The fifteen Rose Hall Estate sugar workers, who were slain 106 years ago, were this morning remembered for their boldness, during a small commemorative and wreath-laying ceremony, held at the Monument Site, Rose Hall, East Canje, Berbice.
A moment of silence was observed at the ceremony to honour the workers. The ceremony, which opened with the Universal Prayer by Berbice High School (BHS) student, Angelique Adams, was chaired by Senior teacher of BHS, Sharmaine Michael-Caesar.
Acting in the capacity of Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge delivered the feature address. He highlighted the contrast between the history of sugar and the bitter experiences of those who made the production and distribution of sugar possible.
“I think we can all agree that the struggle of these 15 Guyanese who died on the 13 of March 1913, was a struggle that ultimately resulted in better conditions, better pay and respect for the rights of workers. Not only in Rose Hall, not only those who were in the fields of Rose Hall, but workers across Guyana.”
Minister Greenidge further underscored the agony endured by the indentured labourers and the bravery they possessed. He noted that the Rose Hall Martyrs Memorial monument is a reminder to future generations of the necessary sacrifices if freedom is to be achieved.
“We must remember the Rose Hall Martyrs who endured unimaginable hardships and we must be inspired by their sacrifices.”
According to the minister, compared to previous years ago, it is evident that Guyana has witnessed the emerging of new opportunities and industries, which will bring about transformational change.
The ceremony also saw the attendance of several notable persons including Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan, Minister within the Ministry of Public Health, Dr. Karen Cummings, Minister within the Ministry of Finance, Jaipaul Sharma, Minister of Social Protection, with responsibility for Labour, Keith Scott, Regional Chairman of East Berbice- Corentyne, David Armogan and Mayor of New Amsterdam, Winifred Heywood.
On March 13, 1913, the 15 Martyrs were shot by several colonial police, after they refused to adhere to an order from the plantation’s manager, to perform duties on days granted to them as holidays. During the ordeal, over 50 other workers received injuries.
The murdered labourers are Motey Khan 26, Badri 26, Lalji 45, Durga 72, Sadulla 23, Bholay 33, Hulas 25, Sarjoo 21, Jugai 30, Nibur 75, Sohan 33, Gafur 27, Juggoo 37, Roopan 25 and the lone female, Gobindei, 32.
Story by Kellon Rover
Images: Kennyann Bacchus
_DSC0784 – Wreaths to lie at the Rose Hall Martyrs Memorial monument
_DSC0791 – Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge addressing the gathering
_DSC0794 – Family of the slain workers at the memorial