Brutal murder of Guyanese government minister sends shockwaves

Minister Sawh “The news that the Guyanese Minister of Fisheries, Crops and Livestock, Satyadeow Sawh, was brutally gunned down at his home along with his brother, sister and bodyguard early Saturday morning is sending shockwaves around the Caribbean,” wrote Trinidadian blogger Jonathan Ali on April 23. Jonathan noted that “the Express article also calls Sawh's murder “unprecedented in the history of parliamentary politics in the English-speaking Caribbean-outside of the 1983 coup in Grenada”. Today, April 24, the news makes the front page of Newsday, one of Trinidad & Tobago's three dailies.

Among Guyanese bloggers, MediaCritic was first to weigh in with a newsflash early on April 22nd:

Minister of Fish, Crops and Livestock Satyadeo Sawh was gunned down last night at his LBI home along with three others. It is understood that the three others are his relatives.

More to come.

Update: The incident happened shortly after midnight. The three persons are the minister's brother and sister-in-law and a watchman while three others were injured including another brother of the minister.

Security guards around the area said that the gunmen opened fire on them before executing the minister.

NewsdayLater in the day Guyana-Gyal admitted to feeling “icy fear”:

Fingers icy with fear dialling phones everywhere. Voices whispering the news from home to home. Four people – the Minister of Agriculture, Satyadeo Sawh, his brother, his sister and his guard gunned down at his home after midnight, last night. Other people injured. . . .

Guyana-Gyal also noted the earlier murder in Georgetown (Guyana's capital) of businessman Sher Mohammed Gaz Nabi of Nabi & Sons Construction Co, adding, “His jannazah, the prayer for the dead, barely float away…and now this. A shroud settle over this small, small land again, today.” Also posted on April 22 was a more cynical reaction from Guyana Providence Stadium:

Crime in Guyana is at an all time high and has stepped up another notch, now Ministers are becoming targets.

Living in Guyana can be difficult these days but dying is becoming easier

On April 23, Guyana Resource Centre ran the AP story and another from the Trinidad Express, then a Stabroek News piece on the reaction to the incident by local organizations. Also quoting Stabroek News was Trinidadian Nicholas Laughlin, who posted the following excerpt from the newspaper's Sunday editorial:

“If it does not dawn on the government after this that the state is no longer in control, then heaven only knows what it will take for the reality to penetrate. This is not about our normal unruly political game; we are into a different context entirely from anything which has obtained before.”

Guyana Resource Centre also started a petition requesting the intervention of peacekeeping forces:

The assassination of Satyadeow Sawh is more evidence of a plot to destabilize Guyana. Peacekeeping forces are urgently required in Guyana from now until the elections are over. Vote YES if you agree there should be peacekeeping forces from the UN, OAS, UK, and US; vote NO if you disagree.

On the same day, MediaCritic posted a few clarifications to his earlier entry, and raised the issue as to whether the incident was an assasination or a robbery gone wrong:

2. Stabroek News is reporting that the minister's murderers were dressed in ‘milatary fatigues’ as opposed to ‘black clothes’ as we had reported.

Now to the issue which is being hotly debated. Was the minister deliberately and purposely assasinated in a clean hit or was he the unfortunate victim of a robbery?

1. Stabroek News reports that the Commissioner of Police Winston Felix is insisting that robbery was the motive.

. . . .

2. Stabroek News also points to an incident which angered members of the PPP/C. One hopes that they are not deliberately spinning the death into one of their comrades for political gain. . . .

Also on April 23, Guyana Resource Centre posted a Kaieteur News story putting the incident in the context of the rash of murders (42 in the past three months) which have taken place in Guyana, and today, Guyana 360's entry takes the form of a eulogy:

Minister of Agriculture, who was also the Minister of Fisheries, Other Crops and Livestock, was one of the most charming persons in one of the world’s dirtiest games, politics. He was like the rose between the thorns. Could he have been the rose that wanted to turn this country around, well we thing so. But like many other roses before him, he was overcome by the thorns.

It was a sad affair this evening at his house, his wife, Sattie could hardly contain her self and why must she, did she ask for her husband to be taken away? NO she didn’t. . . .

while noting that foreign assistance is apparently being sought:

What will happen next no one knows, but the FBI and the Canadians have been asked to intervene. The FBI has a poor track record in this part of the South American Continent. Jolt your memories back to the Pegasus murder…the two missionaries that were murdered on the border and the missing AK-47s. Further we say not. . . .

According to jebratt, Minister Sawh will be cremated tomorrow, which has also been designated a day of mourning in Guyana.


  • Read it and weep

    Not a day for good news at CFR.
    Over at Global Voices, I’ve just posted a roundup of the blogosphere’s response to the brutal murder of Guyana’s Minister of Agriculture. Not good, not good at all.
    Technorati Tags: guyana, global voi…

  • SHoyte

    My sincerest condolonces to you Sattie and family of Minister Sash Sawh.

    You had to know him to understand howw former staff members like myself are grieving at his cruel and horrible death. No more that booming, yet pleasanttly deep voice, carefaully articulating his position: to staff members at a meeting; a farmer in Mahaica; a women’s group in Essequibo.
    He stood by his convictions “diversify, diversify”. He pushed that export envelope, “new markets, get new markets”,
    A Party Man, not PPP alone. Who attended every Ministry social, sat at every Mash Committee meeting, forever increasing the budget. Stood up to be counted on the road march, and next day meeting at the New GMC, with Roxanne and Neezam and Celeste and them.

    His friend, former PS Balkarran. I cant imagine how he feels.

    Sattie my heart goes out to you and the boys. May God grant you comfort in your time of sorrow. All Guyana may miss him, but you alone will…

    I have lost family. I grieve

  • This is one of the great lows of the region.

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