Minister of National Security Dr. Horace Chang says the Rastafari movement has been a very important part of Jamaica’s history, and that 56 years after the Coral Gardens incident, the movement must be given the respect it deserves.
Describing the 1963 Coral Gardens atrocities against Rastafari as one of the most horrific incidents in Jamaica’s history, Dr. Chang said while Rastas are a minority, they played a significant role in the country’s development and should never have been treated that way.
He said Rastafarians were the first set of people to assert their identities and be proud to do so after colonialism erased the identity of black people, making them mere slaves.
Dr. Chang said Coral Gardens was a reflection of the system of abuse inherited from colonial masters, and that 57 years after independence, Jamaicans must recognize that they are a black society and accept themselves as one people.
He said Rastafarians are fully deserving of any compensation they receive, resulting from the Coral Gardens incident.
Meantime, lecturer at the University of the West Indies Mona, Dr. Michael Barnett, has expressed hope that Rastafarian survivors of the 1963 Coral Grdens massacre will receive their compensation soon.
Dr. Barnett noted that many Rastas who survived the atrocity, have since died without being compensated.
He said every effort must be made to ensure that the remaining survivors are compensated, before it is too late.
Dr. Barnett said the matter is urgent, as most of the elders are suffering, and now need the funds to take care of their failing health.
He was speaking at the 56th annual commemoration of the Coral Gardens atrocities against Rastafari, at the Pitfour Nyabinghi Centre, where National Security Minister and Member of Parliament for North West St. James, Dr. Horace Chang announced that a $13 m trust fund has been established to compensate Rastafarians who suffered in the Coral Gardens incident.