During the closing months of last year, I was in Jamaica to continue ongoing projects with artists. At the beginning of December,I was relaxing in a bar watching the news. The big story on the island at the time,was that the public enquiry into ‘The Tivoli Incursion’ had begun.
This was an incident in 2010 whereby under US pressure, the combined Jamaican police and military,in an effort to find a needle in a West Kingston haystack, burned the haystack when the needle was already elsewhere. The assault began on the 23 May 2010 as security forces began searching for major drug lord Christopher “Dudus” Coke, after the United States requested his extradition. The outcome of this massively disproportionate state run military incursion into a residential area, was an official death toll of 74, with unofficial estimates rising as high as 200, plus countless reports of extra judical killings,wanton property destruction and hundreds of maimed and injured residents.
Day 2 of the enquiry had begun but the patois speaking witnesses were clearly being intimidated by the formal proceedings of the enquiry and the legal jargon being used by the aggressive attorney of state.
In response to this,a witness representative explodes loudly at the chairman and officials,angry and eloquent,he is objecting to the patronising manner in which the witnesses are being treated, demanding they are shown more respect and dignity,everyone is shouting over each other,and when he calls the Chairman of the ‘enquiry’a political hack,he is unceremoniously booted from the court.
I instantly knew I liked this guy.
Turns out his name is Lloyd D’Aguilar, he’s a prominent human rights activist,journalist and film maker based in Kingston.
He’d been assisting with the representation of the victims and witnesses of the Tivoli massacre,and is head of ‘The Tivoli Committee’, an organisation seeking justice for the residents and families affected.
On Friday I had the pleasure of chatting to Lloyd via Skype. Please excuse the audio quality at times.
The discussion is most informative on a number of subjects relevant to modern Jamaica, Scots should be aware that although Lloyd refers to the English Governor ‘John Eyre’ when discussing the Morant Bay massacre,the Scots were deeply involved in the slave trade and you’ll find more Campbells, McFarlane’s and Reids in Jamaica than you will in Glasgow.