Hill Foot residents continue protest over demolition of homes; Government distances self from “private” matter

Hill Foot residents continue protest over demolition of homes; Government distances self from “private” matter

Residents of Hill Foot on the Soesdyke-Linden Highway clashed with the Joint Services for a second day today, as they launched a fiery protest in response to the demolition of their homes.

The protest saw residents blocking sections of the highway with debris, and setting fire to tyres and pieces of wood.

The demolition was reportedly carried out by a private developer who owns the land and want the squatters off.  The Police said a Court order was secured to get the squatters off the land.

But persons became incensed as a demolition crew moved into the community on Wednesday and started to mow down the wooden houses, leading to the protests.

Today, the affected residents told reporters that they were forcibly removed from their homes by the police, and were made to watch helplessly as their homes were bulldozed, leaving them homeless.

One resident told reporters, that she was in her home, when the police swarmed it, and later overlooked its demolition.  

“If you see how the police bulldozing you out of your house. Mr Davis was orchestrating it. If you see them, you can’t go in to pack up your things them. When you check, this missing, that missing, that missing. One of the police come, he tear-off his shirt to come and fight my son because the boy said don’t break up he mother things,” the woman recounted. 

According to the woman, she took up residence in the area more than one year ago.

In tears, another resident told reporters, all of her life’s earnings were destroyed.  

“This is tears, because you know why? We worked hard for we stuff, and they didn’t had to do we this. This is now right. This is not right, and we made sacrifice to come and build. Where are we going to go? Where are we going to go? Yesterday, I came and I see the babies in the grass. This is unfair. These people ain’t got a heart?” she questioned as she told reporters of her frustration.

Some residents said the situation has left parents trying to figure our their next move.

“Their parents can’t even provide for them now. The children cannot go to school. The children cannot go to school today, look at all these children. For the night, the children ain’t sleep. Everybody is now asking what next. This country is now getting from bad to worse. Mr President we are humans, we are humans, we are not animals, we are Guyanese,” another resident said.

While the Government has sought to distance itself from what it called a private matter, the Opposition APNU noted that agents of the state were used to overlook the displacement of citizens in a crude manner, and that cannot be ignored. 

“What is more saddening, is that the regime is prepared to arm the Guyana Police Force, and use the force against the people of Guyana, rather than address the real challenges that the mass of people. The destruction of people’s properties by the regime, and its friends, family and favourites, is unacceptable and must be condemned all,” APNU’s Elson Lowe told reporters today.

In a separate statement, APNU+AFC Member of Parliament, Geeta Chandan-Edmond, who holds responsibility for Public Security, said the incident was regrettable, as she too condemned the actions of the police.

“The actions taken by members of the Guyana Police Force represents a wanton disregard for human rights and restraint. Allegations of policemen seeking to physically handle female citizens and police storming homes of residents must be condemned and subsequently investigated,” MP Chandan-Edmond said.

She said the police continue to use archaic methods to advance law enforcement in clear violation of basic freedoms.

But the Government, in firing back, said it was not responsible for demolition exercise, explaining that there has been an ongoing dispute between the squatters and the owner of the property, Lawrence Almeem.

It said following a civil Court ruling, the landowner demolished one of the structures on the land on Wednesday.

However, though not addressing the actions of the police, the Government urged residents of Hill Foot to desist from blocking the highway. It said remains committed to fast-tracking processing of land applications for the affected residents. (Svetlana Marshall)

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