Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 4th 2014 Contents A9
Friday, April 4, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
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for APRIL 03rd 2014
Pilgrimages ruined, no word from ministers
Mission no help, says Ishmael
A T&T delegation led by Rear Admiral Richard Kelshall
visited Caracas last week on a "fact-finding mission," and
Ishmael said while National Security Minister Gary Griffith
was "a great asset," offering support, providing legal
information and communicating with the men and their
families, the group had lost faith in Kelshall after remarks
he made in the press.
Ishmael said: "If you read between the lines of what was
said, this man is pronouncing guilt on people even before
they are found guilty." He said the Muslim group has not
heard from Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Dookeran.
Thus far, no senior minister has visited Caracas on behalf
of the detained men. The Muslim group will continue the
embassy protests every morning after prayers.
From Page A8
During the protest, Ishmael received a telephone
call from Charles-John s son Wade Charles, one of
those detained, who is allowed a one-minute phone
call at the discretion of prison staff. Hearing her son,
Charles-John came to the front of the crowd to talk
She then pleaded with the government to take
action: "The government have to bring our children
back home. I m calling on the ministers to take them
out of that country. My son is not a criminal."
Charles was travelling to Venezuela with his wife
and three of his children (aged five, eight and 11) when
they were all detained. All the women and children
taken from the Plaza Hotel in Caracas on March 19
were deported and flown home last Friday after being
incarcerated for nine days.
His mother said Charles s large family in T&T were
going hungry while he was away.
"Don t stop," said Charles on the telephone, which
was held up on speakerphone for the crowd to hear.
"We would like to say thank you, we appreciate your
support and we hope the government supports us as
much as you all are. Keep us in your prayers, we need
all the support we can get."
Officials at the Venezuelan Embassy in T&T were
asked to comment on the protest taking place outside
but declined to do so.
Members of the Muslim community during a protest for the release of eight T&T
nationals presently detained in Venezuela on suspected terrorism charges
outside the Venezuelan Embassy, Victoria Avenue, Port-of-Spain, yesterday.
PHOTO: MICHEAL BRUCE
MECCA VISIT HALTED
The group, which includes three well respected
imams from masjids in T&T, were due to visit Saudi
Arabia on an Umrah trip to Mecca last Tuesday.
(The Umrah is a pilgrimage that can be taken at
any time of the year).
Hamza Mohammed of Montrose mosque was
one of those organising the trip, the cost of which
is $20,000 including visas. The group had 60
passports with them and $102,000 in cash, which
was seized. It is unknown if the money will be
returned. Mohammed is one of the men currently
Similar situations have occurred before now.
Mansoor Ali of Chaguanas, one of the protestors,
told the T&T Guardian he and 48 others paid their
money for a trip to Saudi Arabia in 2013 and
travelled to Caracas to get visas from the Saudi
embassy for the Hajj pilgrimage.
The group was refused entry, their visas denied
with no explanation and they were sent back to
Ali was on the verge of tears recounting this
story, saying: "You can imagine the humiliation.
Many of the brothers and sisters were crying at
what we went through. We go to Mecca for one
purpose, to serve almighty God."
In a statement issued on Wednesday evening,
Gary Griffith said he "wishes to reassure citizens
that the Government of T&T has been doing
everything that is diplomatically possible to assist
the party of T&T nationals currently detained in
The statement noted that "family members of
the detained persons would like to see a more
accelerated resolution to the matter," but that
"the sovereignty of Venezuela must be respected
and that all due investigations must be allowed to
run their course with respect to the constitutional
laws of Venezuela."
He added that T&T applies the same procedure
when foreign nationals are detained here so it
would be "inappropriate for us to do more...it must
be reciprocal to understand and respect
Venezuela and what they are doing. Griffith said
negotiations are favourable as evidenced by
Venezuela accommodating, supporting and
working with the T&T delegation on March 26.
The statement confirmed the details of their
detention, saying 19 were held on charges of
"anti-terrorism, threats to national security and
attempts to remove the government of the day,
human trafficking and money laundering."
Eight children and six adults were returned to
T&T on March 29. The three imams release is
"pending." He said T&T will continue to lend full
cooperation to facilitate the investigation process
and that diplomacy is the only avenue in this
'WE ARE DOING ALL WE CAN'
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