Peaceful protests undertaken in defence of rights in Guyana
Various peaceful demonstrations were recently held in Guyana, including several against the strict dress codes that restrict the entrance to government offices throughout the country. One such protest was staged outside of the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court by six activists who argued that these dress codes were not just impractical but also politically backwards, reflecting colonial and patriarchal values and impacting particularly on women. Previous protest actions had been held outside of the Land Registry and the Office of the First Lady. The protesters further made note of the fact that officials at the Land Registry barred them from taking photographs of the dress code rules.
Another protest involved around 30 people who demonstrated in support of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) outside of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) on 13th October. Protestors marched to call for the resignation of the GECOM Chairman. This was one of many protests spanning the course of a year and was aimed at mobilising and creating public awareness around the situation of the party, which filed an election petition with the High Court calling for a total recount of the ballots in 2015. It has not yet received a response. PPP supporters have held protests almost every month and government officials continue to only engage them in meetings to discuss their concerns but, accordingly to party members, have “blatantly refused to put anything in writing.”
In another instance, about 100 workers and their union representatives participated in a protest led by the president of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU). The union contested the plan by the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) to merge two companies, La Borne Intention and Enmore Estates, which it considers to be detrimental to workers' salaries and work conditions. According to GAWU president Komal Chand:
“We cannot allow this situation go on like this…we are looking forward to immediate discussions between the Union and GuySuCo to address the issues where they are violating even the law, not only the agreement, in the forceful nature of the merger of LBI with Enmore.”