Human Rights in Jamaica. Lloyd D’Aguilar Interview

photo1By Bonnie Prince Bob

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.

Comments (5)

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  1. will miller says:

    thank you for this story.i dont seem to have heard about it before.

  2. Stuart Farquharson says:

    Bob
    Yes Scots were involved in the slave trade, but bear in mind many thousands of Scots were transported as ‘indentured servants’ (slaves to you and I) to the West Indies and North America and that is probably the biggest reason why so many of the local people in these areas have Scottish names

    1. Robin Stevenson says:

      Yes, I was reading recently that the Scottish and Irish slave sold for around £5, whereas the “Black slave” was around £50, apparently the Scottish and Irish slaves were far harder to train and were not so subservient, along with their religious baggage. Someone had the bright idea [later on] of breeding black slaves with white woman, where the offspring reached a fine price in the auction.
      But then again, slavery is nothing new to the Irish or Scots, just ask our good “Better Together” neighbours.

  3. Amy Trout says:

    I am Scottish, I voted YES, and I voted for the SNP. I was lucky enought to study in Kingston, Jamaica many years ago. I was there for two years and wrote an Mphil whilst there I also worked for the University publishing house. As I read my way through the various academic socio historical texts I became increasingly aware that Scottish people were just as involved in the slave trade, as the rest of the British (think of it, Robert Burns nearly went to Jamaica to make his ‘fortune’). We were all responsible. I was horrified! I always thought it was ‘them’ that did it, not ‘us’. Slaves were given the second names of their masters. It marked them as property. It is time to redress the psychological balance, shrug off the old chip on the shoulder and recognise our part in this persecution. We were not the victims.

    As to Tivoli. The lives that people have there are tragic, no hope, no opportunity, few choices. Those people are perceived of as the lowest classes, Jamaica has a class system more stringent than the British one. The upper classes generally treat the lower classes as dirt. A class system set in place by the British colonial rulers, that is us, the English, Irish, Scottish and Welsh. We were not the victims.

    Think of it. Glasgow was built on the slave trade, the sugar trade. Scottish wealth came from spilled slave blood. We were not the victims.

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