September 28, 2016

Prisoners move protest over poor meals, treatment to social media

CoI into prison unrest

The Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the recent unrests at the Georgetown Prison continued on Friday with another prisoner taking the stand before the three-member panel.

Inmate Carl Brown showing a little piece of Banga Mary fish given in one of the meals

Inmate Carl Brown showing a little piece of Banga Mary fish given in one of the meals

Inmate Owen Belfield testified before the Commission, recalling the events of March 2 and 3, that led to the deadly fire on the latter day resulting in the death of 17 prisoners and injuring several others including prison officers.

One of the group photos posted on the Facebook timeline of an inmate

One of the group photos posted on the Facebook timeline of an inmate

However, the most startling fact during Belfied’s testimony came out under cross-examination when he admitted to posing for a photo while incarcerated. The photo was taken by another inmate and was posted on social media website – Facebook.
Attorney Selwyn Pieters, representing the Guyana Prison Service and the Guyana Police Force, questioned the witness about the controversial photo. In his response, Belfield admitted to the Commission that he once posed for a photo with another inmate, Collis Collison, while incarcerated at Camp Street penitentiary.
“It was just one time sir,” the inmate informed the Commission.
A browse of the Facebook account of Collison revealed several photos posted on January 25, 2016 with groups of inmates in what is assumed to be the Capital A Division, which was completely damaged during the March 3 fire.
In one of the three posts made on January 25, Collision said “look how much youth dea a jail house them never wan we Fe dea a road.” Another post on the same day states “A.T.M tha money team mad ras sick na f*** one in a dem head.”
Meanwhile, on another inmate’s page – Carl Browne – there were several posts expressing the dissatisfaction of prisoners about the treatment meted out to them particularly as it relates to the quality of food they were receiving at the jail house.
Brown took to Facebook in a post as recent as Friday in which he voiced his concerns. “Today (Friday) pan top midday lunch now Being serve curry potato and fry fish banga mary. Carl Browne hold the pan top with 2 thin slices of Potato, as set of wheels rice and a little piece of banga mary fish tail,” he complained in the post.
In fact, the man posited that this kind of treatment of prisoners is “…total disrespect to humanity. Inmates need proper meals and a proper diet.”
Another post on Wednesday said “Today midday pan top for lunch eggplant with chicken stew you can’t really see the chicken in the stew. Lol then this is improvement in meals. So imagine what inmates got before this massacre issue, they say we are getting better meals.”
Additionally, on March 16 Brown posted a photograph with a young man whom he said was shot in his eyes with pellets and was denied proper treatment. “Prisoner Anand Ramsood who was shot by pellets and having one in his left eye was taken to the hospital today but with negative result since the doctor wanted to admitted him to operate (to) extract the pellet but the officer that took him to the (hospital) didn’t take him with his x-ray,” the post on Wednesday read.
A further scroll of Brown’s Facebook account showed another post on February 27, which states, “I thank GOD for life to see another day under adverse conditions. I prayer that GOD open the heart and trust understanding of President David Granger to know that he has a man in prison by violations and grant me my Right to freedom.”
During the inquiry proceedings on Friday, Belfield admitted to the Commission that the photograph he posed for was taken with a cell phone, thus confirming that prisoners are in possession of the contraband item. However, the prisoner said he was unaware that the photo was posted on the social media website.
This disturbing disclosure has brought to light the ongoing conflicting evidence given to the Commission of Inquiry. Some prisoners testified that they have seen, and in some cases used, cell phones belonging to other inmates; while others claim that they have never seen any inmate with the mobile device.

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