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Before knowing about Wismar Massacre, have you ever heard of Guyana? It is a country in South America, bordered by Brazil, Suriname and Venezuela. Spread over an area of 83,000 square miles, Guyana has a population of approximately 750 thousand (7.5 Lakh). 43 percent of population is formed by people of East Indian ancestry (Indo-Guyanese), followed by Afro-Guyanese ancestry who form about 30 % of the population.
Wismar is a locality in Guyana.
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Wismar massacre culminated on the day of 26th May, 1964. This date is special for the people of Guyana, as it is celebrated by them as the Guyana Independence day. Though there is another side to this coin, rather a dark one. Something which was kept well-hidden, for almost four decades, in the archives of the Guyana Government and also in the minds of the Indo-Guyanese.
Yes, the side which denotes the day of the Wismar massacre. A day when more than 3000 Indo-Guyanese where murdered, severely injured, burned and raped by 18000 of the African population. An incidence, which the African government continue to deny.
This article is constructed by garnering and processing through the sources available on the internet. Especially from the blog known as Guyana under Siege. In the blog, one will find the Wismar Report prepared back in the days of 1964 under the order of the then British Guiana governor, Sir Richard Luyt.
The surprising part is that the report saw the light of the day as late as 2004 and was published by GNI Publications. It took special effort of Dr. Odeen Ismael, who was the former historian-ambassador for the government of People’s Progress Party, though the report is only available online.
Another thing is that one will not be able to secure much resource on the topic, no matter how much they trawl through the cyber world. Perhaps, it is not as astonishing as it sounds after all the histories are always written by the victorious ones.
How? One will ask.
Because sometimes battles are won and sometimes they are not. And the one who lose, do not often get to tell their side of the tale.
The Wismar Massacre
Wismar and Christianburg were the villages where the bauxite mining communities used to live, surrounding the region of the upper Demarara River. It was mixed community where both the members of the Indo-Guyanese and African-Guyanese used to reside. With the population for the Afro-Guyanese being as high as 90%.
Unrest started growing up in the month of May, 1964 around the areas of Wismar, Christianburg and Mackenzie. The workers in the sugar industries started holding strikes, demanding the recognition of the workers as bargaining agents. And it is known that the strikes were initiated by Guyana Agricultural Workers Union (G.AW.U).
The committee who were responsible for the preparation of the Wismar Report regarded these strikes as essential to include in their report because the participants in those strikes were segregated as East-Indians who mostly supported People’s Progress Party by Dr. Cheddi B. Jagan, whereas the African majority were on the side of People’s National Congress of Mr. Forbes Burnham. Therefore, indicating a racial as well as a political tension.
While in the beginning the strikes were of a more peaceful nature, it did evolved into a violent one as clashes started between the strikers and the non-strikers, with the Africans being employed as the strike breakers. Some people were killed incidentally and both the sides claim them as their very own ‘martyrs’.
Later these clashes intensified into a pandemonium which took part in the greater portions of the East and the West coasts of Demerara. On 21st May, an African couple, were killed when a bomb hit their house. After that the situation went out of hand and a state of emergency was declared after three days.
The massacre in the Wismar-Chistianburg and Mackenzie area lasted for a total of 38 hours; between 24th May, Sunday to 26th May, Tuesday – 1964.
According to the committee, over 230 Indo-Guyanese homes and houses were destroyed, a person was even set on fire. Mr. Ramajjattan, a supporter of the PPP was found decapitated and a 15-year old girl was raped and apart from receiving physical injuries, went through a terrible mental shock. The thing is that these are just some of the instances mentioned among hundreds which have gone uncounted. The Africans who took part in the violence entered into the houses of the Indians hitting and molesting them while they shouted “kill de coolies”.
The people, who managed to escape from their villages, remained hidden in the forests nearby. Unfortunately, the African mob followed them are hunted them down like animals. In the process over 1500 people became homeless.
In the following days of 26th, 27th and 28th May, more than 500 of the Indo-Guyanese came out from their hidings in the forest and were taken to the refugee camps in Georgetown.
Two river streamers were commissioned by the government to take the first batch of the Indo-Guyanese to Georgetown where the Africans pelted them with bricks, jeered and used shabby language at them, on their arrival. About 300 of the total number of Indians found shelters with their relatives while the rest had to sleep on the concrete floor of the pier warehouse.
Seventy-five members of the Mackenzie Police and Volunteer force, who were all Africans, did not take any step to prevent the massacre. Even some of them were found to have themselves being part of the looting, beating and killing of the Indo-Guyanese. The volunteers did not help in any way to stop two women from being raped and they were ultimately saved by the members of DEMBA. In other instance, a young East-Indian was shot when he refused to go by their command.
The committee for the Wismar report, concluded that the disturbances were politically and racially inspired and that it was be said to be a pre-planned massacre.
Aftermath to the present
As mentioned by the committee themselves, hardly anything was done by the Police and Volunteer force and the British troops arrived late in the evening when all over 3000 Indians were evacuated and most of them were re-settled in the coastal areas.
Whereas, on 6th July in the same year a passenger launch named the Sun Champ which was en route from Georgetown to Mackenzie was hit by a huge explosion killing about 36 Afro-Guyanese. This incident was assumed by some Africans, to have the hands of East-Indians behind it. They became enraged and attacked the community, injuring many and killing about 5 people.
Mrs. Janet Jagan, who was then the Minister of Home Affairs resigned from her position concerning the atrocities that has been done. She stated of the non-corporation from the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Owen, who did not follow her orders that were given early on 25th May for reinforcement and the dispatching of the British troops to the areas for the protection of life and property.
In the contemporary times, as mentioned by Rakesh Rampertab, editor of the blog, Guyanese under Siege, mentions a quote where it is cited that the descendants of the Indo-Guyanese people who were involved in the massacre refused to even pass on the information to the other generations either vocally or as a written record.
Though not every part, of it is true. In the recent era some of the people have been seen to write to the newspapers demanding the reimbursement or the compensation to the victims who have gone through such violent times. They want the African government to confess and open up the files on the massacre which have been a well-guarded secret for so many years.
Rampertab, also talks about how Mackenzie was renamed to Linden by Burnham. He cited that Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham, named the town after himself to mark it as his greatest political victory. He intended to stamp the massacre and show off his superiority. Burnham also made 26th May, 1966 as the Independence Day for Guyana. In reality, he wanted to register his own name on the massacre and sent a message to anyone from the Indo-Guyanese community who will dare to challenge him, will receive the same fate as that of the Wismar massacre. It is further mentioned that the whole event was used as a tool of racial violence by Burnham’s PNC and Peter D’ Aguiar’s UF to bring down Dr. Jagan’s PPP, exactly when it was at its zenith.
Therefore, the quote from Mr. Raymond Ali might perhaps ring as true in one’s ear:
“The massacre of Indo-Guyanese in Wismar and Christianburg has remained a well-hidden and well-guarded secret. Not only have Guyanese failed to record and seriously document part of our history but also the older generation of Indo-Guyanese have not passed on this information even orally. Up to today there is no accurate figures on the number of Indo-Guyanese that died during the Wismar massacre”.
Written By: Annesha Das Gupta
By- Harris Scott
Business owners hardly have time to look into all aspects of a business operation, and accounting is one aspect. While small business owners might invest some time handling accounting services, it is indeed a big waste for owners of major enterprises. Regardless of the size of the business, your organization needs someone to look after the ledger.
Hiring an Accountant for your Firm - Things to Consider
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Since the 7th of December 1949, the Armed Forces Flag Day has been observed in India, annually. This one day is dedicated towards collection of funds from the citizens of India for the welfare of the ‘Indian Armed Forces personnel’. It has become a tradition to pay respect to the people who have served in the army, Navy and Airforce, on this day.
“The idea behind observing a Flag Day was to distribute small flags to the general population and in return collect donations.” The color-scheme of the flag is very similar to the ones used by fellow Commonwealth members like Cyprus, Kenya and Nigeria. The Flag Day signifies that it is the responsibility of the citizens of India to take care of the families and dependents of the armed forces personnel who fight for the country.
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A need for such a day was realized by the Government after India gained Independence from the British rule. In order to manage the welfare of its defence personnel, the Defence Minister of India and a committee together decided to recognize 7th December as the Flag Day. This decision was taken on the 28th of August 1949.
The then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru inaugurated the day saying that,
“A few weeks ago, I visited Indo-China and saw our officers and men attached to the International Commission there. It gave me a thrill to see their smart bearing and the good work they were doing in that distant land. What pleased me still more was their general popularity with the people there. By their efficiency as well as their friendliness, they enhanced the reputation of India. Among them were people from all parts of India. They observed no provincial or other differences amongst themselves. I am sure my countrymen will be pleased to learn of them and would like to indicate their appreciation of these young men who serve our country both here and elsewhere so well. A way to indicate that appreciation is to contribute to the Flag Day Fund.”
A need for such a day was realized by the Government after India gained Independence from the British rule.Unsplash
The fund is collected through official and non-official means with the help of voluntary organizations. The Kendriya Sainik Board, which is under the Ministry of Defence, arranges for the collection of the fund.
The Defence Ministry of India decided to integrate all the related welfare funds into a single unit called the Armed Forces Flag Day fund. The funds that were integrated are:
- Amalgamated Special Fund for War Bereaved, War Disabled and other ex-Servicemen/Serving Personnel
- Flag Day Fund
- St Dunstan's (India) and Kendriya Sainik Board Fund
- Indian Gorkha Ex-Servicemen's Welfare Fund
The Flag Day signifies that it is the responsibility of the citizens of India to take care of the families and dependents of the armed forces personnel who fight for the country.Unsplash
Problems have to be resolved by and welfare of the ex-servicemen and dependents are mostly settled by the States and the Union Territories, although it was to be a shared responsibility between the Union Government, the State Governments and the governments of the Union Territories. In order to help the Central Government in carrying out this process, there are 32 Rajya Sainik Boards and 392 Zila Sainik Boards. The Kendriya Sainik Board, the Rajya Sainik Board and the Zila Sainik Board are all responsible for the policy formulation and implementation of resettlement and welfare schemes for ex-servicemen, widows and their dependents residing in their respective States or Union Territories or Districts.(Keywords : armed, forces, flag, india, independance, donation, citizen, army, navy, airforce, tradition, respect, government, state, center, union territory, district, funds.)
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A large majority of Indians seem convinced that social media is responsible for the increased gulf between the Hindu and Muslim communities in the country.
This was revealed by a nationwide poll conducted by IANS-CVoter with a sample size of 1942 using random sampling on December 5, one day before the beginning of the 30th anniversary of the demolition of Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992.
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Close to half the respondents surveyed, 48.2 per cent to be precise felt that social media had increased the gulf between the communities to a large extent.
About 23 per cent of the respondents felt that social media had increased the gulf to some extent. In effect, more than 71 per cent Indians hold social media responsible for the recent friction between the two communities.
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In contrast, 28.6 per cent were of the opinion that social media had no role to play in this phenomenon. If you look at political divides, 40.7 per cent of NDA voters felt social media was responsible to a large extent while 53.6 per cent of opposition voters felt the same.
48.2 per cent to be precise felt that social media had increased the gulf between the communities to a large extent.Unsplash
Social media platforms have come under increased scrutiny of late for their alleged role in spreading misinformation, fake news, abusive and defamatory content and direct incitement to violence. It has become routine for state and local level administrations to temporarily ban access to social media platforms in areas that report tension and fears of violence.
A parliamentary committee has recently submitted a set of recommendations to regulate social media platforms. One major recommendation is to treat them as publishers while the other is to form a regulatory body on the lines of Press Council of India to regulate their activities. (IANS/SP)
(Keywords : social media, Hindu, Muslim, community, country, poll, respondents, political, religious, misinformation, violence. abuse, regulations)
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