GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Monday March 9, 2020 – An 18-year-old who was among a crowd of people protesting alleged fraud in the recent general and regional elections was fatally shot by police while attacking lawmen with a cutlass, the Guyana Police Force (GPF) said.
Sewdat ‘Devon’ Hansraj of Back Street Cotton Tree Village, in the rural West Coast Berbice region, was among hundreds of people who had taken to the streets in his community last Friday to demonstrate against the move to declare results from Region Four from the March 2 polls.
In a statement issued the following day, police said it was after clearing barricades set up on Cotton Tree Public Road that officers had come under attack by a group of men armed with cutlasses, wood and pieces of iron.
According to the GPF, the police discharged their weapons in the air to disperse “the very hostile and aggressive crowd” around 7:40 p.m., but when their bullets were expended they had to seek refuge from the crowd and it was during that time that Hansraj chopped two officers. The teen was subsequently shot by another policeman.
The injured officers and civilian were taken to the New Amsterdam Hospital where Hansraj was pronounced dead on arrival.
The GPF said yesterday that five officers injured in violent protests in the country were recovering and receiving counselling.
Meantime, police have issued a stern warning to protesters not to engage in unlawful acts.
They said that while they have maintained a posture of restraint, the actions of protesters have led to injuries to lawmen and damage to private and State property, and several children have also sustained minor injuries.
“The Force respects the inalienable rights of citizens, visitors and inhabitants of the State of Guyana to engage in peaceful demonstration on issues of concern to them,” the GPF said, but stressed that “when protest activities degenerate into public disorder, infringing on the rights of other citizens and putting the protection of life and the safeguard of property at risk, the Guyana Police Force will as a consequence, take appropriate and condign action against all offenders”.