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Guyana's Agricultural Minister Murdered


TRIBE Member

Three Indians murdered in Guyana

Indo-Asian News Service

Georgetown, April 24, 2006

Guyana's Agriculture Minister Satayadeo Sawh, a person of Indian origin, was brutally murdered along with two other members of his family early on Sunday.

Sawh, along with his brother Rajpat Sawh, sister Pulmatie Persaud and security guard Curtis Robertson, was killed in a midnight attack by six masked gunmen at Sawh's residence in Earl's Court, La Bonne Intention, at East Coast Demerara.

The brutal assassination has evoked shock and condemnation across the Caribbean nations, especially among people of Indian origin (PIOs).

Indo-Guyanese constitutes 50 per cent of Guyana's population of over 760,000.

According to media reports, the armed gunmen who stormed the Indo-Guyanese minister's home, demanded cash and jewellery.

Omprakash, one of the slain minister's brothers handed out G$23,000, an amount lesser than what was demanded.

Vehemently condemning the killing of Sawh, Guyana's President Bharrat Jagdeo said, "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."

The Guyana government has declared Tuesday, April 25 - a day of national mourning.

Though no arrest has been made as yet, Guyana police chief Winston Felix said that his officers have got some leads.

Born on June 13, 1955, in central Mahaicony, Region Five, in Guyana, Sawh grew up in a farming community.

At the request of the late Guyanese president Cheddi Jagan, Sawh had based himself in Canada to work for the cause of the People's Progressive Party (PPP) in Canada, as the party's representative there. He was also a member of the Association of Concerned Guyanese (ACG).

After his return to Guyana in 1992, he was appointed as Guyana's ambassador to Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador. For his diplomatic services, he was awarded the Order of Francesco Miranda of Venezuela and received several community awards in both Venezuela and Colombia.

In 1996, he was made minister for fisheries, crops and livestock. In 2003, he was also given the additional responsibility of agriculture, a post he held till his death.

He leaves behind his wife, Satti Sawh, and two sons, David and Roger.


from the Star:

Canadian citizens shot in Guyana

Family in Toronto believes minister's attack was political
Apr. 23, 2006. 01:00 AM

Guyana's agriculture minister and his two siblings, all Canadian citizens, were shot to death yesterday by gunmen who burst into his home, authorities said.

The assailants were given the money and jewellery they demanded but still shot Agriculture Minister Satyadeo Sawh to death, according to his wife, Sattie, who said she survived by hiding in washroom cupboards in their coastal home.

"She hid there and heard everyone pleading for their lives," said Roger Persaud, 24, Satyadeo's nephew in Toronto. He said the family had gathered in Guyana to commemorate the first death anniversary of Satyadeo's mother.

Satyadeo Sawh, 50, and his wife, both Canadian citizens, returned to Guyana in the early 1990s. He came back to join the successful campaign of the governing People's Progressive party, which came to power in 1992, and was named a cabinet minister that year.

"He was the strongest voice of all the ministers," said Persaud. "He took time to learn new things and go back and implement them," he said of his slain uncle, a former political science student at the University of Toronto and a former ambassador of Guyana to Venezuela.

Also slain in the attack were Phulmattie (Julie) Persaud, Satyadeo's sister and an employee of Scotiabank in Toronto, and Rajpatrai Sawh, his brother. A security guard was also killed. Another of Satyadeo's brothers was hospitalized for a gunshot wound.

Satyadeo is survived by two sons, one of whom is a political science and business student at University of Toronto. No arrests had been made late yesterday, but tracking dogs were searching sugar-cane fields surrounding the house where the gunmen were believed to have hidden before the attack, said police chief Winston Felix.

Forensic evidence shows the gunmen — whom neighbours and witnesses said numbered about seven and wore black clothing — used rifles, Felix said.

However, shocked family members in Toronto say they have reason to believe it was politically motivated.

"This is an assassination. They shot anything that moved," said Persaud. "No one comes to rob a house with so many people and shoots the dogs and the security agents."

The slayings come amid a rise in violent crime and political uncertainty over upcoming elections, which were scheduled for Aug. 4 but were recently postponed to give electoral authorities more time to prepare for balloting. A new date has not yet been set.

"It's a never-ending problem," said Persaud. "The reason we're all here is because of the violence there. No one has stepped up and now it's too late."

Sattie Sawh said she doesn't know if she "will pack up and leave. I came to Guyana because I like my country."

Felix said that the motive appeared to be robbery and that police were stepping up security for cabinet ministers and other high-profile people. President Bharrat Jagdeo called an emergency cabinet meeting following news of the killings.

With files from the Associated Press

This is the family of one of my co-workers - the sister to the minister was my co-worker's mother

this makes me so sad
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