Bishop killers barred from service
ST GEORGE’S, Grenada – Twenty seven years after murdering left wing prime minister Maurice Bishop and other members of his cabinet, the 17 convicted persons were today barred from attending a memorial service in his honour and those killed.
Among those prevented from attending the service were former deputy prime minister Bernard Coard, the former general of the People’s Revolutionary Army (PRG) Hudson Austin and the ex-mobilisation minister Selwyn Starchan.
The three were among the group of men released by the High Court last year after serving 26 years of the life imprisonment that had been imposed on them.
The October 19th Martyrs’ Foundation, the organization spearheading the annual event in memory of those killed during the palace coup that ended the first English-speaking Caribbean island brief flirtation with a government that came to power by the bullet rather than the ballot, said those convicted of slaying Bishop and his ministers were not welcome since many affected families had not forgiven them.
“They are not welcomed and also the people who are associated with them. People are still in deep pain,” said Peggy Nesfield, Chairperson of the October 19th Martyrs Foundation.
“A lot of people have gone into alcohol and drugs (there are) a lot oft psychological effects. So we do not want them to come. It would be uncomfortable for the families and people who have not forgiven as yet,” she added.
Bishop and several members of his cabinet were lined up against a wall and executed by PRG soldiers at the height of a power struggle between himself and Coard in October 1983.
The events of October 19 led to the eventual military invasion of the Spice Isle by American and Caribbean forces on October 25.
“Maybe it’s something like building the mosque at ground zero. We have to take responsibility for what we have done. They have not. They are still blaming other people. They are the only ones who have been asked not to come,” said Nesfield.
“We said it in different forms so I think they know and they should know that they should not come because they know people are still in pain and grieving and hurting so I don’t think that we have to send to tell them”.
The former Point Salines International Airport, located at the southern tip of the island, now carries the name of Maurice Bishop who led his New Jewel Movement (NJM) into government by overthrowing the then Sir Eric Gairy government in March 1979.
Strachan, who studied to become an attorney during his incarceration, now works with a local law firm.
“Some of them are not quite ready as yet and I understand that” said the former convict.
“I would like to be there and I want to be there but given the sensitivity of the whole issue I don’t think it will be wise for me to be there just yet”.
Since their release from the Richmond Hill prison, many of the 17, say they have been accepted back into society.
Coard is currently writing his memoirs and Austin has been contracted by the State to continue his work of rebuilding the prison. (CMC)