August 01, 2010
He eagerly accepted the proffered packet of biscuits and bottled water from his position on the floor where he had spent the night nursing angry bruises and a couple cracked ribs, where government-issued combat boots and guns allegedly found their mark.
The 36-year-old Tivoli Gardens resident was waking up to his first day inside a temporary detention centre in the capital.
A Tivoli Gardens resident who alleges that he was kicked, beaten and gun butted by soldiers during the May incursion, displays fading scars he says were left there by the lawmen’s guns. The man told the Sunday Observer that the older wounds were inflicted years ago when he was in his teens by a group of youth who beat him at a dance. (Photo: Paul Henry)
[Hide Description] A Tivoli Gardens resident who alleges that he was kicked, beaten and gun butted by soldiers during the May incursion, displays fading scars he says were left there by the lawmen’s guns. The man told the Sunday Observer that the older wounds were inflicted years ago when he was in his teens by a group of youth who beat him at a dance. (Photo: Paul Henry)
“I was so grateful when the police woman gave me the creme crackers and water that morning because I had gone without food the previous day,” the market vendor recounted several weeks later as he sat outside his front yard, all the while keeping a close watch on the police and soldiers patrolling the streets.
His name has been withheld because he has since returned home and “fears retaliation by soldiers” whom he accused of beating him unconscious during the Tivoli incursion.
He was among hundreds of people detained under the State of Emergency initially called on May 23 to quell civil unrest which broke out in sections of the Corporate Area. The State of Emergency was subsequently extended to St Catherine on June 22 and eventually lifted on July 22 amid controversy.
But the lifting of the State of Emergency has not ended the “nightmare” for the Tivoli Gardens resident who insisted he would press ahead with plans to sue the Government “for the pain and suffering” he claimed he endured at the hands of the military.
“My lawyer is dealing with the matter, and I have the papers from my doctor,” the man said recently.
Becase he feared giving is name, the Sunday Observer was unable to check his story with the military. But Dr George Lawsons’ office confirmed that the man was being treated for broken ribs.
“Yes, he is a patient here. He came in after the State of Emergency,” the receptionist said. “In fact I don’t know if he is walking straight yet; when he first came in he was walking and bending down,” the woman noted, adding that he was referred to a physiotherapist.
The Tivoli resident said after his beating, he was “peeing blood”. He showed the Sunday Observer the scars on his back which showed that he had been severely beaten on a previous occasion.
“The police dem never beat me,” he admitted, “but the soldiers them beat, kick and gun butt mi, all in front of my children some of the time. Yu fi si how dem duh mi back wid dem gun; dem all fracture mi ribs and beat mi till mi unconscious,” he added.
“I hardly leave the house now because I am afraid dat them a guh see mi and lock mi up again, even though mi have mi release papers,” he said, adding that he had not been back to sell his ground provisions in the Coronation Market since leaving the police lock up on May 27.
The father of four recalled how he was forcibly taken from his mother’s house on May 24 after a joint/police military team stormed his barricaded community to serve an arrest warrant on alleged drug baron Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke, who has since been extradited to the United States to face gun and drug-trafficking charges.
“When the shooting started, I took my wife and the three children (the fourth child lives in America) to my mother’s house nearby for protection, because I knew that things were going to get bad,” he said.
That afternoon, he recounted, a group of soldiers entered the house and separated the three men from the women and children. The soldiers took them outside the building and instructed them to lie face down on the ground. They were subsequently instructed to re-enter the house, but as he turned to comply “one soldier” allegedly kicked him in the stomach.
“It hurt so bad, that I could not stretch out mi foot for over an hour,” the man recalled.
According to the resident, he endured several hours of interrogation and beatings that day.
“Them start beat mi from about 1:00 pm, and all after 4:00 pm mi still a get beating; them beat mi and stop, then start again” he said.
“At one point dem carry mi down the path way (walk way) and told me to run, but I said, “Lawd Jesas Christ, onnu tek mi away from mi family and a guh kill me! Then dem tek mi inside one house, and I heard one soldier sey, ‘Mek wi dun him’. They told me to kneel, but a God save mi because mi nuh know whey mi get the strength from fi run. A run outta di house shouting, ‘Lawd Jesas Christ a kill onnu a guh kill mi now’.”
“Mi all run outta mi shorts and didn’t even notice at first; dem beat mi and tear up mi clothes. It was only when I got back on the path way that I realised I was only wearing mi underpants,” the man added.
A soldier, he said, blocked his headlong flight on the path way.
“Mi only hear when one soldier sey, ‘Mi have him’, and another one responded, ‘Him drink Red Bull, bring him up ya mek mi si if him can fly’.”
“The next thing I feel is one lick inna mi neck back, and mi knock out,” the man told the Sunday Observer.
He said that when he regained consciousness darkness had fallen.
“It was after 10:00 pm when I woke up in my wife’s lap; I was confused.”
His confusion grew when he was forced to “crawl up into a truck” with scores of other men and taken to the Mobile Reserve Processing Centre where they were told to “kneel on the rough stones” outside the compound.
“We remained like that for about three or four hours before them bring us inside one cage up part of the building,” he said.
Conditions inside the ‘cage’ left a lot to be desired, he said.
“First off, it was overcrowded, and when night came there was only room to sit. You want to stretch out, but you can’t as you can only lean up,” he remarked. “It was rough…and we would get wet because the place was so open.
“The food was not that good, even though I could not eat because I was in so much pain,” he said. “We got biscuit and water the first morning, and dry food some days. It was not until the Thursday that we finally got some cooked food, but I still could not eat properly even then,”
He told the Sunday Observer that he was taken to the Kingston Public Hospital for treatment on the second day of his detention, but alleged that the officers who took him there were impatient and wanted to get him back to the detention centre as quickly as possible.
“The doctor told them that I needed an x-ray, but they did not want to wait, and so I was given some painkillers and taken back to detention,” he alleged.
He said he was again taken to the hospital on Wednesday, and the doctor gave him a prescription and “a milk substance” to drink. “The doctor mentioned the need for an x-ray, but they said they could not wait,” and so we left,” the Tivoli man complained.
On Thursday, May 27 he was released without charge. “The Thursday night I heard them say, ‘Whey di sick man deh, yu are free to go’,” he said.