Friday, February 23, 2018

Vilma: They want to let my son die

Wayne blanks Prakash talk


taking a break: Supporters look on as Highway Re-Route Movement leader Dr Wayne Kublalsingh rests during his hunger strike outside the office of the Prime Minister at St Clair Avenue, St Clair, yesterday. —Photo: JERMAINE CRUICKSHANK

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Six days with no food, no water and no visit from Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

Environmental activist Dr Wayne Kublalsingh yesterday began the sixth day of his hunger strike by refusing to speak with Congress of the People (COP) leader Prakash Ramadhar.

Ramadhar had paid Kublalsingh an early morning visit, arriving just after Kublalsingh had settled in a makeshift camp outside the Prime Minister's office in St Clair.

"Please, leave; you are disturbing me," Kublalsingh said to Ramadhar.

Kublalsingh remained seated during much of the 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. vigil outside the Prime Minister's office, but twice during that time, he stretched out across a row of wooden chairs while being dabbed with a wet cloth. After an hour and 15 minutes of rest on both occasions, he returned to his seat.

While Kublalsingh joked with his Re-Route companions and spoke quietly with several visitors, including members of the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) and the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM), he said he was too weak to entertain any Government visitor.

"I just want to let you know, right now, I am feeling extraordinarily weak, and I am not able to converse and I am very dehydrated. I do not know what is going to happen in the next hour or the following hour," he said.

Kublalsingh was being medically monitored by a private ambulance service from SCI EHS which was hired by his family. His blood pressure was logged every ten minutes, and while it dipped during the day, the medical attendants said it remained low but stable as their checks progressed throughout the evening.

"When my vital signs begin to disintegrate, I myself, alone, will give a warning, and our group will take charge. I will decide that; I don't need any advice on that," he said.

He reiterated that he would not accept any Government assistance, even in the form of medical care.

"Yesterday, they hounded me and sent an ambulance all the way to Debe. My family has hired an ambulance, and they will take me to Port of Spain General Hospital. I do not want to go to any private hospital," he said.

"I am simply waiting on word from the Prime Minister, not to meet with her, but I am simply asking her to keep her promise to put on hold and review the Debe to Mon Desir section of the highway and to establish a committee to consider essential factors such as hydrology, cost-benefit analysis and social impact assessment," he said.

Kublalsingh said he remained committed to the hunger strike, even though he was advised that his health was "being risked" at this point.

"I got some advice that my health was under risk, but with this struggle, you have to take some risks. I feel fine; all my vitals are operating fairly. I am weak and my mouth is extraordinarily, dry but I will be coming back here tomorrow," he said as the group packed up to leave at 4.30 p.m.

"There will be a nurse present at my bed for the night. This action has to continue until the Prime Minister responds to us. We want them sending a message to us that the Prime Minister is prepared to undertake a review of this and put the project on hold; is that what we want?" he asked the gathering.

Just before the camp broke up, adviser to the Prime Minister Lisa Ghany and two aides were seen exiting the office. Ghany collected a letter from a black SUV and handed it to one of the aides who delivered it to Kublalsingh's father, who then gave it to Kublalsingh, who seemed unaware of the letter.

When asked what the letter contained, Kublalsingh then looked at it and said it was signed by the Prime Minister and directed to his mother.

Vilma Kublalsingh read the letter to the media, and both parents expressed surprise at the contents.

"This does not say anything. What they saying is that they are prepared to let my son die," she said.

Kublalsingh, 53, is one of eight children. He was visited by his sister Faith Kublalsingh who lives in New Jersey, USA, but flew in yesterday to speak with her brother. The family said Kublalsingh's wife was very concerned for him but shied away from the media spotlight and preferred to support him away from public scrutiny. The couple have one son who is 20 and currently studying law in Barbados.