The Chairman of the Iyanola Council for the Advancement of Rastafari Incorporated (ICAR), Michael “Bongo Jahba” Andrew, has spoken out on a current controversy over the shaving of dreadlocked prison inmates.
Two of this country’s most notorious murder convicts, Kim John and Francis Phillip, are reported to have complained to their Attorney that their dreadlocks were cut.
The Attorney has asserted that the move is a violation of the men’s human rights and their right to practice their Rastafarian religion.
ICAR Chairman Michael “Bongo Jahba” Andrew told the Times he was surprised at the reported development.
“That means we are going backward because from what I recall, how many years ago that actually had stopped in the prison. I am very surprised to hear that has happened, Andrew told the Times.
“Basically what has happened there is that we have violated the rights of Rastafari people because one of the norms of Rastafarians is to wear dreads; you don’t shave your hair.”
Andrew asserted that for prison officials to shave the dreadlocks off Rastafarians is going against the law and the democratic rights of people.
He asserted that from a religious standpoint, that should not happen.
The ICAR Chairman disclosed that it is a matter that his organization will discuss when it holds a meeting soon.
He said based on the outcome of the discussion, a letter will hopefully be dispatched to National Security Minister, Victor La Corbiniere, and copied to Prime Minister Doctor Kenny Anthony.
Kim John and Francis Phillip were convicted for a December 31, 2000 attack on worshippers in the Castries Cathedral.
They bludgeoned the faithful with clubs and set others alight after dousing them with gasoline.
Two persons died as a result of the incident and several others were injured.
Andrew told the Times that Christians commit crimes as well and when they do they are not treated differently.
He said the dreadlocks issue has nothing to do with the crime, but with Rastafarianism.
Andrew said of Kim John and Francis Phillip that despite wrongdoing, they still remain Rastafarians and have a basic right to carry their “dreads.”