to build a better Guyana," he added, saying this is the obligation the country has to meet in memory of Sawh. He ended by saying Sawh has stood by Guyana and in fair and in good weather for the past 40 years.

The eulogy was delivered by Mr. Chandarpal, from whom Sawh took over the reigns of the Agriculture Ministry.

He said Sawh embraced the political struggle back in 1970 while attending the Indian Trust College. He said those years required courage, courage Sawh possessed.

Chandarpal, who was a teacher at the school, recalled that at one point when teachers were being given a raw deal, he had no difficulty in getting the support of students. He said Sawh emerged a leader when he organised a boycott of classes.

He praised Sawh' outstanding contribution to the restoration of democracy as a leading member of the ACG in Canada. He also praised his work as Ambassador to Venezuela and as minister responsible for the agricultural sector.

"He felt a strong bond with those farmers, fishermen, workers and others," Chandarpal stated.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Dr. Dindial Permaul credited Sawh with a plethora of initiatives in the agricultural sector. He noted Sawh had a special liking to showcasing agricultural products, because he felt it would bring enhanced marketing opportunities.

Permaul called Sawh a champion of agricultural diversification and said the non-traditional sector grew under his leadership. Just before he died, Permaul said Sawh was ardently behind the design of a strategy for marketing change for selected commodities. He said the Ministry of Agriculture is even more determined to implement the strategy.

General Secretary of the Rice Producers Association (RPA) Mr. Dharamkumar Seeraj recognised Sawh for his dedication to the farming community in ensuring they could enjoy a good life.

"Wherever we were, whether we were dressed in a suit, whether we were barefooted in the mud, or swimming in floodwaters, he was one of us. He was there and he made us feel comfortable," Seeraj recounted.

"The greatest tribute we can give to this hero, whether we are deep down in the savannahs, high up in the Kanukus, or the Pakaraimas, way down in Orealla, or way up the North West District, places he went to, is to ensure his assassins are brought to justice, and brought to justice like yesterday," he charged.

Tributes were also delivered by Sawh' brother Bidwani, Mr. Bruce Vieira, President of the Guyana Association of Trawler Owners and Seafood Processors, Mr. Patrick DeGroot, President of the Guyana Poultry Producers Association and Mr. Komal Chand, President of the Guyana Agriculture and General Workers Union.

After the tribute ceremony, the body of Minister Sawh headed for his LBI home, from where the bodies of his brother and sister were also taken for a funeral service according to Arya Samaj rites.

There was much confusion as the hundreds who had converged at the home tried to get a glimpse of the minister' body. The crowd got uncontrollable to a point where even President Jagdeo had to take the microphone and plead with the people for patience and order.

After the singing of a few Bhajans, eulogies were delivered for each of the three dead. Then the bodies were placed on a truck decorated by the Arya Samaj and taken to the Good Hope crematorium. By then it was raining, and thousands had gathered.

The cremation was scheduled for 13:00h, but the funeral procession arrived some three hours later. The thousands who gathered at the site did not dwindle. They braved the rain.

Most did not have an umbrella. They were determined to stay on, and different groups at different points sang Bhajans (Hindu religious songs) as they awaited the procession.

By the time it arrived, almost all were soaked, but they still wanted to bid farewell. They squeezed their way through to get a glimpse, but many were disappointed. They were simply too much. Those who came with wreaths were determined to have them placed on the funeral pyre.

Rajpat' casket was the first to be lit, followed by his sister', and then that of Minister Sawh. President Jagdeo stood watch as the Sawh family performed final rites and set his casket alight.

At this point his widow and two sons could not hold back their tears. The strength and dignity they had demonstrated to all was still there, but their tears were for a dear husband and father, "a man among men," as his eldest son described him.

Sawh' ashes will be interred where his mother' were placed at their hometown, Felicity, Mahaicony.


Not without his hammock - a wife’s farewell

Guyana Chronicle - by Neil Marks April 25th. 2006

TODAY, Sattie Sawh is not letting her husband go without his hammock.

She will place it in his coffin, before he is cremated.

He would never give up his hammock. If someone was in his hammock, he would quickly give them the signal out, jokingly adding, “I ain’t dead yet.” Her husband is dead now, but she would not let anyone have his hammock. It belongs to him.

Minister Satyadeow Sawh was in his hammock on the dreadful morning of April 22. He had just come home from an outing with his wife, his son Dave, his brothers Rajpat Rai, Omprakash, his sister Julie, and nephews.

When Sattie Sawh and Omprakash alerted him to gunmen in the yard, Sawh barely managed to get out and just past the door when he was floored by bullets to his buttocks and left leg. As she hid in fear in the bathroom, Sattie said she heard his groans, but could do nothing. She believes he received the death bullet to his neck when the gunmen were leaving.
HAMMOCK FAREWELL: Sattie Sawh says she will place her husband’s hammock in his coffin in which his body will be cremated today. (Delano Williams photo)

She met “Sash” as he is called, 24 years ago. Her aunt was the mother of the minister’s brother-in-law through his sister Julie, who was murdered with him.

Her aunt had seen Sash and liked him, and so they were introduced at a party back in December 1981. The next August, they were married.

She says before he died, he possessed the same qualities he had at the start of their relationship in Canada where she was studying.

“He was a very loving person, very endearing. Simple, quite full of jokes, and of course, he was handsome, or so he thought,” she laughs.

She was an active member of the Association of Concerned Guyanese, on which her husband served for a decade. The group had formed a women’s arm, and she was part of the movement that wanted to see a bright future for her country.

When the People’s Progressive Party won the elections of 1992, she was invited to move with her husband and two children, Dave and Roger, to Caracas, where he was appointed Ambassador to Venezuela by President Cheddi Jagan.

“I had no hesitation in going. We saw it as an opportunity to do something for Guyana. We felt honoured that Dr. Jagan saw him fit for the position.”

When in 1996 he was called to Guyana to serve as Minister within the Ministry of Agriculture, Sattie says her feelings had not changed. She willingly came back with her husband.

At home, she says Sash performed his dual role of father and husband admirably.

He tried to go to the Arya Samaj temple frequently. When they married, she was an orthodox Hindu, he was the Arya Samaj, but she converted. She sends out press releases from the Central Arya Samaj, but he was the one who wrote them.

For social time, she said they would have dinners, go to the creek and cultural shows.

She is proud too of the part he played in raising their two children. “The worst mistake they could make is telling him they had something to do. He would be behind them until they were done. He would not let go,” she recalls.

“And then, for him, everything is a speech. That is the way they were brought up. Of course, mine was the shortest,” she says.

Describing the everyday life of her husband, she said he was fond of his hammock. “He would get up, head to the kitchen for his coffee and into his hammock. The he would read his papers and head out to work. When he came home, he would settle in and then head to his hammock. Then he would have dinner and he would head straight back into the hammock.” Sometimes, he would let others have it for a while, but he would be waiting for them to get out. “Thank God, I was waiting for that,” she recalls him saying.

She says she will miss most their afternoons together.

“That’s where he relaxed all the time, in his hammock on the patio. I have to put it in his coffin. I will do it,” she says.


Rajpat Sawh murdered while praying - brother recalls

Stabroek News - by George Gomes - Tuesday, April 25th 2006

Minister Satyadeow Sawh's brother Omprakash yesterday recounted hearing his brother Rajpat's blood gush out of him, as he lay on top of him pretending to be dead and they both prayed.

Sorrow etched in his face, Omprakash Sawh recalled how gunmen brutally murdered his brothers Satyadeow and Rajpat and his sister Phulmattie Persaud and a security guard Curtis Robertson at Minister Sawh's LBI home.

At first, Omprakash Sawh was reluctant to recount the events of Saturday morning, but as he recalled the good relationship he had shared with his siblings he opened up a little.

He recalled alerting his brothers, Satyadeow and Rajpat, and others who were on the verandah outside after seeing one of the gunmen in the yard through the kitchen window. However, before the minister could get to safety he was gunned down.

"The door was open. We were taking breeze man," Omprakash Sawh said.

He recalled that he hid his sister Phulmattie fondly called 'Julie' under the bed but one of the gunmen found her. "I begged that man to leave her alone. [I told him] take what you want and go." However, the gunman went ahead and fatally shot her.

He said at least two men with masks were inside the house. He said handed over $23,000 to the men. They also took his camera and a wristwatch. "They took a watch, one of these that is just to tell time and one of these, you know, Guyana bands."

He said the men placed him to lie on top of his brother Rajpat, who was saying his prayers. "I was saying my prayers too," Omprakash said. The men then shot him in his left side abdomen and hip as he lay on top of his brother. "I played dead," he said, recalling that until then Rajpat was still alive.

He said it appeared that as the men were leaving they shot his brother in the head. He said he heard his brother's blood gush out. "I heard the shooo. You know the blood coming out."

He immediately realized that both of his brothers and his sister were dead and tried hard to remain calm.

He was adamant that the incident could not be referred to as a robbery. "Robbery?! Robbery is when you take what you want and go. Or you tape up people and rob them," he said angrily.

An exemplary father

Minister Sawh was also an "exemplary father," his older son, Roger Sawh, said yesterday. "I wouldn't say good. He was exemplary. I only know the father. I don't know the minister."

When asked whether Minister Sawh was ever stern, his son said he was, "but not in a way to scare you. He was a logic bound man. He would always make you see the reason. He was a champion debater." Roger Sawh is studying at the University of Toronto. He said he has not decided on his major yet but it will be "something along science."

Growing up in Guyana

Reminiscing about growing up in Guyana, Omprakash recalled how close he and his siblings were as children and how they looked out for each other.

He also spoke poignantly of his outstanding younger brother Satyadeow of whom he had been exceedingly proud.

"We were close growing up, going to the same schools," Omprakash said yesterday. They attended the Mahaicony Scots and Richard Ishmael schools together. "[One of] the best times was Phagwah. You know, with the girls. We would say 'boy that girl I got to throw powder on her today'."

He said Minister Sawh was always "bubbly, smart, approachable." He was also more dedicated to the Progressive Youth Organisation (PYO) meetings they would attend as young men. "He used to go. While I would say I gon go to Metropole or so. Then on the way back home he would tell me what went on so in case of any questions [from their parents] I would know."

He said while living at Berbice they would go to the Number 63 beach together. "And you know, do the things that boys do."

He also recalled their times in the rice fields; their father had been a farmer. After a long day's work they would say "I wish if some small car or plane could come and carry us home." He said Julie was "also a part of us."

Omprakash resides in England where he works as a Jaguar motor technician.

He recalled that his brother had once spent a week in England at the behest of Prince Charles. "The man had a limousine for a week. Wherever he wanted to go. [He was] one of seven agriculture ministers in the world [on the visit] my brother."

He also told Stabroek News of Minister Sawh having had the opportunity to meet Pope John Paul II while serving as Guyana's Ambassador to Venezuela.

Pictures of these events and others including one of Minister Sawh's wedding were put together in a collage for his fiftieth birthday and hung on the wall. At the bottom are the words: 50 - A Great Inning so far.


Rollercoaster of bloodshed

Monday, April 24th 2006 - Stabroek News Editorial

The murders of Agriculture Minister Satyadeow Sawh and three other persons on Saturday at his home represent yet another grave escalation in the rollercoaster of violence and bloodshed. What is the solution? How can Guyana escape this murderous, never-ending ride?

There are no easy fixes nor quick answers. In the present situation, against the backdrop of the slaying of a serving minister, the major onus to act falls on the government which must be in a state of shock at the moment. Up until Saturday it had been immune from the scourge of the murdering gunmen. Not anymore.

What the public needs to hear from President Jagdeo and his government is an acknowledgement that the security of the State is under threat and that the security forces as presently configured need help to deal with the crisis. Anything less than that will be a continuation of the administration's irritating policy of denial and the pretence that everything is under control. The security of the State did not only come under threat on Saturday with the murder of Minister Sawh. That act represents but one of a series on a remorseless continuum which has seen the administration refusing to act decisively.

In retrospect, the jail-break of 2002 irreversibly changed the parameters of the security situation and ever since then the government has struggled to play catch up. In the vacuum created by the failure of policing, the 2002 escapees were taken on by the phantoms/death squads and there were suddenly new, dangerous players in the security calculus.

Ever since 2002/3, the balance of power between the criminals and law enforcement has tilted back and forth and new forces enter and leave the stage at will. At no point in recent years has law enforcement comprehensively gained the upper hand and in the past few months there has been a sharp deterioration in security which has seen a curious mix of murders, confrontations with suspected drug kingpins and political intrigue. During this period, the Waddell murder was a key marker in addition to the Agricola massacre, the attack in McDoom in which a 12-year-old was killed, the disappearance of the army's AK-47s and, of course, the furore over the tape allegedly featuring the Police Commissioner.

The most glaring feature of these major incidents, and there are many others like the murders of the American, Daniel Thompson and contractor Gazz Sheermohamed, has been the complete and utter failure of the police force to solve them or to come up with credible answers. The police force in its present form has been reduced to collecting bodies and taking notes at crime scenes. It isn't accomplishing much more than that.

This has been the situation for years but the government has completely ignored it, perhaps in the mistaken notion that the problem will go away or that someone else will take care of it. That is not how a government is supposed to govern. Now, a minister and his siblings and a guard have been savagely cut down. Does anyone believe that we'll get answers on who did it? Does the Police Commissioner think that the public will be convinced by his diagnoses given his poor track record of solving major crimes? Does the Minister of Home Affairs think that people will believe her when she offers platitudinous statements to the effect that `we will solve this crime'? Does the President believe he can calm the public with trite statements?

If there was ever a reason for seeking to replace the Police Commissioner it is his poor performance and that of the police force under his command, not the uproariously ridiculous fandangle over the taped conversation. But will this government act? Each and every PPP/C President since 1992 has put up with unacceptable work from the police force and there has been a complete refusal to institute fundamental change. Monica Reece remains the undying embodiment of the failure of the PPP/C administrations and the morass the police force has been left in.

The government can honour the memory of Minister Sawh by going all out to find his killers and those behind the recent unsolved murders and bring them to justice. The only way it will be able to achieve this is through a radical shake-up of the police force and the security apparatus. We have been on record many times urging the government to seek competent help from foreign police forces to tackle the country's security quagmire. We urge it again. The nation awaits decisive action by the government in this time of crisis.


Toronto Star - April 24th.

Guyanese mourn minister,

family 600 attend prayer services for Canadians killed abroad Local community wants Ottawa's help to get answers to crime

LESLIE SCRIVENER - STAFF REPORTER

Toronto's Guyanese community wants Canada to intervene in Guyana after the brazen murder of the country's agriculture minister and his brother and sister who were all Canadian citizens.

"If a minister of the government cannot be protected, how can ordinary citizens be protected?" asked Dr. Budhendra Doobay, head of the Vishnu Mandir Hindu temple in Richmond Hill, after morning services in which prayers were said on behalf of the minister, Satyadeow Sawh, his sister, Phulmattie Persaud of Mississauga, and his brother, Rajpat Rai Sawh of Scarborough.

He said representatives of the local Guyanese community — some 130,000 — should meet with federal officials to find a way of resolving the growing crime problem in Guyana.

"This was wanton killing," he said, adding that even three security guards could not protect Sawh and his family. One of the guards, a father of five, was also killed in the attack early Saturday morning.

About five armed men, masked and bearing rifles, scaled the fence of Sawh's East Coast Demerara home first shooting the family's dog and the guards, then wounding the minister.

According to reports, the attackers demanded cash and jewellery from his brothers; although they complied, they were told to lie on the floor and both were shot. Persaud was dragged out from under a bed, where she had fled and was shot in the face. Sawh's wife, Satti, hid in a cupboard until the last shot was fired.

That shot, she believes, was directed at her husband's head as the killers left the house.

"Many people saw Satyadeow as a future president of the country," said Joe Jaglall, a member of the Vedic Cultural Centre in Toronto, who worked closely with Sawh here and in Guyana. More than 600 attended prayer services for Sawh, who attended York University and was for 10 years president of the Association of Concerned Guyanese, and his family at the Markham temple on Saturday night.

"People were asking, `what are we going to do as Canadians?'" Jaglall said. "Just like our government stepped in for the people who were murdered in Mexico, people are asking what can our government do to see that justice is done after these murders."

Guyanese President Bharrat Jagdeo said in a statement on the weekend that the murders were an attempt to destabilize the country's democratic government. He also said that the government would seek "external assistance in tracking down these murderers."

Danny Doobay, Guyanese honorary consul in Toronto, agreed Sawh was well regarded in Guyana. "After the president, he would be Number 2."

While the attacks have been presented as a robbery, he also believe the intention was to create fear and uncertainty in the months leading up to an Aug. 4 election. "We are now getting into uncharted waters. If the government can't meet the Aug. 4 deadline, it is at the end of its legal term. The president can stay in power, but the president can't rule the country by himself. This puts us into very grey territory."

Canada has a history of helping Guyana in the early days of its democracy, said Doobay, with former federal NDP leader Ed Broadbent and former Ontario Liberal premier David Peterson leading delegations to observe the country's elections in 1992.

Officers from the Canadian High Commission in Guyana have visited Sawh's family, said Foreign Affairs spokesman Rodney Moore in Ottawa. He could not comment on the community's plea for assistance.

The Sawh's elder son, Roger, 19, is a student at the University of Toronto; their younger son, David 16, lived with his parents but was out with his Canadian cousins at a club at the time of the attacks. The Toronto contingent, who were visiting to mark the anniversary of Sawh's mother's death, were to return to Canada yesterday.


Govt seeking help from US, Canada -Sawh didn't want armed guards at house - wife

By Oluatoyin Alleyne Monday, April 24th 2006 - Stabroek News

Guyana has written to the governments of the US and Canada seeking help for local law enforcement agencies in their investigation of the gruesome murder of Agriculture Minister Satyadeow Sawh and three other persons on Saturday.

This disclosure was made to Stabroek News yesterday by Information Liaison to the President, Robert Persaud. On Saturday, President Bharrat Jagdeo had signalled that the government would be seeking overseas help in this case.

Meanwhile, amid questions about the level of security at Sawh's house, his widow, Sattie, yesterday said he never liked guns and didn't want to have armed guards at his home as he felt he was safe and no harm would have befallen him.

"But he didn't know he was living among some animals," Sattie said referring to the gunmen who brutally gunned down her husband, his sister and brother and his security guard early Saturday morning.

She said it was only recently they had built the high fence in front of the yard. Government ministers are allowed to have police protection but Sawh wanted none, according to his wife.

The Guyana Police Force made no statement on the investigation yesterday. Repeated attempts by Stabroek News to contact Deputy Commissioner, Law Enforcement, Henry Greene and the police public relations department for an update on the probe proved futile.

Yesterday when Stabroek News visited the home scores of relatives and friends were pouring in, offering their condolences. Large tents were set up in the yard under which there were numerous chairs.

The slaying of the minister has left the country in a state of shock and the society rife with several theories as to who would have carried out the dastardly act and why.

His death prompted President Jagdeo to convene emergency meetings with the heads of the security forces and cabinet members. Cabinet instructed the security heads to take maximum measures to investigate and apprehend the perpetrators. The police said robbery could have been the motive as money was taken but said they are not ruling out other motives. The robbery motive is not supported by many and some persons showed their anger when Police Commissioner, Winston Felix in a brief comment to the media at the crime scene on Saturday morning said that there were demands by the gunmen for money.

Minister of Health, Dr Leslie Ramsammy told Stabroek News at the scene seconds after the commissioner made the comment that he was publicly calling for the resignation of the commissioner. Dr Ramsammy was not the only one who was upset at the statement. Director of Sport and PPP/C executive, Neil Kumar had to be restrained by persons around after Felix made the statement.

It was around 2:15 on Saturday morning when masked gunmen dressed in military fatigues invaded the minister's home at Earl's Court, La Bonne Intention (LBI), East Coast Demerara, killing him, his brother Rajpat Sawh, 62; and his sister Phulmattie Persaud called 'Julie', 54, who were visiting from Canada. The minister's security guard, Curtis Robertson, 38, of Leopold and Cross streets and his dog were also shot and killed at the front of the yard.

The injured included Omprakash Sawh, 53, another brother of the minister and also a resident of Canada, and security guards Albert Mangra and Aga Khan. While the minister's brother was treated and sent away the two security guards were admitted to the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC).

The bandits took away $23,000 and it is suspected they escaped with other articles.

Recounting her horrifying experience, the minister wife's said the first moment she knew something was drastically wrong was when she saw a masked gunman looking at her through the kitchen window of the bungalow-type home. She was at the time with her brother-in-law, Omprakash Sawh. The family had just returned home and the minister was outside with his sister in the hammock. Sawh's wife said that she immediately alerted her husband and she ran into her room where she concealed herself in a bathroom.

She heard family members begging for their lives and came close to losing her own life when the gunmen entered the room and confronted Sawh's sister who by that time had concealed herself under the bed in the same room. The woman was dragged out and shot and killed.

After being alerted to the danger, the minister had jumped out of the hammock but was cut down in a hail of bullets just past the door. He was shot in the buttocks, left leg and head. The latter wound may have been sustained as the gunmen were leaving as Sattie said she heard her husband groaning while the bandits were dealing with the other family members. One of the brothers begged for his life and handed over the money but they were placed on top of each other and shot. Rajpat was fatally wounded at this point.

The bandits apparently entered the yard from three different locations - a hallmark of a well-planned, military-style operation.

Simultaneously with the attack on the family was the one on two security guards working at nearby homes. Mangra was one of the guards while Roopnarine Thakurdin took evasive measures.

Reports say that the men might have been dropped off by vehicles on the East Coast Embankment Road and then made their way to the minister's home on foot through a small alleyway and then through the empty lot opposite the home. It is believed that the men knew exactly where they were going.

The minister's wife yesterday said she cannot begin to explain what her husband meant to her and how his death is affecting her. She said presently she has to stay strong for her two sons and the three children of her husband's dead siblings.

At the time of the attack, the minister's teenaged son, Dave, and his cousins were out socialising. He returned to find his father dead. Remembering his father, Dave said, "…my father was a good man… He never smoked a cigarette, he never cursed he was always just a good person doing his work."

He said he and his brother, Roger, who is studying overseas, had been with his father on many of his trips around the country as he interacted with the grass roots population.

"We have visited every region in this country and everywhere we went my father was so loved and we felt loved too. When he introduced us to people it was like if we were known before," the young man said.

His father was in his hammock just before he met his death and according to his son it was a place his father would find himself every night when he went home from work.

"Every night when he came home, between six and seven depending on what is happening, he would be there before we sit and have dinner."

As he pondered the brutal fashion in which his father met his death the young man said like many Guyanese he is asking himself, "why."

Dave said that as a young person growing up in Guyana with all the negatives around him he attempts to find at least one positive with which he could work. "I also try to understand what is happening but sometimes I can't, especially now with my father's killing."

He posited that while persons should sympathise with him and his family they should quickly find a way to move on with their lives as that is what his father would have wanted. For him from now on in his studies and other endeavours he would strive to do his best for his father and mother.

While some may be angry at his father's death and may want to exact retribution, Dave is advising that they move on and not take revenge as it would not heal the hurt. He said he has already told some of his father's grass root supporters who are angry and had spoken about revenge not to think of it. He said revenge could only cause more bloodshed and pain.

"Don't grab a gun and do anything, just talk about it and you would heal and do something positive," he advised. (Additional reporting by Christopher Yaw)


Masked assassins were merciless
-- Sawh, brother, sister shot in head
By Neil Marks


SERVING GUYANA: Mr Satyadeow Sawh, then Guyana Ambassador to Venezuela, in an interview at the Guyana Chronicle offices in December 1994. (Winston Oudkerk photo)
THE wife of assassinated acting Agriculture Minister Satyadeow Sawh heard her husband groaning in pain after the masked killers stormed into their house yesterday morning, but had to stay hidden in a bathroom to avoid the assassins.

Sattie Sawh yesterday said she hid, trembling in fear, emerging later to find her husband shot dead, along with his sister and a brother.

As the family and the nation tried to comprehend the horrors of the unprecedented assassination of a top government minister, President Bharrat Jagdeo ordered his security chiefs to take ;maximum measures; to find the armed gang responsible for the well planned and executed assassination.

Those slain with Minister Sawh were his brother Rajpat Rai, sister Pulmatie Persaud and security guard Curtis Robertson.

The murder of the acting Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Crops and Livestock at his LBI, East Coast Demerara home, sent shockwaves across the country, and forced President Jagdeo to summon emergency meetings with his Cabinet and security heads to push an intensive probe for which the government said it will consider pursuing external assistance.

No one had been arrested up to last night and the armed men, who Police said were masked and wore camouflaged clothing, left the centre of their bloody rampage on foot, just as they came.

The Police said they are using tracker dogs to pick up clues to the assassins.

While the Police said their initial theory was robbery, the governing People's Progressive Party (PPP), for whom Sawh spearheaded Canadian efforts for the restoration of democracy at home, said the primary motive was to kill the minister and members of his family.

One of the possible objectives of this assassination might be to foment hatred and violence and fracture the unity of our country, the PPP stated.

Police Commissioner Winston Felix, at a press conference, said he was not ruling out other motives than murder.

The government too expressed concern that the attack might be part of a sinister plot to impact the outcome of the upcoming regional and general elections.

Sawh, 50, fled Guyana for Canada in 1975 at age 19 during the domineering years of the Forbes Burnham regime. He returned to Guyana at the calling of Dr. Cheddi Jagan, who had steered the PPP/Civic (PPP/C) alliance to victory at the 1992 polls.


COMFORTERS gather on the patio of the Sawhs residence where Minister Sawh was relaxing in a hammock before he was slain.
During the early morning attack yesterday, another brother of the minister, Om Prakash, 53, of Canada, and security guards Albert Mangra, 63, of Better Hope, and Aga Khan, 53, of Lusignan, were wounded.

Minister Sawh was hosting his siblings for the first death anniversary of their mother.

Minister Sawh's wife, Sattie, a prominent member of the Hindu Arya Samaj movement, who was in their Earl's Court, LBI home at the time of the brutal slayings, managed to conceal herself and avoided harm when the killers struck.

Sawh's younger son, Dave, 16, was out clubbing with his cousins, also from Canada, after the elders left Le Meridien Pegasus Hotel where they were socialising.

The Sawh's eldest son, Roger, 19, is away in Canada, where he is pursuing university studies. The Sawhs are all Canadian citizens.

Police said Minister Sawh and the others had returned home from an outing just after midnight Friday when the heavily-armed men opened fire on the road, scaled their southern fence and invaded their home slaying them with 7.62 rifles, among other weapons.

The men attacked Sawh's residence after firing at the guards of Sawh's neighbours.

Mangra, who was on duty at Lot 64, was hit in the abdomen. The gunmen then discharged several rounds at security guard Roopnarine Thakurdin, 53, of Better Hope who was on duty at Lot 63. However, he managed to take evasive action and escaped unhurt.


Minister Satyadeow Sawh with his wife Sattie and younger son, Dave.
The armed men then gained entry into the minister's premises by jumping over a southern fence, fatally shooting Robertson in the body. In the process Aga Khan, who was on duty next door, was shot in his abdomen.

The men also shot and killed the minister's dog, then gained entry through an open door where they killed Minister Sawh. He was shot in his left leg, buttocks and head, Police said.

Police Commissioner Felix said the minister was alerted to the gunmen by Om Prakash who was in the kitchen. The brother saw a masked man in camouflage clothing armed with a gun staring at him through the window and he alerted the minister who was on the patio. The minister was reportedly killed before he could dash to safety.

After killing Minister Sawh, they confronted his brother Rajpat and Om Prakash and demanded cash and jewellery. Police said Om Prakash handed over G$23,000 cash, whereupon they were placed to lie on the floor and the men fired at them several times. Rajpat was killed while Om Prakash was wounded in his left side.

The minister's sister Pulmatie, who was in another room, was killed from a close range gunshot to her left side face.

Police said the men then ransacked the house after which they fled. The Police could not determine if articles were stolen during the incident.

Om Prakash was treated at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation and sent away, while Mangra and Khan were admitted for further treatment.

SATTIE'S ORDEAL


Roger Kaviraj, eldest son of Minister Satyadeow Sawh in Canada.
Mrs. Sawh said she and Om Prakash were in the kitchen when they both saw a gunman at the window. She said she only saw his eyes. At that she rushed to an inner room to call the Police.

Om Prakash scampered to alert the minister who was relaxing in a hammock on the patio. But Minister Sawh barely managed to get out of the hammock and just past the door, where he was shot in his buttocks and leg. Om Prakash was ordered to find cash and jewellery.

Mrs. Sawh said when she reached the room, the phone was not there. Someone had taken it out of the room as there was a blackout during the day and they could not use the cordless phone.

She said when she reached the room, she heard gunshots and jumped into the bathroom inside the room, where she endured the ordeal with her mouth tightly shut.

She said the minister's sister, Pulmatie, was in the same room hiding under the bed, but the gunmen came into the room, dragged her out and shot her in the left side face.

At that time she was trembling with fear, being just a few feet away in the bathroom. She said the men left the room, but she could hear the gunfire continue.

Minister's Sawh's other brother, Rajpat Rai, was gunned down inside an adjacent room. Om Prakash was led right into the room where he was ordered to lie on his brother's bloodied lifeless body. A gunman fired a shot at him, she said, but it managed to graze his side, and he pretended he was dead.

While this was happening, Mrs. Sawh said she knew her husband was alive as she heard him moaning Ow, Ow," in pain.

However, she dared not leave her place of concealment. She said after the gunfire stopped, she waited for a while before she emerged from the bathroom. She first saw Pulmatie lying dead on the bedroom floor. Then she guardedly opened the room door.

When she went into the sitting room, she saw her husband lying flat on his stomach just past the door inside the house. She saw all the gunshot wounds. She said she suspected one of the men fired the gunshot to the back of his head while they were leaving. This is the bullet she believed killed her husband.

The bullet passed through his head and into the wooden floor. A mat was covering the hole in the floor right next to the chair she sat to relate her story later yesterday.

She stared at the floor and her tears flowed. All of those who died, she said, were shot in the head.

I am still in shock. I feel numb. I have two sons to consider and I have to see how it goes. I came from Canada because I love Guyana and it would take a lot for me to leave my country, she mustered up courage to say.


Father of seven brutally cut down

By Shawnel Cudjoe

CURTIS ROBERTSON, a 37-year-old father of seven, was a jovial man who worked hard to provide for his family and his death has left an enormous space in his household.

The security guard at acting Agriculture Minister Sataydeow Sawh’s Lot 61-62 Earl’s Court, La Bonne Intention, East Coast Demerara, home was killed in a hail of bullets when gunmen invaded the premises shortly after midnight Friday. Curtis Robertson

Minister Sawh, his brother Rajpat and sister Pulmatie Persaud were also brutally killed in an attack that has sent shockwaves throughout the country and plunged it into mourning.

Three other persons, including another brother of the minister, and two other security guards at neighbouring houses were also wounded in the attack.

Robertson, of Lot 59 Cross Street, Werk-en-Rust, Georgetown, was employed by Strategic Action Security for the past 10 years.

His reputed wife Rehanna Haywood, 33, said she last saw her husband around 17:30 h Friday when they both left home for work.

Haywood is also employed by the same security firm located at Lot 194 Charlotte Street, Lacytown, Georgetown.

She said she learnt of the attack around 01:05 h yesterday when she received a message from another security guard, Aga Khan, over the radio set saying that Robertson had been shot.

She explained that Khan, who is Robertson’s stepfather, told them that armed men had entered the place and they had been shot. However, the transmission was unclear and they subsequently lost contact.

Operations Manager of the service, Mohammed Khan, and son of Aga Khan, then tried contacting the men on their cellular phones, but after this proved futile, he decided to travel to the location, Haywood said.

He later called her and conveyed the sad news. “He called me on the set and told me that Curtis is dead and I went down to the hospital.”

Mohammed Khan said when he arrived at the house, his brother was already dead. He said he was lying face down in front of the gate and bleeding profusely. The security guards were unarmed at the time of the attack.

Robertson, a father of seven children between 13 years and one year old, also leaves to mourn his wife, three brothers and six sisters.


MOURNING: Curtis Robertson’s reputed wife, Rehanna Haywood,
and five of his seven children at their home yesterday. (Delano Williams photo)



DISTINGUISHED SON OF THE SOIL
The PPP in a statement said it is deeply saddened and distraught at the assassination of Minister Sawh and the others.

The preliminary indication is that the primary motive was to kill the minister and members of his family. That there was no resistance from the minister and others showed the merciless and demonic behaviour of the armed gang which came and left on foot heading into the backlands, the party stated.

The party said the minister was a distinguished son of Guyana's soil who made sterling contributions at various levels over the years. He was also a longstanding member and faithful activist of the PPP.

Minister of Home Affairs Gail Texieira, who worked with Sawh in Canada for the restoration of democracy, expressed shock at his brutal slaying.

Minister Sawh's contributions to the restoration of democracy in Guyana and the strides in the agricultural sector have been widely acknowledged, the PPP added.

The party noted that the slaying of the minister and his relatives comes at a time when certain forces are aggressively at work to spread fear and harm the peace in Guyana as it heads closer to regional and general elections and said one of the possible objectives of this assassination might be to foment hatred and violence and fracture the unity of the country.

This must be resisted at all cost by all peace-loving Guyanese, it said. 

The party called on the security forces to ensure that those responsible for this assassination are brought to justice at the soonest and insisted that no lead must be ignored.

The PPP said it will be making a comprehensive statement on this matter after its leadership makes a fuller assessment of this situation and when more information is available.

The party extended deepest condolences to the family and relatives of Minister Sawh and hoped that those injured would have a speedy recovery.

SERVING COUNTRY


HERE TO SERVE: Being sworn in as the new Minister within the Agriculture Ministry in October 1996 by President Cheddi Jagan who recalled him from the posting in Venezuela to fill the crucial role. (Mike Norville photo)
Sawh was one of those Guyanese who fled Guyana under the harsh years of the Burnham government. He was born at Mahaicony, East Coast Demerara, the last of nine children. His parents were farmers and brought him up from their stall at the Stabroek Market in Georgetown. Their home and small business was destroyed in the riots of 1963. He lived in many parts of Guyana before heading to Canada.

There he attended York University and attained a degree in economics. During his 20 years in Canada, he headed the PPP's support group there.

My entire spare time was spent with the Association of Concerned Guyanese, of which I was President for about a decade. When you think of it, regrettably, I don't have a personal friend, I don't have a sport, I don't have any kind of music, he said in an interview with Chronicle Editor-in-Chief Sharief Khan, published May 4, 1997.

Besides a job earning a living with a family, all the spare time I had was in one way or the other spent on the association. I was the Editor of the Guyana Current newspaper for the same period of time. That was the party paper. Then organizing meetings when the late President (Dr. Jagan) came, mobilizing people to keep the flag flying and believe me, Sharief, now it is easy. But those times were difficult and trying times, he added in the interview.

When the PPP swept the October 1992 polls, Sawh was appointed Ambassador to Venezuela, where he served for about three and a half years. At the same time he served as Ambassador to Colombia and Ecuador.

Then President Cheddi Jagan invited him to serve in his government and he accepted the portfolio of Minister within the Ministry of Agriculture, serving with Minister Reepu Daman Persaud as his senior.

I like going out and meeting people, I like trying to help particularly small people, poor people," he said, having then been on the job for six months. He would spend the next nine years of his life doing just that.

Tributes to the memory of Sawh are pouring in.

Sawh assassination is attack on democracy
-- President
`If we allow this murder to create division, then we hand victory to the enemies of this State'
PRESIDENT Bharrat Jagdeo last night declared that the assassination yesterday of acting Agriculture Minister Satyadeow `Sash' Sawh was an attack on democracy in Guyana and appealed to Guyanese to rally to beat back the forces of destruction.

In a statement broadcast on TV and radio, he said Guyanese democracy was yesterday morning attacked by forces which seek to destroy everything that this nation represents.

The callous assassination of Minister Satyadeow Sawh was not primarily an attack on an individual, but instead, it was a deliberate assault on the values of our nation. It was an attempt to destabilise our democracy and everything that we have fought so hard over the years to achieve.

He added: 

We wish to express our deep sorrow and condolences to Sash's family, friends and colleagues. The pain they are experiencing at this moment cannot truly be understood.

But let us be clear.

As a nation, we will face down this threat; we will destroy those who seek to wound us, and the peaceful and democratic will of the Guyanese people will prevail. Our democracy will survive, and the institutions of our State will continue to function and serve the people of this country.

I have indicated to the Commissioner of Police to take all necessary steps to find the murderers who carried out this cowardly act. The police will get every assistance that they need from the government. We will also be seeking external assistance in tracking down these murderers.

But that is just part of the response. For generations to come, people will look at how we dealt with this assault on our country, and their judgment will reflect whether the forces of decency and democracy emerged stronger, or whether we allow the forces of destruction to defeat us.I say to all Guyanese:  let us track down those who committed this act. Anyone who has any information about this morning' attack must fulfill their patriotic duty, and inform the police of all that they know.

Simultaneously, let us reaffirm the values of our country.

Let nobody succumb to this attack by showing disrespect to our fellow Guyanese; instead, let us strengthen our commitment to each other. And let us send a signal to the murderers and those who directed them that we will not be defeated. We will emerge stronger, and we will preserve our democracy and way of life.

The work of our government, the work that Minister Sawh was deeply committed to, will continue. We will carry on the fight for the success of all our people. We will continue to improve the economy. We will continue our massive investments in public services. And we will continue to strengthen our efforts to unleash the potential of businesses to create jobs and generate economic wealth. In addition to tough law enforcement, this is the appropriate response to those whose bankrupt idea of development is carried out through the barrel of a gun.

Above all else, we will not let this attack achieve its purpose – we will not let it tear us asunder, but instead, we will recommit ourselves to the creation of a peaceful, prosperous, and prejudice-free Guyana. We will show the world that the decent people of our country can create a future in which all our people can live, work and prosper together.

If we allow this murder to create division, then we hand victory to the enemies of this State.

So fellow Guyanese – speak to your friends, speak to your colleagues, speak to your neighbours. Make it clear to them that you are part of Guyana' noble response to this attack, that you will not tolerate any division among our people, that you will support the police and security forces as they seek to rid our society of this evil, and that you will not allow fear to take over your lives.

Sash Sawh was my colleague. He was a hard worker, and someone who returned to this country and made a tremendous contribution to our nation' development.  We will miss him in the Cabinet as I am sure that the farmers, fishermen and others whom he served and interacted with on a daily basis will miss him.  I saw first hand his dedication to the people of this country. Let us commemorate his life by holding the line, and destroying those who want to divide us. Let history record that we faced down this grave threat, and emerged as a stronger and more united country.

I know the Guyanese people. I know that we have the qualities we need to do this.

My Cabinet met this morning, just a few hours after this gruesome act, and reiterated our collective resolve to put even greater effort in our work to improve the life of every Guyanese. We think this is what our dear departed colleague would have wanted.

I ask all Guyanese to join with us and declare with one voice that we will not be defeated by our enemies, but instead we will destroy them, and continue together on our path to create a socially just and prosperous Guyana.

PNCR calls Sawh slaying 'brutal'
-- deeply concerned about likely impact
THE main opposition People' National Congress Reform (PNCR) yesterday reacted with shock and disbelief to the brutal slaying of acting Agriculture Minister Satyadeow Sawh, two siblings and a security guard.

In a statement, the party extended sincere condolences to Mr. Sawh' grieving wife, family and other relatives, the government and the People' Progressive Party.

The PNCR said it unreservedly condemns this dastardly act.

The killing of the minister, in our prevailing circumstances, poses a severe challenge to this nation in political, social and security terms. The situation demands leadership, prudence, patience and responsibility to ensure that the national interest is promoted and protected, it said.

It reiterated its condemnation of violence of all forms and pledged to continue to work with all stakeholders within the society, including the government, to design, craft and implement policies and programmes which can reduce and finally end this scourge that has already brought grief and major psychological trauma to so many families and great harm to the economy.

The PNCR said it is deeply concerned about the likely impact of this development on the political and social climate of the nation, because this situation is not conducive to healthy political interaction and the building of a truly democratic policy.

It added that it believes that it is in the national interest that the Guyana Police Force identifies quickly the perpetrators of this dastardly act so that they could be brought to justice.

At a press conference at the PNCR Congress Place headquarters, party and Opposition Leader, Mr. Robert Corbin said the killing of the minister is a matter of grave concern to his party and the nation as a whole.

He said while there has been a notable increase in violent crime recently, the fact that it has reached the point where a government minister was killed was a troubling development.

This was cause for concern not just for senior government officials, he said, but for the general high level political leadership in Guyana as a whole.

Corbin said although security concerns were always a priority for the PNCR, the incident prompted him to call together the party leadership for an emergency security meeting scheduled for after the press conference yesterday morning.

We would like to urge all parties to act responsibly, he added.

Assassination may be linked to elections
-- Cabinet fears
CABINET is concerned that the assassination yesterday morning of acting Agriculture Minister Satyadeow Sawh may be linked to general elections due this year, the government said in a statement.

The statement issued after an emergency Cabinet session President Bharrat Jagdeo summoned, said the initial security update indicated that the murder of the minister and others was a well-planned and executed assassination by a large heavily-armed gang.

;The Cabinet expressed the concern that this attack might be part of a sinister plan to impact the outcome of the upcoming regional and general elections, the statement said.

Elections were constitutionally due by August 4 this year but the Guyana Elections Commission has advised President Bharrat Jagdeo that it cannot meet the deadline.

Here is the full statement:

The Cabinet met (yesterday) at State House for an emergency meeting summoned by His Excellency, President Bharrat Jagdeo following the slaying of the Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Satyadeow Sawh, his brother,

Rajpat Rai, and sister, Pulmatie Persaud, and a security guard - Curtis Robertson at his residence – Earle' Court, LBI, East Coast Demerara.

The Cabinet strongly condemns the killings.

The President reported on his most recent briefing by the Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force, Brigadier Edward Collins and the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Winston Felix.

The security chiefs were instructed to take maximum measures to investigate and apprehend the perpetrators of this heinous crime. The Cabinet will consider pursuing external assistance to support local law enforcement efforts.

Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Other Crops and Livestock, Satyadeow Sawh and Regional Chairman of Region Three, Esau Dookie shares a light moment with farmers of Ruby.


Based on the initial security update provided to the Cabinet, the murder of the minister and others seemed a well-planned and executed assassination by a large heavily-armed gang.  The Cabinet expressed the concern that this attack might be part of a sinister plan to impact the outcome of the upcoming regional and general elections.

The Cabinet urges all Guyanese not to be misled and to prevent extremists from hijacking the political agenda of the country. Additionally, to recognize this period as a time for sober reflection and support for aggressive efforts by the State and by all peace-loving Guyanese to unite.

The Cabinet noted the contribution and dedication of Minister Sawh in the agricultural sector as well as his role in the national response to the flood disasters. Minister Sawh's impressive stint as a former Ambassador to Venezuela was underscored as well as his activism for many years in the Guyanese diaspora in Canada. His death is a great loss to the Cabinet and people of Guyana.

The Cabinet recalled the sacrifices made by Minister Sawh and his family to return to Guyana from Canada to make his contribution to the betterment of all Guyanese. The Administration remains firmly committed to fulfilling that noble ideal of improving the living conditions of all our people.

With immediate effect, all flags at government and State buildings will be flown at half-mast. A day of national mourning will be announced as well as other arrangements to recognize the contributions of Minister Sawh.

The Cabinet expresses its deepest condolences to the wife, children, relatives and friends of Minister Sawh and others who were murdered.

The Cabinet thanks the many Guyanese and groups for their expressions of grief and words of comfort at this difficult time.    



A bullet hole in the window of the house opposite Minister Satyadeow Sawh's at La Bonne In-tention, East Coast Dem-erara after the attack. The assailants targeted the house and shot and injured its security guard. (Photo by Aubrey Crawford)

 

Several groups and organizations have condemned the assassination of Minister of Agriculture (ag) Satyadeow Sawh and others and called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.

In press releases issued yesterday, the Guyana Islamic Trust (GIT), the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU), the Justice for All Party (JFAP), the Indian Arrival Committee (IAC), the farming community of Region Two and fishermen and workers from various sections of the Agricultural Ministry and the Alliance for Change (AFC) also expressed condolences to the families of those slain.

The GIT called for Guyanese to allow the better sense of civility and humanity to prevail throughout the nation. "It is sad to witness the wanton destruction of life that threatens to become the norm in our courteous and peace-loving nation," GIT said.

The body also implored all Guyanese to pray for the protection of innocence and the safeguarding of life and property.

The GPSU called the attack vicious and added that it was most unfortunate and of grave concern that a person of Sawh's disposition was so brutally murdered.

"The union condemns such savage and ghastly acts and can only hope that the murderers are quickly brought to justice. All of us have been saddened...," GPSU added.

Coincidentally, GPSU had scheduled a special executive council meeting for yesterday to address the issue of crime in the Guyanese society.

After extensive discussions yesterday, the union decided to develop an action plan. GPSU President, Patrick Yarde said that among the things decided upon by GPSU were the need for better governance, the need for less interference in police operations and the need for a clear, scientific analysis of the root causes of criminal conduct in the society.

JFAP Leader CN Sharma called for increased security for government officials and political party leaders.

Sharma said the country was facing a new form of crime and this concern should be addressed.

On behalf of his party and family, Sharma extended condolences to the affected families and urged all Guyanese to come together at this time.

The IAC said, heavily-armed, politically driven assassins have taken the life of a hard-working Minister of Government who was also a staunch member of the Arya Samaj.

The IAC said Sawh made important contributions to Indian culture.

The farming community of Region Two, fishermen and workers from various sections of the Agricultural Ministry, stressed how close a friend the minister was to them and remembered him as being very down to earth.

"He was never too great to mix with residents young and old," a group of Pomeroon farmers said.

A senior regional official said the minister was a very polite but firm gentleman.

The AFC said the murders could have implications and repercussions at the national level beyond what any Guyanese could imagine and might also mean that the beginning of institutional collapse was closer than people thought.

But it is at this crossroad that Guyanese must show strength, the AFC said, "we must never fall prey to the intimidation and terror of those who want to bring our beloved country to its knees.

"What is needed at this time is that all Guyanese, regardless of political/ethnic persuasions, must commence to meaningfully participate in a process towards frontally addressing and finding remedies for this unprecedented negative development which has the potential to consume all," the party said.


The dignified manner in which Minister Satyadeow Sawh conducted himself in life was in stark contrast to the savage manner of his death.

Tears, shock, anger and outrage were among the initial reactions to his murder and that of his sister, brother and security guard AROUND 12:15 yesterday morning.

Mere minutes after a heavily-armed gang had left the minister's LBI home after unleashing their firepower on the occupants, the news swept through neighbouring villages, and eventually people began to congregate outside his home.

By around 3 am a sizable crowd of visibly affected neighbours and residents had assembled behind the police barrier, some of whom were personally acquainted with the Sawh family.

Initially, no one had confirmation about how many people had been killed and wounded, and whether the minister was numbered among the dead.

Why Minister Sawh? - residents, others ask

By Iana Seales

There was much speculation as to a possible motive, although almost everyone voiced the unanswerable question as to why Minister Sawh had been targeted, because he was such a nice man.

Minister of Health Leslie Ramsammy came to the home and then departed for the Georgetown Public Hospital where the three injured persons had been rushed. Medical Director of the hospital, Dr Madan Rambarran and Chief Executive Officer Michael Khan were also present. Like many others, Dr Ramsammy appeared perplexed and shocked about what had happened, every few minutes running his hand through his hair as he paced the hospital's compound or huddled with Dr Rambarran and others.

At the scene of the crime similar tense expressions could be seen on the many faces. Around 3.30 am the Prime Minister's wife Yvonne Hinds, tears streaming down her face, left the scene in the company of Permanent Secretary in the Office of the President Jennifer Webster, and others. Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce Manzoor Nadir and his wife also took their departure shortly after. Minister of Home Affairs, Gail Teixeira was also present.

As the vehicles moved out and others drove up there were sometimes loud gasps from the newcomers who could not contain their feelings of shock.

But while there was shock and grief there was also great tension among the gathering. This almost boiled over shortly after Commissioner of Police Winston Felix had given a brief comment to the media during which he said there had been initial reports that money was demanded.

This revelation did not go down well with some of the persons present, one of whom had to be physically restrained from accosting the commissioner. Felix had his back to the individual and was not aware of what had transpired.

Additional fuel was added by one member of the media, who used expletives as he attempted to get hold of a colleague. After his departure with two government functionaries, some amount of calm returned.

It was around 4.35 am when employees from the Lyken Funeral Home arrived and about 20 minutes later they left with two bodies while family members could be heard sobbing in the background.

About one hour after this the two remaining bodies, one of them of the security guard who was lying next to the fence in the yard, were removed from the scene.

As the sun peeked over the horizon, droves of persons came from around the neighbourhood, and there heated words were exchanged by some of the onlookers.

Around this time, the minister's younger son could be seen greeting and hugging relatives and friends who had turned up to sympathise.

Around 7 am, a woman broke the relative quiet that had settled at the scene following the removal of the bodies. Barefoot and wailing, she cried out, "Ow me minister, is why deh kill you? You was like a father to me, ow why you dead? Is only yesterday me went to you minister and you help me.

Who I guh go to now?" Thereupon she rushed through the police barrier and into the yard where she continued her lament for about five minutes before being calmed down.

Around minutes to eight, the police removed the barrier allowing friends and relatives easier access to the yard.

However, the gates were closed to the media.


Minister Sawh’s funeral to take place Tuesday

Georgetown, GINA, April 23, 2006

The Government of Guyana will be paying official tribute to the late Minister of Fisheries, Other Crops and Livestock and Acting Minister of Agriculture, Honourable Satyadeow Sawh during a ceremony on the lawns of Castellani House, Vlissengen Road at 9:30 hrs on Tuesday, April 25, 2006.

Before the official tribute, the People’s Progressive Party’s (PPP’s) will pay tribute to the departed ‘son of the soil’ at Freedom House, Robb Street, Georgetown at 8:30 hrs the same day.

The funeral service for the late Minister will subsequently take place at his residence, Earl’s Court, La Bonne Intention (LBI), Lusignan at 11:30 hrs, following which he will be cremated at the Good Hope cremation site, East Coast Demerara.

Minister Sawh was assassinated on April 22 at around 12:45 a.m. During the attack, the Minister’s brother, sister and a security guard were also killed. Two other security guards were also shot and are receiving medical attention at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC). One of the guards remains in critical condition.

Another brother of the Minister was injured during the attack on the family, while the Minister’s wife escaped unhurt.

The Government has declared Tuesday, April 25, a Day of National Mourning in honour of the Minister. It is expected that all flags on Government buildings will be flown at half mass and appropriate music and programming are expected from various media outlets.

42 murders in three months… 24 execution-style killings, few solved

Kaieteur News - April 23rd.2006

More then half of the people who were murdered in Guyana this year were victims of execution-style killings, and few of these cases have been solved.

Statistics compiled by Kaieteur News show that between January and April 22 this year 42 people have been murdered in Guyana . Twenty-four of the victims were gunned down execution-style.

The statistics show that police have charged very few suspects in connection with this category of murder. But these officials say they have ballistic and other evidence which have given them an idea who some of the killers are.

Killings of this nature occurred mainly in central and Greater Georgetown , and on the East Bank of Demerara.

The statistics also show that 11 people were killed during altercations (one man was stabbed to death during a domestic dispute), while seven were slain by bandits.

Kaieteur News statistics showed that only nine of the 42 murder cases have been solved. Almost invariably the arrests occurred when the suspects were immediately identified.

The pattern of brutal killings began on January 30 when gunmen riddled television personality Ronald Waddell with bullets just as he was about to drive into his Subryanville home.

Six days later taxi driver Christopher St. Hill, called ‘Ninety', was found lying in his car just off the Turkeyen Public Road, East Coast Demerara. He had been shot in the head and other parts of the body.

Then on February 26, a small army of gunmen, operating with military precision, slaughtered eight people in Eccles and Agricola.

Among the killed were an elderly couple, who were shot and then burnt in their beds, and 32-year-old City Hall Assistant Town Clerk Laverne Garraway-Scott, who was shot in her Third Street , Agricola residence and then set alight.

On March 12, Devon Cambridge, an 18-year-old from Mc Doom, East Bank Demerara, was found in a trench in D'Urban Backlands. His hands were bound behind his back and his body bore several gunshot wounds .

Six days later a group of gunmen, believed to be from the same gang which orchestrated the Agricola/Eccles massacre, stormed a house at Mc Doom. When they finally left, 12-year-old Kevin Brown lay dead from a shotgun blast to the abdomen, while his mother was shot in her upper left side.

Also in April, SA Nabi and Sons Managing Director Ashim Sheer Mohamed was shot dead by a lone gunman in a car. At the time, Sheer Mohamed sitting in his pickup, which was parked in the North Ruimveldt Multilateral School compound.

And yesterday, when it seemed that things could not get any worse, a group of gunmen executed Minister of Agriculture Satyadeow Sawh, his brother, Rajpat Rai, a sister, Phulmattie Persaud, and a security guard.

Relatives of those slain in execution-style killings say they have little optimism that the perpetrators would be brought to justice. Some of them, like Bonita Harris, believe that the police lack the will to tackle crimes of this magnitude.

Relatives of other victims admit that they know the perpetrators, but are too fearful to contact the police.

Police on the other hand blame the lack of resources, compounded by their inability to persuade people to identify suspects.

“People don't come forward. They are fearful as to who is next. I hope that the Crime Stoppers Programme will materalise.”

 

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