Not So Fast Freundel | It Was Dr. Richie Haynes Who Engineered Pardons for the MARTYRS of 1937

David Comissiong, Citizen of Barbados, Prsident, Clement Payne Movement

I have been informed that Prime Minister Freundel Stuart declared in the House of Assembly today (Friday the 16th of February 2018) that his Government has just instituted a measure to pardon all those Barbadian martyrs who were convicted of criminal offences in the People’s Uprising of July 1937.

Well I have news for Mr Stuart — he is approximately twenty-two (22) years too late!

You see, way back in the mid 1990’s the late Dr. Richie Haynes MP— political leader of the National Democratic Party (NDP) — laid a Resolution before the House of Assembly that called upon the Government of Barbados to “pronounce an official pardon of all of those patriots who were convicted of criminal offences arising out of the riots of 1937 and expunge these criminal convictions from the official records”, and not only was the Resolution passed by the House, but the Cabinet of the then ruling Barbados Labour Party (BLP) effected the authorized pardons.

And so, not only must the credit of engineering the pardons of the martyrs of 1937 go to Dr Haynes and the NDP, but it should also be noted that Dr. Haynes— speaking on behalf of the NDP—  also called for Clement Payne to be designated a national hero and for the establishment of “an appropriate public monument to commemorate the sacrifices made by the many Barbadians who gave their lives or were wounded or imprisoned or victimized in the 1937 riots” — two demands that came to fruition between 1996 and 1999 with the designation of the ten national heroes of Barbados and the construction of the “monument to the martyrs” in Golden Square in Bridgetown.

Indeed, I remember all of this quite well, because, as a then member of the NDP, I partnered with Dr Haynes in crafting these demands.

But this is not the first time that this Democratic Labour Party government has played the trick of repeating (and claiming credit for) something that had already be accomplished before. Why, just last month– in January 2018– Mr Stuart’s Administration made a big song and dance about appointing Anthony “Mighty Gabby” Carter a Cultural Ambassador of Barbados– something that had already been done as long ago as the year 2004 by  Mr Owen Arthur’s Barbados Labour Party administration.

This DLP administration seems to have bought in to the notion that “Barbadians have short memories”. That might be true of some of us, but I can assure Messers Stuart and company that it is not true of all of us.