The Government is to establish a Rastafari Trust Fund to benefit survivors of the 1966 Coral Gardens incident in which several Rastafarians were killed and others abused by agents of the state.
The Ministry of Culture has transferred a sum of $12 million to the Administrator General as Trustee to establish the Trust Fund.
Portfolio Minister Olivia Grange told the House on Tuesday, July 3 that the Government is committed to transferring $30 million annually over the next three years to ensure the sustainability of the Fund. Ms Grange was making her contribution to the 2018/19 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives.
“Since the Prime Minister’s apology on behalf of the Government of Jamaica in 2017, we have built a positive working relationship with the Rastafari community. We are committed to national support for the 21 elders so far identified by the Office of the Public Defender,” Ms. Grange said.
Prime Minister Holness acknowledging the wrong that was done in 1963 by the state, said that such an incident would never again occur in Jamaica.
In a statement to Parliament last year April, Prime Minister Holness acknowledged that the Coral Gardens incident had been a source of pain and hurt for the Rastafarian community. He said it was a “grave injustice” and announced then the Trust Fund and asked that the Public Defender’s Office try to find survivors who suffered a loss in the incident.
The Coral Gardens incident “sometimes called by the Rastafarian community a “massacre” resulted from protests by Rastafarians over the shooting of one of their members over a land dispute. The Government crackdown against protesters led to the deaths of three Rastafarians, three other civilians and two policemen around Easter 1963. It also led to the assault of several Rastafarians and even men who wore long beards and locks but weren’t Rastas
In her statement on the setting up of the Trust, Ms. Grange said that a mechanism is to be put in place to more effectively manage communication with the Rastafari community.
By: Franklin Mcknight