Sunday, October 01, 2006

Chatham denies rape link

by Kim Boodram
Trinidad Express
October 01, 2006

The Chatham Anti-Smelter Movement yesterday denied any involvement in last Monday's brutal gang-rape of a young woman. They have also called on Point Fortin Member of Parliament Larry Achong to resign.
A group of mostly women and children gathered at Food Crop Junction, where an anti-smelter camp has been set up, to voice their "disgust" over the incident and sympathise with the victim.
"We would like to categorically deny any involvement in this demonic act," said Fitzroy Beache, head of the Chatham Anti-Smelter Movement during a press briefing yesterday. "We are also pained that anyone would suggest that we would do this to one of our own."
Last Monday night, four men beat and robbed a known supporter of the aluminium smelter project, which has been proposed by the Government and is to be built by American giant, Alcoa. A female relative of the man was gang-raped. Alcoa officials later alleged that they had confirmed a link between the attack and the anti-smelter movement. Police investigating the matter have denied any known link. Alcoa has not responded to this newspaper's calls for a further comment or for evidence of the link.
In a highly emotional state, Chatham's elder, Yvonne Ashby, said they believed the attack was an attempt to divide and frighten the community. The movement wants the country to know that their fight is against Alcoa and the Government, not with anyone in their community or the Southwestern Peninsula.
"We want you to know that this has not split our group, we are now more in love! Our heart goes out to our sister and now we will only love them more," Ashby cried.
She said a culture of violence is creeping into Chatham with the arrival of Alcoa and the community will never allow them to settle there.
"Take your filthy lucre and go! We don't want you here! Leave us alone," Ashby shouted.
Beache said they are "extremely disappointed" that such a serious allegation was levelled against them with no supporting evidence. It is frightening, he said, that a foreign group wields this type of power.
Adding that Chatham has been treated as "nobody" by the Government, they have also called for the resignation of Point Fortin Larry Achong, who has frequently and publicly declared war on the movement.
Following the arrest of several activists two weeks ago, Achong remarked -"They shoulda arrest forty and beat them."
"Today we call for the resignation of Larry Achong," Beache declared. "Mr Achong, you have failed to represent us. You have failed to show the compassion and concern one expects from an elected representative."
Chatham has also appealed to the national community for support.
"We have tried every which way to meet with Mr Achong and Prime Minister Patrick Manning. We have met only brick walls of contempt. They have ignored us, as if we are nobody. If this is a community of 'nobodies', then what about your community? Are you next?


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