CaribWorldNews, GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Tues. July 14, 2009: Today marks 30 years since the murder of British-born, Guyana-based Jesuit priest, Father Bernard Darke.
Darke, then a photographer of the Guyana Catholic Standard was murdered by a mob as he took photos of a Working Peoples Alliance demonstration in Georgetown, Guyana against the then government of Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham on July 14, 1979.
House of Israel assailants attacked the demonstrators and as Father. Darke took photographs of what was happening three of the gang turned on him and beat him with staves.
As he ran towards the street corner, one of them then stabbed him with a bayonet in the back. Mike James, a journalist, and Jomo Yearwood, a bauxite worker, were also seriously wounded in separate attacks. Plainclothes policeman appearing on the scene fired two shots in the air to scatter the thugs and quickly made some arrests.
The police took Fr. Darke to the Georgetown Public Hospital, where he was given immediate attention. He was later transferred to the St. Joseph`s Mercy Hospital and operated on by two surgeons to repair his damaged lung. However, he died.
Subsequently, five men, all members of the House of Israel, were convicted in court for carrying dangerous weapons during their attack. However, they were given barely minimum fines. One of them, Bilal Ato, who stabbed Fr. Darke was charged with murder. His trial came up three years later and he pleaded `not guilty of murder` but `guilty of manslaughter.` He was eventually sentenced by Justice Pompey to eight years in prison.
Father Darke was at the time was a teacher at St Stanislaus College, a post he had held almost since he first arrived in Guyana in 1960. Born in 1925, Darke was an alumnus of St Peter`s College, Southbourne, and then served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War.