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PM rejects offer to join Human Rights Association’s prayer and peace rally

PM rejects offer  to join Human Rights Association’s prayer and peace rally

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Following a request from the SVG Human Rights Association (SVGHRA) to join in leading a prayer and peace rally to mark the death of Edgar Cruickshank, the Prime Minister has declined – referring to it as “politically contrived” and “inapproriate”.

Whilst speaking {{more}}on his weekly ‘Parliamentary Question Time – Ask The Prime Minister’ radio programmeon Thursday, December 11, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said that he has no intention of attending the proposed rally, which is scheduled to be held on December 19 at the Clare Valley hard court.

“I have no intention to add to the unwarranted hysteria by some to join or lead any peace rally, which is proposed consequent on a traffic accident,” he asserted.

Instead, the Prime Minister said that he is interested in the “process of healing” which involves the deceased’s wife, family and friends.

Gonsalves explained that he had received a letter from president of the SVG Human Rights Association Nicole Sylvester, dated December 10, requesting his presence at the event in his capacity as Prime Minister.

The SVGHRA in a release issued last week said, “We are calling on the Prime Minister, Hon Ralph E Gonsalves, the Leader of the Opposition, Hon Arnhim Eustace, political leader of the Green Party, Ivan O’Neal and political leader, Anesia Baptiste to join us in leading this prayer and peace rally.”

The association expressed deep concern for the events which took place on [December 6 at Clare Valley] and is of the view that “a prayer and peace rally in solemn acknowledgement of the life of Edgar Cruickshank and in support of the other persons who were injured in the incident, will offer a way to healing for the many persons affected by the events.”

The release also invited members of the Clare Valley community and other communities throughout the island to be a part of the event.

In his written response to the association’s president, the Prime Minister “regretfully” declined, explaining that in his experience, prayer rallies are usually initiated by the SVG Christian Council or a church – and he was not aware that the SVGHRA was “in the business of sponsoring prayer rallies.”

The letter outlined: “That is the sensible practice which we have followed in St Vincent and the Grenadines over the years. Such a practice avoids, possibly, opportunistic summons to prayer by persons not known to possess prophetic voices.”

In reference to the peace aspect of the rally, the Prime Minister’s letter continued: “I am at a loss as to understand properly its circumstance and purpose. As far as I am aware, there is no war which has arisen as a consequence of the unfortunate motor-vehicle accident at Clare Valley.”

The Prime Minister, however, did note that he was aware that the Opposition New Democratic Party and some of its followers who “operate under diverse guises” have been stirring up fear and alarm among the public with false statements and rumours.

Gonsalves also said that he himself is still in mourning as he and Clare Valley resident Edgar Cruickshank had been close friends for over 30 years.

Copies of the letter to Nicole Sylvester, were also sent to the deceased’s widow Cecelia Cruick­shank and the SVG Christian Council.

On December 6, 2014, Edgar Cruickshank (along with others) was struck by a vehicle whilst attending an NDP public meeting in Clare Valley. He succumbed to his injuries the following morning. (JSV)

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