The recent deaths of Ashanti Riley and Andrea Bharatt are the "final straw that broke the camel’s back” according to Synergy TV host and member of the Candlelight Movement, Stephan Reis.
On Friday night, the Candlelight Movement launched a national petition which the group will take to Parliament.
The main proposals are the decriminalisation of weapons such as pepper spray and tasers, fast-tracking the use of firearms for women, the regulation of the “PH” driver system, a commission of enquiry into the criminal justice system, and systemic regulation of the issuance of motor vehicle licences.
Reis, who spoke at the launch of the Candlelight Movement’s petition drive on Friday night, referred to cases where minors were killed such as the Akiel Chambers case, the Sean Luke case and four-year-old Amy Emily Annamunthodo who was beaten to death and he said the country has had enough of these heinous crimes.
“Ashanti Riley and Andrea Bharatt were the straw that broke the camel’s back. The difference is that we will not switch off and move on this time. And we are not going to allow people in the red building to move on either. Every mother, every father of a victim of a crime cannot move on that easily,” he told hundreds of people who stood under umbrellas and came despite the heavy rainfall on Friday night on Knox Street, Port-of-Spain.
A Candlelight Movement supporter signs the petition to end Violence Against Women on Knox Street, Port-of-Spain, on Friday night.
Bharatt’s father, Randolph, was the first person to sign the petition and left soon afterwards.
Although speakers such as businessman Inshan Ishmael and Progressive Empowerment Party (PEP) leader Phillip Alexander were supposed to speak at Woodford Square they eventually spoke from the back of a van on Knox Street opposite the Hall of Justice, since the gate to Woodford Square was closed.
While Ishmael and Alexander gave their speeches, some people held up candles and others used cell phones to light up the dark as their way of protesting the spate of shocking murders that have rocked the country in recent times.
Kandace Bharath, Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Candlelight Movement told the Guardian Media that they aim to get at least 100,000 signatures.
The group was formed in February following Bharatt’s kidnapping and murder.
When they have enough signatures they will carry it to Parliament and they hope that the points they raised will be addressed, the group’s PRO said.
Bharath hopes that within a month they will be able to take the signatures to Parliament.
“We have to do something. We are hoping that this is the Government of the people. We are hoping that once we tell them what we want in no uncertain terms, they would decide they will act accordingly.”
She said there will be another rally at Barakah Grounds in Chaguanas next Friday and encouraged the public to participate.