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Apr 21, 2005

Union leaders concerned over arrests

Story PictureMembers of the Belize National Teachers Union this afternoon had what was called a solidarity meeting at their headquarters on Coney Drive with the Belize Communication Workers Union. General Secretary of the National Trade Union Congress, George Frazer, told News Five what was discussed during the gathering.

George Frazier, General Secretary, N.T.U.C.B.
?We are engaged together and we discussed the latest information, what is the current plan of action. We just got a disturbing bit of news that the President of the U.B. Student Government, Moses Sulph, is under lock down at Queen Street. So our people are very concerned. Now apparently you cannot stand up for your rights and so we are going out there to find out what?s happening and show our support because this kind of chaos cannot continue. We want to put it on record too that we deplore acts of violence and what happened yesterday; but these are national issues. Some people are putting it as a B.T.L. issue, this is a national issue. Millions of dollars, hundreds of millions of dollars, B.T.L., Social Security scandal, D.F.C., our country is on the brink of collapse. The future of our students and others out there is uncertain. We have to take back our country. We want our Prime Minister and others to do the proper thing, come clean with the people. They say they have a mandate, call new elections and let us engage for the love of Belize. Not for personal thing or party thing. This is not a party political thing. They are trying to give a spin that the U.D.P. this and the U.D.P. that. Whatever U.D.P. does is not a part of our agenda. Our agenda is the people of Belize, the workers, the students, and this is where we go.?

Following their meetings, the teachers and B.T.L. workers made their way over to the Queen Street police station to inquire whether it was true that U.B. Student Body President, Moses Sulph had been detained.

After being satisfied that Sulph was not in police custody, Frazer updated the crowd on the situation and they started to move towards the Swing Bridge.

At the same time, merchants began to pull down their shutters and the riot police assembled in front of the P.U.P. Headquarters and proceeded to move everyone, including the media, out of the area.

Upstairs at the P.U.P. headquarters, several ministers, including Deputy Prime Minister Johnny Briceño were in a meeting.

While the B.D.F. defender aircraft circled overhead, a crowd started to gather on the Swing Bridge; reminiscent of what happened on Wednesday evening on the Bel-Can bridge.

Late this evening, News Five spoke again with Frazer, as our reporter and camera crew were being pushed back from the Swing Bridge area onto Regent Street. He was not aware that a number of B.T.L. employees had been taken into police custody and are facing charges of illegal gathering near the Prime Minister’s home, but he was concerned about the arrest of two teachers.

George Frazer
?This is madness; I don?t know how to describe it. I wonder if this is a police state or what is happening. We just got a report and we are trying to confirm it that they have arrested two of our teachers from Gwen Liz, Ms. Kathleen Flowers and Mrs. Coral Lord, so we are trying get in touch with our attorneys to please check on this. We understand all the people arrested are being taken to the Queen Street police station. I know for a fact because I saw it with my own eyes, they arrested Mr. Charles Sawyers, one of the officers of the Communication Workers Union and we understand from some of their people that they also arrested Mr. Dwight Gentle. So we don?t know what madness is going on.?

(Police moving people off the streets)

George Frazer
?For the record, we are not in favour of violence or this thing is not political in terms of party politics. You hear all kinds of thing, dah Mr Barrow unu di follow. As far as the unions are concerned, Teacher?s Union and all that, we are following what we believe to be the best interest of Belize, not politics and we hope our people get that message. This is now too much and we will definitely report internationally to Amnesty International and others too this time for real the British and U.S. government.?

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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