The Opposition Leader Jamal Pringle says he, along with other members of the Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament, as well as other members of the United Progressive Party, are prepared to lead a “Black March” and candlelight vigil for the dead Cameroonians and their families
Three Cameroonians have been officially declared dead while about 14 have presumably perished. Their bodies have not yet been discovered but search parties have already indicated that there’s a possibility no one will be found alive.
When their boat capsized in the Atlantic Ocean about 12 nautical miles off St Kitts and Nevis, in the dead of night, the waves were high leaving experts to believe that no one could survive over 24 hours. They also had no life vests.
Pringle is also calling on the Governor-General Sir Rodney Williams to “immediately convene a commission to inquire into the circumstances that brought them here – specifically the genesis and operations of Antigua Airways”
Six weeks ago, Pringle wrote to Sir Rodney, requesting an audience to discuss the matter of the airline and the hundreds of Africans it left stranded here.
“He subsequently led a delegation to detail his concerns and those of the United Progressive Party and urge the Governor-General to convene an inquiry into the matter, which appeared to be riddled with aviation irregularities and tainted with allegations of migrant trafficking,”, according to a statement released Wednesday night.
The report said Sir Rodney ultimately declined to do so; instead, he advised Pringle that he had conveyed his delegation’s concerns to Attorney-General Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin, who, allegedly, was having the matter investigated.
“Since then, however, suspicions about the venture have been confirmed, with Prime Minister Gaston Browne announcing, on March 25, that Antigua Airways is defunct. Given the tragic incident at sea, and the international implications of what strongly resembles migrant trafficking, Pringle says, the guilty must be brought to justice,” the UPP statement read.
Pringle is also calling on churches and civil leaders; community groups and NGOs; and every God-fearing and morally conscious citizen and resident to stand up, speak out and demonstrate for the lives lost.
The UPP has also begun the process of composing official requests to Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the Embassy of the United States of America in Barbados, among others, “to bring light to the shadows clouding the twin-island state”.
“As a country, we need to take these necessary measures to resolve this human-rights issue that has put another stain on our country. When will enough be enough? Antigua and Barbuda, only you hold the answer to that question,” Pringle said.
The UPP leader also expressed sympathies on behalf of his party to those who may have lost their loved ones in Tuesday’s tragedy.
“They left their country in search of a better life, and we understand that. They did not deserve to die trying to find it,” he added.
A majority are fleeing the armed conflict in Anglophone Cameroon that has killed more than 6,000 people and imprisoned thousands.
Security forces and Anglophone separatists have conflicted since 2017, forcing hundreds of thousands more to leave their homes.