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Acting Supt Kissoonlal, of the Port-of-Spain Division, speaks to the crowd during the health walk billed “Push Back Two” yesterday.

The Transport and Industrial Workers’ Union (TIWU) has added its voice to those condemning the Police Service and the Government, over the handling of a protest demonstration at the Queen’s Park Savannah, on Sunday 16th January 2022.

Describing the action as “despicable” in an official statement, TIWU argues that the country’s democracy is at risk if riot police are brought out to deal with “peaceful demonstrators”.

The following is the full text of the statement issued by the Transport and Industrial Workers’ Union (TIWU) on the matter…

Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (ITPS) and by extension the Government, demonstrated on Sunday January 16th  2022, at a peaceful march held at the Queen’s Park Savannah. What was supposed to be a peaceful demonstration with families, the nation’s government turned it into a riot and seemingly thought it best to bring out a riot squad. The TTPS was outfitted with riot gear, armed with large guns and tear gas. Is that the message we want to send out to the world? That a peaceful demonstration with families in a savannah can cause the government to use the resources of the ITPS to instil fear to bring the nation into submission?

Looking at this behaviour through the eyes of the world, could be defined as the most embarrassing performance of an educated bunch of people. This was not an expectation of those with three degrees and a long list of qualification. What happened to the rights of citizens in this country? Are we on the inception of dictatorship? Comrades and citizens, this action meted out to peaceful citizens by the government is unacceptable. Especially since their only cry was only to seek answers and be given an opportunity to be heard in the best interest of all.

Nonetheless, TIWU stands in solidarity with our members who participated at the peaceful demonstration in defence of their rights for bread and justice and the right to privacy and refusal on health issue that is not in the best interest of one as an individual. Furthermore, TIWU condemns the arrest and abuse of one of our members, who stood with his comrades and peacefully demonstrated his non- compliance to government’s utterances to furlough unvaccinated workers on Monday January 17th, 2022. The execution of these statements can cause grave hardships on families notwithstanding the effects on their mental, emotional and physical health.

The Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago together with the TTPS should apologise to these innocent citizens for their callousness and blatant disregard to the democratic right of the Working Class in this nation. We refuse to allow the powers that be, to dismiss and violently take bread from the mouths of our brothers and sisters by the stroke of a pen. WE WLL NOT sit idly by and watch this display of autocratic leadership forced upon a country whose democracy stands on the blood, sweat and tears of those who fought for our democratic rights.