Harassment against women activists
The period of May to July saw several protests erupting across Guyana as citizens and groups challenged decisions and state institutions. During this period, two major incidents rocked the South American nation: a fire that killed 20 young people and a rape allegation that saw the resignation of a government minister.
Over the last few months, Red Thread Women’s Organization in Guyana has received a number of threatening emails; the most recent was sent in August. According to reports, citizens and human rights organisations had issued letters of support.
Global Voices highlighted the growing threats towards women activists in Guyana. It pointed out that Red Thread has been staging monthly protests outside the Office of the President to raise awareness about some of the key clauses in the country's oil contracts with ExxonMobil. The group has also been very vocal in calling for the resignation of Local Government and Regional Development Minister Nigel Dharamlall, who has been accused of raping a 16-year-old Indigenous girl.
In May 2023, The Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) picketed outside the Ministries of Finance and Education over the absence of a multi-year agreement with the government. The GTU was joined by teachers who had demanded that the government, through the education ministry, address a range of issues with the union. These include but were not limited to an increase in teachers’ salaries, vacation and other allowances.
Hill Foot protest
Several people were shot with rubber bullets and injured by police after they resisted the forced removal from lands at Hill Foot on the Soesdyke-Linden Highway. The issue has its genesis in a court order for the eviction of the residents. As a form of protest, residents blocked the road and set tyres alight. This led to a confrontation with police officers which saw several persons being shot and injured and two officers being assaulted. The police also arrested some of the protesters.
As the protest continued into a second day, protesters continued to block the roadway as their homes were being bulldozed. This saw the government distancing itself from any action related to the removal of the residents.
Over the weeks, the displaced residents continued to picket, calling on the government to assist them with housing. By the end of June, the displaced residents picketed outside the Ministry of Housing and Water, accusing the government of foot dragging on several issues including promises to find homes for them.
Protests calling for Minister’s resignation
Protests erupted across Georgetown as several groups and activists called for charges to be brought against Local Government Minister Nigel Dharamlall. Dharamlall was accused of the rape and sodomy of a 16-year-old indigenous student. Dharamlall, an executive member of the ruling People’s Progressive Party (PPP), went on leave and was subsequently arrested and placed on bail of one million dollars.
Police later indicated that the victim reportedly no longer wished to proceed with the matter. A few weeks later, the minister resigned.
Protest following Mahdia Fire
A deadly fire in a remote mining town in Guyana prompted several persons to protest, including relatives of the deceased, calling for compensation among other demands. 20 children lost their lives in a fire at the Mahdia School dormitory in May. It is alleged that the fire was intentionally set, and one teenage girl has since been charged with 20 counts of murder. Days after the fire, residents in the remote village of Chenapou picketed as they called for support and justice as well as for the authorities to address safety at school dorms.
Residents protest the Vice President’s visit following demolition of stalls
Removal of vendors from the Plasiance Railway Embankment sparked a protest as Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo visited the community to meet with residents. Vendors were being removed from the road by the Public Works Ministry. Vendors, along with residents of the village, held placards and chanted as the Vice President and several ministers visited the area for a community meeting.
#Grassrootswomen body Red Thread protest close to State House where President Ali is meeting Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The body is calling for Former Minister Nigel Dharamlall to be charged following rape allegations made by an indigenous girl. pic.twitter.com/EGY2R5Z7Ty— Nazima Raghubir (@nazrag) July 6, 2023
In July 2023, the Guyana Press Association criticised the lack of adequate press engagements with the Mohamed Irfaan Ali led government following a Presidential press conference where questions from journalists were limited.