Guyana's Foreign Trade Minister Calls On Opposition To Tell All On Jonestown 22, 2004

Georgetown, Guyana -- Three days after the 26th anniversary of the Jonestown tragedy, Guyana's Minister of Foreign Trade and International Cooperation, Clement Rohee, is urging the main opposition Peoples National Congress/Reform, to tell all about the incident.

"It is the greatest tragedy from the national and international perspective," said Rohee, during an interview with a local television show here, and this nation needs full disclosure on what took place in that part of Guyana from those who were in power during the tragedy.

According to Minister Rohee, the deal behind Jonestown is still clouded in secrecy and only the government of the day, (PNC), and probably a few others in Guyana, even knew that Jonestown existed and what went on there.The minister noted that the existence of Jonestown only came to light after the 1978 massacre and to date there are still questions in persons minds about the whole episode.He recalled that before the massacre, only the government of the day, and probably a few others in Guyana, even knew that Jonestown existed and what went on there and he added that there was never any sort of consultation on the establishment of Jonestown, which he referred to as a 'state within a state.'

Minister Rohee said that after reports of the Jonestown massacre were made public, it was then realized that that part of Guyana was off-limit to visitors and anyone wanting to visit had to seek permission from Jim Jones. The minister also said that prior to the massacre, nothing of Jonestown or Jim Jones was ever brought to the National Assembly, and it was about a week after the incident that the late Ptolemy Reid, who was then mainly responsible for allocating the land to the People's Temple, brought it before the Assembly.

And he recalled that though early investigations discovered 13 rifles, 14 pistols, semi-automatic weapons and ammunitions no one knows who gave permission for the importation of the weapons.

Opposition Leader Robert Corbin was reportedly invited to be part of the discussions but was a no show.

The list of the dead from the Jonestown massacre is put at some 913 people; over 200 were children. In 1980, the House Select Committee on Intelligence determined that the CIA had no advance knowledge of the mass murder-suicide. The year before, the House Foreign Affairs Committee had concluded that cult leader Jim Jones "suffered extreme paranoia," according to a CNN 1998 report.

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