Speaking with MyVueNews.com, Ras Iroy, chairman of the Rastafari in Unity organization, stated that they are not fighting for the legalization of marijuana but more so the freedom of it.
“We’re focusing on the cause for the freedom of the herb [and] not specifically for any type of decriminalization or legalization,” he said. “Babylon (the police) has yet to present their case, as it relates to what is it that is wrong with the herb,” Ras Iroy continued.
The chairman said the entire world is benefitting from marijuana but here, in St. Kitts and Nevis, he said, “We’re locking up our potential leaders (youths), our brothers and sisters [and] destroying families who are trying to support themselves by using the herb.”
Iroy stated that at this point, the federation needs to look seriously at the herb. He indicated that they have engaged with the police, the government and even went as far as writing to the Attorney General, whom he said has not yet responded to their letter.
Chairman Iroy threatened to boycott the next general elections if all political parties inclusive of the government do not answer the cause and have serious deliberations on the herb.
He cited that he is not playing politics with anyone and that he is fighting for equal rights and justice.
The chairman of the organization said that they have been ‘trodding’ through the streets of Basseterre and Nevis to challenge all forms of discrimination and crying shame on all parts of the system that uphold victimization to Rastafarians.
According to him, “anything against the development of I and I as a people, respecting I blackness is a serious [issue],” whether it be the right to go to school with dread locks or the right to smoke marijuana freely. Ras Iroy said that they are all a part of the issue.
This protest comes at a time when News America published an article on 24th August about six Caribbean Countries where Rastafarians complain about discrimination. St. Kitts and Nevis is amongst the six Caribbean islands.
Specifically, the article states, “Rastafarians in Saint Kitts & Nevis say they continue to face discrimination, in employment, as well as in public and private school, where officials refused to enroll Rastafarian children because of their belief against vaccinating their children in violation of national laws.”
It continued, “They also say they Rastafarians are prohibited use of marijuana, which they described as integral to their religious rituals, and face discrimination in observing religious holidays since government-run community development centers allow Christian groups to perform tree lighting ceremonies for Christmas at no charge, but Rastafari groups wishing to celebrate Kwanzaa are charged US $148. Additionally, representatives locally also said that prisoners were forced to cut their hair and that the government did not accommodate vegetarian diets in prison.”
This is the fifth year the Rastafari in Unity organization have come together for their annual gathering to “fight for the cause of Rastafari and by extension the cause of black people.”
Iroy stated that they are grateful for the opportunity to share with the people of St. Kitts and Nevis and are appealing to them for their support as they – supposedly the police and government – are “depriving the small man from advancing economically.”
According to Iroy, they have held town hall meetings in different areas and have engaged communities in discussions in order to gain support from the general populace. He indicated that a legal firm has taken up their case and have written to the government, and he anticipates that they will be successful.