“WE WANT WE LEADER”
CAMPAIGN TO RETURN THE BODIES OF THE LEADERS OF THE GRENADA REVOLUTION SLAIN ON OCTOBER 19th 1983
In October 1983 the United States invaded Revolutionary Grenada. They seized the bodies of Maurice Bishop and others who had been killed with him a few days earlier. These they took away. Despite numerous calls, over the years, from the families of the slain, the Grenadian public, Governments, religious and community leaders, the American Government has refused to return the remains.
The US administration’s refusal to act leads us to launch a campaign to force them to explain what they did with them and return the remains of the Grenadian leaders so that they can be given a proper and dignified burial.
The genesis of the campaign was a visit to Huddersfield, a town in northern England, in 2019. The members of Grenada – Forward Ever gave an explanation of what our organisation was working to achieve. After a few questions, one of the attendees castigated us for our failure to mention the leaders of the Grenada Revo’, slain on the 19th October.
She gave a heartfelt presentation during which she used the phrase “… we want we leader…”. This was said in the Grenadian vernacular. When we developed the publicity for the campaign this was the phrase used.
“RECOVER THE REMAINS” – SUCCESSFUL LAUNCH
Jeremy Corbyn MP demands their return
On Sunday, October 25th, 2020 over 80 concerned individuals attended a Zoom launch meeting to support the Campaign to Recover the Remains (RtR). The Campaign seeks to identify the location and recover the remains of the leaders of the Grenadian Revolution.
This Zoom meeting took place 37 years after the 25th October 1983, when the United States invaded Revolutionary Grenada and stole away with the bodies of Maurice Bishop and others who had been killed with him a few days earlier. Despite numerous calls, over the years, from the families of the slain, the Grenadian public, Governments and religious & community leaders, the American Government has steadfastly refused to return the remains.
Maurice Bishop was Prime Minister of the Peoples Revolutionary Government of Grenada (PRG) and Leader New Jewel Movement (NJM). Killed along with him were Unison Whiteman – Foreign Minister of the PRG and a founder member of the NJM, Jacqueline Creft – Minister of Education, Vincent Noel – trade unionist, Keith Hayling, Evelyn Maitland, Norris Bain, Evelyn Bullen and Fitzroy Bain. They were all killed on Fort Frederick, later renamed Fort George, by elements of the Peoples Revolutionary Army of Grenada.
The issue of what led to the slaying of Maurice and the others on the 19th of October is hotly contested. This meeting, organised by Grenada – Forward Ever is not a base from which these divisive issue are to be rehashed. It is designed to do “what it says on the tin”, Return the Remains.
Heartfelt presentations from leading lawyer Jacqui MacKenzie, Jeremy Corbyn MP, journalist Earl Bosquet and trade unionist Alan Scott led the call for the return of the remains, with Earl Bosquet “…From back then till now, Grenadians want to know ‘Where our Leader body?…’ Summaries and full presentations of these deliveries can be found below along with YouTube videos of the same.
Corbyn says “Bring Back Bishop’s Body and Those of the Other Leaders”
Former British Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn agrees with Saint Lucian journalist Earl Bousquet that the remains of Maurice Bishop and others killed alongside him in Grenada 37 years ago but still held on deep-freeze in the USA, should be returned to their families for burial.
The two were among several presenters in a Zoom Conference on October 25 coordinated out of London, in support of growing calls by Grenadians and other in the UK and across the globe for St. George’s to demand that the US return the remains its soldiers secretly ferreted-out during the island’s occupation.
Bousquet, who spoke just ahead Corbyn, had argued that ‘never mind how or where they died, every Caribbean person deserves a funeral.’
He also recalled that Bishop’s mother, Alimentha Bishop, had pleaded ‘and prayed in vain for 30 years for her son’s body’ to be returned, for the family to afford him ‘a decent Christian burial.’
But she died in 2013 without her dying wish fulfilled.
Corbyn started his presentation agreeing with Bousquet’s assertion that Caribbean families do place lots of traditional emphasis on ‘the spiritual aspect’ of traditional insistence on burials, recalling knowledge of several instances involving Caribbean people in the UK.
The former Leader of the British Labour Party has long association with the search for truth about what happened in Grenada in October 1983. He was part of a British investigative parliamentary delegation that also included Guyana born MP, Bernie Grant, that visited Grenada after the October 25th 1983 US invasion.
Corbyn recalled the delegation visiting the living and dining quarters of the Cuban construction workers at the Pointe Salines international airport, now named the Maurice Bishop International Airport, that had been hurriedly abandoned after their living quarters came under incoming US aircraft fire.
Corbyn has since lent support for various causes in Grenada, from demanding a fair trial for those accused of killing Bishop and others on October 19, 1983 to current demands that their remains be returned to Grenada from the USA and made available to their families for burial.
The Zoom meeting also heard from other presenters, including London-based lawyer Jacqueline ‘Jacqui’ Mackenzie, as well as Alan Scott, who recently authored a booklet entitled ‘Was the Grenada Invasion Legal?’, who also presented documentary evidence, including photographs, of US soldiers unearthing bodies of Bishop and others from their first graves.
The online meeting was followed across the UK and Europe, the Caribbean and the world and it ended with a call for the Grenada government to be approached to make a formal request for the remains of its citizens to be repatriated from and by the US, after 37 years.
Bousquet recalled writing an article in his VOICE column ‘Chronicles of a Chronic Caribbean Chronicler’ in 2013 – 30 years after Bishop’s death – calling on the US to accede to his mother’s request, after which a then senior Afro-American US Embassy official in Barbados confirmed that Bishop’s and the other bodies were in US custody, but noted that ‘Grenada’ had not requested them.
October 26, 2020
The YouTube Videos from the Recover the Remains Launch Meeting
Links to Videos of the Speakers:
A former teacher and youth worker, Jean is the chair of Grenada – Forward Ever and the Committee For Human Rights In Grenada (UK). A strong supporter of the Grenada Revolution Jean led youth groups on exchange visits during the period. Following the collapse of the Revo’ she worked to save the lives of the Grenada 17 and secure their release.
The introduction to the launch of the Campaign – Jean Tate and Dennis Bartholomew
A leading immigration and human rights lawyer, Jacqui is the Director at the Centre for Migration Advice and Research. She has vocally lobbied on behalf of the victims of the Windrush scandal. She was a member of the National Youth Organisation during the Grenada Revolution and was an activist in that period.
Jacqui McKenzie’s presentation can be found via this link
Editor of The Voice of Saint Lucia. A well-respected journalist who has led
a long campaign for the recovery of the slain Grenadian leadership. He worked for the Peoples Revolutionary Government, led by Prime Minister Maurice Bishop, during the Grenada Revolution, 1979 to 1983.
View Earl Bousquet’s delivery here. His presentation, Bring Bishop’s Body Back – By Earl Bousquet, can be downloaded from here.
Luke is President at Caribbean Labour Solidarity, a leading UK organisation campaigning on behalf of working people in the Caribbean and beyond. He is a published author and leading expert in the field of combatting domestic violence.
Luke Daniels’ presentation can be viewed here
Jeremy Corbyn MP
Served as Leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition from 2015 to 2020. A campaigner on many issues of social justice, he was a vocal campaigner against the death sentences given to the Grenada 17 following an American show trial.
Jeremy Corbyn’s presentation can be viewed here.
A Regional Co-ordinating Officer for a major United Kingdom union, Alan was a founding member of the Committee for Human Rights in Grenada (UK). He led the campaign to prevent the execution of the Grenada 17 and worked for their eventual release. He has produced a body of work detailing what occurred in Grenada during and subsequent to October 1983.
Alan has supplied his written presentation, which can be downloaded from here Alan Scott – 25th October Presentation.
Alan Scott’s Zoom presentation and answers to questions put on the Zoom chat.
The overwhelming conclusion from the meeting is that pressure must be put on the Government of Grenada to recover the bodies. They and other Governments, organisations and individuals must be called on to righteously demands from the Government of the United States to disclose what they did with the bodies and reveal their current whereabouts.
The conclusion can be viewed here
A few images of the force used against tiny Grenada by the “mighty” United States in their invasion.
The slideshow played at the beginning and end of the Campaign launch
Grenada – Forward Ever has produced a guide to the actions that will help the Campaign. Contained are some of the straightforward steps that anyone can take to bring pressure on the powers that be to help the Campaign including: –
- Call on Your Government to Help. We have provided contact details of the various governments you can contact.
- Seeking the Assistance of Faith Leaders.
- Trade Union/Political Organisation action.
- The Energy of Culture, bringing artists and performers on board, and
- Individual Action that everyone can take.
Template letters will be provided soon. Download the document from this link, 2020 10 24 – Action Points, or click on the image.