Darke's camera mystery solved after 35 years

Monday July 14, marks the 35th anniversary of the death of English-born Jesuit Father Bernard Darke, who lived and worked in Guyana for 20 years. Fr Darke was a part-time photographer for the Catholic Standard. He was killed while taking photos of an anti-government demonstration in Brickdam, which was triggered by the appearance in court that morning of four members of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA). They were charged with arson in connection a fire which destroyed the Ministry of National Development and the Office of the General Secretary of the ruling People’s National Congress.

Now 35 years later it has finally been revealed that his camera, which was stolen from him as he lay mortally wounded on Brickdam, ended up at the headquarters of the House of Israel in Alberttown.

Image: Members of the House of Israel, one with bayonet in hand (3rd from right) and another with stave in hand (4th from right) pursue Father Darke (left) on the morning of July 14, 1979.

When the priest stumbled as he ran from assailants in the crowd, known to have been members of the cult who infiltrated the protest, he was stabbed in the back as he lay on the ground by a cult member, his camera was taken from him and given to then House of Israel member Joseph Hamilton.

In giving his testimony last May at the Commission of Inquiry into the 1980 death of the leader of the Working People’s Alliance, Dr Walter Rodney, Mr Hamilton said that while filming the demonstration, Father Darke may have taken pictures which could have been damaging to the House of Israel group. His camera was taken to the cult’s headquarters where it was set aside. It was subsequently sold to a mechanic who worked there. The mechanic developed the film and showed them to the group’s leader Rabbi Washington, who instructed that they should be destroyed.

Last April during a visit to Guyana head of the Jesuits throughout the world Father Adolfo Nicolas, (fourth from left), accompanied by other visitors and Jesuits who work in Guyana, visited the memorial cross and stone that mark the place on Brickdam wheRabbi Washington later told the Catholic Standard that in the killing of Father Darke his men acted on the instructions of the top member of the ruling party. He added that his men made the mistake of killing the wrong man. For their part in the matter the Rabbi humbly asked forgiveness.

It was given fully.


Thanks to the Catholic Standard in Guyana for allowing us to re-print this story. 

For more information on the Jesuits in Guyana and their work visit their website.

To read more about the life of Fr Darke take a look at his profile >>