In two days, Guyana will be celebrating Demerara Martyrs’ Day. More than two hundred martyrs were killed during the revolt which took place on Plantation Bachelor’s Adventure East Coast Demerara after Governor, Brigadier General John Murray, proclaimed martial law and mobilised a formidable military force.
In a statement by the People’s National Congress to commemorate the 198th Anniversary of the Demerara Revolt, it stated that future generations should never forget that freedom was bought at the high price of the martyrdom of hundreds of Africans on August 20, 1823.
Further, the statement read, “The bloodbath took place at the plantation where over 2,000 rebels confronted the main body of troops under Lieutenant Colonel John Thomas Leahy. After the Martial Law Proclamation was read, the troops were ordered to attack.” Additionally, “The massacre, arrests, courts-martial, imprisonment and subsequent executions at the Militia Parade Ground and elsewhere were, perhaps, the single most significant event to hasten the abolition of African enslavement in the British colonies. The Revolt was a significant contributory factor to the passage of the Emancipation Act by the British Parliament a decade later in 1833 and the grant of full Emancipation on 1st August 1838.” In one account of the incident, “The soldiers poured in volley after volley. The slaves returned fire but soon began to run, leaping the trenches into which many tumbled lifeless. Many were shot down on the road and in the cotton fields. By noon, the roadside was littered with dead bodies. About two hundred slaves had been killed.”
It must be noted that the Revolt is always remembered in Bachelors’ Adventure Village and a memorial to the Martyrs was erected by President David Granger years later said that August is a month of solemn remembrance and commemoration.