BHM – Maurice Bishop & Thomas Sankara
24 years ago yesterday, the Prime Minister of Grenada, Maurice Bishop was assassinated effectively ending the Grenadian revolution and the “New Jewel Movement” led by Bishop and to the invasion of Grenada by Ronald Reagan’s US forces. The JEWEL Movement (The Joint Endeavour for Welfare, Education & Liberation) was originally started in 1972 and was largely a political movement centred around the agricultural cooperatives. A year later the New Jewel movement was created. The NJM along with Thomas Sankara’s (who was also assassinated, 20 years ago on the 15th October,1987) revolution, were two Black liberation movements that sought to tackle the issues of land rights, labour rights, corrupted leadership, a social democracy where everyone had access to decent health, education and housing. Like Patrice Lumumba, Maurice Bishop and Thomas Sankara were assassinated and Jean Bertrand Aristide was kidnapped and forced into exile by the same forces of neo-colonialism and their imperialist masters who saw these leaders as a threat to their explotiation of resources and access to cheap labour.
In memory of Maurice Bishop and the New Jewel Movement is Bishop’s Speech to the 34th General Assembly of the United Nations, New York
ROOTS OF THE PEOPLE’S REVOLUTION
As I speak before this body today, I do so as the representative of a small country which intends to speak with a resolute and principled voice on the issues of substantive concern to the world today.
The advent of our Revolution has signalled the beginning of the end of the most dangerous and vicious stage of the colonial experience, that which we recognise as neo-colonialism. This stage had seen us exposed to various constitutional manipulations, all of which had failed to hide the reality of economic bondage under imperialism. Moreover, this neo-colonial stage has also exposed our nation to the vicious, ruthless neo-fascist dictatorship of Eric Gairy. To you here at this renowned body, this petty dictator was known as “Mr. U.F.O.,” but to us in Grenada this amusingly descriptive title did not hide the reality of a dictator whose closest links were with imperialism and international criminal elements and openly fascist and dictatorial regimes.
Apart from his criminal record, Gairy left Grenada in an economic wilderness. Indeed, due to his neo-fascist regime we have a legacy of a total dependence on imperialism, a reality that has meant extreme poverty characterized by wholesale repression of the working people and their organisations, massive unemployment, with more than half of the work force out of work, high levels of illiteracy, malnutrition, superstition, “Mongoose Gang” brutality and murder of our people, poor housing and health conditions, combined with overall economic stagnation and massive migration.
Such a legacy was the motive force behind our Revolution, on March 13th of this year. Our Revolution had its roots with the formation of our party, the New Jewel Movement in March 1973. From that date till March of this year our party was subjected to various forms of the most gross and openly hostile brutality at the hands of Gairy and his fascist allies . I am proud to announce to this body today that such abuses of human rights ceased as of March 13th, 1979, (the day of our successful Revolution,) and since that time, the democratic rights and freedoms of the people have been restored and expanded……….Continue
This week’s Pambazuka News publishes an interview by Koni Benson and Mukoma Wa Ngugi with Aziz Fall, Co-ordinator of the International Campaign for Justice for Sankara (ICJS). Aziz discusses the fact that 20 years on those responsible for the murder of Thomas Sankara have yet to be brought to justice and remain in power.
Sankara’s widow, Mariam Sankara, and his two sons never abandoned their call to the international community to take action to bring his assassins to justice. Ten years ago, the Group for Research and Initiative for the Liberation of Africa (GRILA, an internationalist and panafricanist group) answered that call by creating an international campaign with a twofold strategy involving a political component and a legal one