Canadians support T&T environmentalist on hunger strike

By Jasminee Sahoye

Dr Wayne Kublalsingh

Supporters of a well-known Trinidad and Tobago environmental activist, Dr. Wayne Kublalsingh are insisting that the island’s prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar honour her promise she made to concerned residents over a proposed highway expansion from San Fernando to Point Fortin.

In a letter delivered to the Consulate General of Trinidad & Tobago in Toronto on Tuesday, the Canadian supporters who include environmental activists, university professors and a First Nations solidarity group state that “Prime Minister Kamla should honour the promises she has made to the concerned residents of the proposed route who are being threatened not only with environmental destruction to the lagoon and annual flooding, but the outright displacement of over 300 families that have lived with and worked the land for generations.”

Dr. Kublalsingh’s started a hunger strike 14 days ago with the aim of getting the prime minister put in place a full review and evaluation of all possible impacts– both economic and environmental– of the Mon Desir to Debe portion of the proposed Highway expansion.

A press release from the Canadian supporters of Dr Kublalsingh says they have become increasingly worried about his health. “On November 25th, Dr Kublalsingh was forced to get IV treatment by his family. Later that day, he released a video appeal to his supporters asking them to join him, in it he insisted ‘You have a responsibility to help your people. That’s why I want you to come out tomorrow outside the Prime Minister’s office again … Whatever she (the Prime Minister) says is immaterial, what is important is that you stand up.’”

“Dr Kublalsingh has blazed the way for environmental justice in Trinidad and Tobago,” said Sakura Saunders of Mining Injustice Solidarity Network, who delivered the letter to the Consulate General. “Over the last eight years, the movement that Dr Kublalsingh is part of has shut down multiple destructive industrial projects, neither Trinidad & Tobago nor the world can afford to lose this good man.”

Saunders has been one of the leading people behind the Occupy Toronto Group and the recent protest outside Barrick Gold annual general shareholders meeting in Toronto.

When contacted, T&T Consul General Dr Vidhya Tota-Maharaj acknowledged receipt of the petition, and said it has been forwarded to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Port of Spain.