They can expect that if they do not have dialogue with us soon that the people will come out again and in vast numbers. This is only the smoke.
Declaring that they have the numbers and influence to bring about change, an activist group of anti-vaxxers and anti-mandate activists has given the Mia Mottley administration an ultimatum to respond to a two-month-old written request to discuss how the COVID-19 jab is administered.
Coordinator of the Steering Committee for the Barbados Concerned Citizens (BCC), Winston Clarke, warned Monday that if he did not get a response by Wednesday to the letter sent to Prime Minister Mottley for a dialogue on possible mandatory vaccinations, the BCC will be ramping up its civil actions on several fronts.
Buoyed by a weekend demonstration in which an estimated 2 000 people participated, Clarke declared that the 4 700 people who signed up to support the protest walk against vaccine intimidation at the weekend was only the tip of the iceberg. He said he expects more than 10 000 people to heed the next call-out if the Government fails to meet the deadline.
The activist also put the Government on notice that the group has the financial backing to fight this issue all the way to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) and even to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague.
While the CCJ is the final appeal court for Barbados, it was not immediately clear what legal path would be open to the ICJ, whose dual role is to adjudicate legal disputes submitted to it by member states and give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorised international organs and agencies.
Clarke told Barbados TODAY: “They can expect that if they do not have dialogue with us soon that the people will come out again and in vast numbers. This is only the smoke. I am not giving them a long period of time. I am not willing to go through a war of attrition with the Government where they will stretch us out where they have the dollars.
“We have people who are supporting us too…. We have people with long pockets also. They are people with businesses who were in the walk, who are against it [mandatory vaccines] also.
“The steering committee has support from the chapters in Canada and England. So they are in for a long fight and the papers are already drawn relative to taking them to court. We are just waiting to see if they will take too long; we will take the Government to court. If we feel there is partisanship in Barbados, we will take them to the regional court and take them to the international court too. We are prepared to do it… and it is not a problem of finances because we have it and people are making donations all the time towards it because this is something that people feel very strongly about,” he added.
Clarke said while the group wants other matters such as the transition to the republican form of government and high gas prices addressed, the possibility of making vaccines mandatory was a matter of life and death.
He said all the group wants is to give its input on any pending legislation or policy regarding administering of the vaccine in situations where people may be forced into taking the jab.
“All we need is a chance to have a dialogue with the PM and the CMO (Chief Medical Officer),” said Clarke. “You come around and have a chat with us when it is campaign time… election time and ask us to make a choice. So why can’t we have a choice now?
“What I am doing, though, is I am writing every minister in Parliament and asking them for their opinion about what is going on and if they are aware of how their constituents feel. I am willing to hold Zoom meetings to facilitate them interacting with their constituents and then we will go from there.”
Following outbreaks of violence during anti-mandate demonstrations in St Vincent and the Grenadines and Antigua and Barbuda, there was no evidence of any civil unrest across the region on Monday in relation to the jab.
In Antigua and Barbuda, armed police roamed the streets of the capital to prevent a recurrence of the vaccine coercion protests which police stopped with tear gas and rubber bullets on Sunday.
In St Vincent, a 56-year-old woman was granted bail when she appeared in a Kingstown court on Monday, charged with wounding Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves during an anti-vaccine protest.
Annamay Lewis is charged with unlawfully and maliciously wounding Gonsalves, 74, by striking him on the right side of his head with an object last Thursday.
Prime Minister Gonsalves is now back home from Barbados where he was flown for further medical treatment, including an MRI scan which confirmed he had no neurological damage.