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‘We want our leaders’ – the campaign to reveal the whereabouts of the Grenada Revolution's dead

JEAN TATE says there is mounting evidence the United States took the bodies of the revolutionary leaders after invading Grenada nearly four decades ago. Today, relatives are still campaigning for their return

OCTOBER 25 2020 marked the 37th anniversary of the US invasion of Grenada, following the historic achievements of the four-and-a-half year old people’s revolution, in which huge leaps in progress were made in all fields for the people of that Caribbean island. 

The achievements were so powerful an example that the US could not tolerate it in its “backyard.” It put up constant internal and external threats to destabilise this shining example to the English-speaking people of the Americas.

The excuse used was the tragic events of October 19 1983, when nine leaders of the Grenada Revolution, including the Prime Minister Maurice Bishop and other senior members of the People’s Revolutionary Government, including one woman, Jackie Creft, were killed at Fort George in St George’s. 

The whereabouts of and what has happened to their remains have been a matter of controversy ever since. The families of these heroes, together with individuals and organisations inside and outside Grenada, have been struggling to get the truth. The evidence that has been compiled is gradually becoming clearer, with the US more and more implicated. Bishop’s mother Alimentha Bishop appealed to the US for decades for the return of his body.  She died without an answer.

Last week 2020 Grenada – Forward Ever! held a Zoom meeting attended by participants from all over the Caribbean, UK and US to launch a new campaign for the return of the bodies.  

Speakers included Jacqui McKenzie, human rights lawyer and participant in the Grenada Revo’, Luke Daniels, chair of Caribbean Labour Solidarity, Earl Bousquet, well-respected Caribbean journalist based in St Lucia and invited by Maurice Bishop to serve the Revo’ as a print and radio journalist and Jeremy Corbyn, president of our sister organisation, the Committee for Human Rights in Grenada and long-time campaigner for human rights internationally. He spoke about his experiences as a member of a parliamentary delegation that went to Grenada within weeks of the US invasion.

The key speaker was Alan Scott who, together with Noreen Scott, has collated a vast amount of evidence about what was done with the remains after the deaths of the leaders. In his speech Scott showed that from the three main sources of independent evidence it is clear that the US invading forces took possession of the remains and that the Grenadian government has been aware of this for some time.  

He detailed the accounts from these sources, showing that the bodies were first buried in a trench in the army Camp Fedon at Calivigny on October 20 1983 and discovered there by the invading forces between November 2 and 8 1983. The bodies had been partially burned, but it was possible to identify at this stage to whom the bodies belonged.  

However, there soon started to be conflicting reports about how many bodies had been found and it is thought that a number of them were sent to the USA. 

Whether these were returned remains unanswered. There was also a considerable delay before remains were brought by the US army to the lab at St George’s University, by which time a number of bodies had been desecrated and were no longer identifiable.

The questions that remain unanswered are: what did the US forces do with the remains? Are they in Grenada or the US? Why have successive Grenadian governments not made rigorous efforts to ascertain the whereabouts of the remains?

The meeting concluded by demanding that the Grenada and US governments release the remains so that the families can give them a respectful burial and some degree of closure and so that a memorial to the Heroes of the Grenada Revo’, the Caribbean and the whole world can be built in their homeland.

For a recording of the meeting and further information go to
G-FE website: http://grenada-forwardever.net/campaign-to-recover-the-remains

Three pamphlets by Alan Scott available through the website:“Grenada – History, Lives and Liberty Matter”, “The Last Days of the Revo’” and “Was the Grenada Invasion Legal?”

Jean Tate is chair of the Committee for Human Rights in Grenada and chair of Grenada Forward Ever.

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