By Prior Beharry
THE Candlelight Movement is locked out of Woodford Square in Port-of-Spain on Friday evening as it launches its campaign to get 100,000 signatures for a petition calling for measures to help protect women in Trinidad and Tobago.
Instead, the event was held at the corner of Knox and Pembroke Streets in front the chained northern gate of Woodford Square and a stone’s throw away from City Hall on one side and the Red House – that houses Parliament – on another, with the Hall of Justice smack in the middle.
One of the members of the Candlelight Movement, Phillip Edward Alexander called for Port-of-Spain Mayor Joel Martinez to apologise to the nation for not allowing them permission to use the square located in the heart of the capital city.
Alexander said the official story was that there was a mix up between Martinez and Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram. During the function, almost everyone was observed wearing masks in keeping with Covid-19 protocols.
See interview with Alexander below:
The first person to sign the petition was Randolph Bharatt, the father of Andrea Bharatt who was kidnapped and murdered last month.
Her death sparked peaceful candlelight vigils across T&T and led to the formation of the Candlelight Movement.
On the evening of her funeral on February 12, a massive gathering was held at Woodford Square and saw leader of the Citizens Union of T&T Alexander, talk show hosts Ian Alleyne and Inshan Ishmael (three men who usually don’t see eye-to-eye) share the same platform.
The Candlelight Movement was formed thereafter and also includes activist Avonelle Hector Joseph, of Is There Not a Cause?, talk show host Stephan Reis, attorney Kandace Bharath, radio host Jodi Mohammed and CUTT’s Felicia Holder.
On Friday evening, hundreds gathered to sign the petition, jerseys were distributed, candles were lit and speakers mounted the back of a truck to broadcast the evening’s activities.
When San Fernando musician Colin Craff sang Fly High, as he did at Andrea’s funeral, hundreds lifted their candles and cellphone torchlights transforming the area into a mini concert albeit in a sombre mood. None forgot the cause they came to support as clipboards with the petitions were passed around in the crowd. Many signed or said they already did.
Alexander said there will be no online signing of the petition to avoid any criticism that the organisers would have paid money to have people sign or that people from other countries would have participated.
The petition calls for:
- Decriminalization of non-lethal weapons for women including but not limited to tazers and pepper spray;
- Fast tracking system to obtain a Firearm Users Licence (FUL) for women;
- Registration and regulation of PH taxis to create a system that safeguards the travelling public;
- Implementation of a system of control for the issuing of official motor vehicle license plates; and
- A Commission of Enquiry into the Criminal Justice System.
Alexander said when the 100,000 signatures are received, members of the Candlelight Movement will walk from Bharatt’s home in Arima to the Red House to deliver the petition to the politicians who can bring about change in T&T.