Comissiong speaks on pardon for 1937 uprising
Government’s promises to introduce a parliamentary resolution pardoning persons associated with the 1937 uprising, and to erect a monument in their honour, is redundant, social activist David Comissiong has contended.
In fact, Commissiong said, such a resolution was approved by Parliament some two decades ago, and a monument had aleady been built.
Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley introduced a resolution in the House last Tuesday to remind Barbadians of the 1937 struggles for rights, led by Clement Payne, and the upheavals that resulted from his deportation on July 26, 1937. In presenting the resolution, Lashley suggested a pardon for persons convicted for rioting, expunging their criminal records, and erecting a monument in their honour.
However, speaking on the 78th anniversary of the disturbances, Comissiong, the president of the Clement Payne Movement, sought to “set the record straight” by revealing that a similar resolution had already been approved.
“The late Dr Richie Haynes, as leader of the National Democratic party piloted such a resolution in the House of Assembly in the mid-1990s [and] that resolution was passed by both houses of parliament. So we just need to set the record straight that the National Democratic Party already recognised that it was a national duty that needed to be performed and did perform that duty,” said Comissiong, adding that he helped draft the resolution.
Following an announcement by the authorities that Clement Payne had been deported to Trinidad on July 26, 1937, Barbadians erupted into protests. The following day, on July 27, 1937, protestors gathered at Golden Square, just off Probyn Street, from where they launched the second phase of the protest.
The disturbance left 14 people dead and dozens injured. Some 500 persons were later charged and convicted for either rioting, or being in some way associated with the protests.
Speaking from the same spot yesterday, Comissiong told those gathered for the commemoration that the Minister’s recommendation to erect a monument was once again, too little, too late.
“Again, the record needs to be set straight. That monument has already been established [and] we are facing it here,“ said the Clement Payne Movement leader, in reference to the 14 foot tall monument. “This monument was established under the Barbados Labour Party regime. The minister responsible at that time was the Honourable Mia Mottley, who was then Minister of Culture. And we know a lot of this because it was a collaborative venture between the Clement Payne Movement and the then Barbados Labour Party administration.”
A bust of Clement Payne forms part of the monument, and Comissiong said, “we, the Clement Payne Movement, contributed to the bust of Clement Payne, the establishment of this Golden Square”.