Kamla: Bring home children stuck in Syria

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

(From left) Anil Roberts, opposition senator, Kamla Persad-Bisessar, Opposition leader, and Khadijah Ameen, St Augustine MP with children of the community for Eid-ul-Fitr at the Nur-e-Islam Masjid in in El Socorro, San Juan on April 10. – Photo by Faith Ayoung

OPPOSITION Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar on April 10 urged the Government to do more towards repatriating Trinidad and Tobago children stuck in Syria and Turkey where their fathers took them in their quest to fight for terrorist group, Islamic State (ISIS).

She spoke to reporters after attending at the Nur-e-Islam Masjid in San Juan for Eid prayers.

Reflecting of Eid celebrations earlier at the nearby Aranguez Savannah, she said, “So it was a wonderful day and I extend to the national community Almighty Allah’s blessings on this very special, joyous occasion.”

She related a local imam’s account of recently buying five deceased people and reflected on the uncertainty of life.

“While we are doing that and praying for each other, I have very, very serious concerns for the 72 children – Trinidad and Tobago children – who are stranded in Syria.

“I have called repeated for the Government to bring back these 72 children and I think about about 30-something women are there, Trinidad and Tobago nationals.”

Persad-Bissessar said she had made this call previously last year, after which the Government had set up a committee, but nothing solid had happened.

“Up to today not one child nor one woman has been brought back.

“I call on the Government again to please bring home our women and children from Syria. That is a serious, serious matter.”

Persad-Bissessar lamented the deaths of 32,000 people living in the Gaza Strip, amid Eid celebrations. After dozens of Hamas’ terrorists last year killed, raped and kidnapped several hundred Israeli civilians, Israel’s invasion has destroyed buildings and killed, maimed and displaced thousands of Palestinians.

“Up to Monday night I have been repeating my call for our Government to raise their voices against this genocide that is taking place in Palestine.”

She said the Prime Minister in a statement on April 10 had urged a ceasefire, saying this was better late than never, as it lagged behind the UNC’s recent statement urging same.

“It is not enough now. Don’t just put out a statement, ‘Cease fire!’. Go a few steps further and issue letters to the UN, to the various superpowers (calling) for the ceasefire in Palestine.”

Asked about the decapitation of four year old Amarah Lallitte on April 8, she said it was really horrifying, as she extended her condolences to the bereaved relatives.

“It is as though we are getting… With each day the horror is increasing in our country.

“I don’t see what we can do. The Prime Minister hangs on to his clueless minister in spite of all this crime that is taking place in all areas – women, children, young ones, old ones,” in a seeming criticism of Minister of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds.

“What can I say to you? I can’t wait for us to boot out this Government. I don’t think they are capable. They don’t have a plan.”

Asked about Mayaro MP Rushton Paray’s call for UNC internal elections, she said, “My response is the same as I have always given to you. The party will hold elections when constitutionally due.”

She said she has always held elections on time, recalling that on becoming prime minister in 2010 she promptly held local government elections that had been put off for four times in a row by former PM Patrick Manning. She said she had also called general elections plus several elections within the UNC, on time.

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar is joined by UNC senator Anil Roberts’ daughter Anaya, to share alms to people outside the Nur-E-Islam masjid in El Socorro, San Juan, on April 10. – Photo by Faith Ayoung

“There is no need for this hue and cry. I don’t know why it became necessary to have this hue and cry and this rant and rave.

“I don’t know who chain them up or gave them false information that something was going to be postponed.

“We always held it in accordance with the (UNC) constitution and will continue to so do.”

Pressed, she replied, “I will act in accordance with the party’s constitution. Whether it be Mr John, Mr Mohammed, Miss Sumintra, nobody has to convince me to do what is right.”

Persad-Bissessar said the UNC constitution sets a process and a time frame in which to call the internal election.

“That date is decided upon by the national executive (Natex). The party has taken no decision to postpone the election. The Natex, no decision has been taken to postpone. Neither has the Natex convened to set a date for that election.”

Persad-Bissessar urged people to read the constitution.

“I think it is creating a storm in a tea cup unnecessarily.”

Asked if there was any time line, she said Natex members were elected to hold office for two years, so elections would be called within that time frame. She was elected two years ago for three years.

Pressed about Paray’s rumblings, she replied, “I think it’s such a beautiful day. Why do I want to spend time on those matters. Can I wish you a happy Eid Mubarak?

“Don’t be concerned. We’ll do what we have to do. I am not worried and not concerned.

“Eid Mubarak and may Almighty Allah continue to bless each and every one of you and the rest of Trinidad and Tobago.”