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Tivoli residents deliver petition for incursion enquiry to PM

BY KARYL WALKER Editor — Crime/Court Desk walkerk@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, March 21, 2013    

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RESIDENTS of Tivoli Gardens yesterday delivered a petition to Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller demanding an international enquiry into the deadly May incursion by the security forces into their community.

The letter was collected at Jamaica House on Simpson Miller's behalf by Luther Buchanan, minister without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister.

Led by Lloyd D'Aguilar and attorney Hannah Harris-Barrington, dozens of residents of the West Kingston community marched from Half-Way-Tree square to the Police Officers' Club on Hope Road, where a contingent of six were escorted into Jamaica House by Deputy Superintendent Jobblin Wedderburn.

"We need an international inquiry. There needs to be serious accounting for the damage that was done to people and their property. Somebody has to accept responsibility, because it was a planned operation. We have no confidence in the local justice system," D'Aguilar said.

He also demanded that the Government respond to the petition, which gained some 2,000 signatures, within 30 days.

"If we don't get a response in 30 days we will draw certain conclusions, and it will determine our next course of action," he told Buchanan.

The petition is also demanding that Public Defender Earl Witter should stop working on a long overdue report.

"We, like many Jamaicans, have no confidence in the investigation carried out so far by the Public Defender and request that the statements taken from residents be impounded immediately and copies be made available to the Tivoli Committee, which is acting on our behalf," the petition stated.

Buchanan gave them the assurance that the petition will get the proper attention as he was personally mandated by the prime minister to deal with their concerns.

Police and soldiers stormed the community on May 24, 2010 after gunmen loyal to incarcerated don Christopher 'Dudus' Coke blockaded themselves inside the garrison and engaged them in an intense gun battle.

Police reported that 73 civilians were killed by agents of the state. One soldier was also killed in the exchange.

Yesterday, Sandra Powell was almost in tears. Powell told the Jamaica Observer that she lost her two sons during the violence and she had not yet recovered from the devastation.

"They were not gunmen. Dem was 13 and 18, and the soldiers dem kill the two of my sons. It not easy at all. I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy," Powell said.

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