Minister of Culture Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange has declared that it is not the policy of the Government to cut the hair of members of the Rastafari faith who seek medical attention at public facilities.
Her declaration comes amid allegations that persons employed to Linstead Public Hospital in St. Catherine recently cut the beard of a 78-year-old Nyabinghi Elder, William Montgomery Holmes, also known as Ras Irie Lion.
Ras Irie Lion, who already acquired the services of lawyer Bert Samuels, is claiming that the beard he maintained for more than 57 years was cut without his permission while he was admitted to the hospital.
The hospital’s management has launched a probe into the claim, and has referred the matter to the legal department of the health ministry.
In a press statement, Grange said she has written to the health minister, Dr. Christopher Tufton, requesting an investigation.
“This allegation is deeply troubling and I’ve asked Minister Tufton to ascertain the circumstances surrounding this incident, as it is not the policy of the Government to cut the hair of members of the Rastafari faith who seek medical attention at public facilities.”
Grange added: “I also extend best wishes to Ras Irie Lion for a speedy recovery. I assure him that I am doing everything I can to expeditiously determine what occurred, and to assist in bringing the matter to resolution.”
Grange further stated that the Government does not discriminate against Rastafarians.
“My government has acknowledged the historic discrimination and injustice that Rastafarians have suffered in our country, and has taken unprecedented action towards reconciling and resetting the relationship with our Rastafari brothers and sisters. This allegation goes against the new relationship that we are building,” she continued.
“While I await the report of the Ministry of Health and Wellness, I have directed that the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport continues to provide support to Ras Irie Lion through the Cultural Liaison for Rastafari Affairs.”
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