Jonestown survivor Neville Annibourne dies


Jonestown survivor Neville Annibourne dies

Demerara Waves 22 April 2013

A Cold War era politician and journalist-who accompanied United States Congressman Leo J.Ryan to the Peoples Temple cult in north-western Guyana 34 years ago-died Sunday night.
Neville Annibourne was 82 years. He died at his Happy Acres, East Coast Demerara home where he had been confined to bed for one week.

The former member of the Peoples Progressive Party (PPP) was a returning officer in one of the party’s elections. Through the PPP, Annibourne visited all of then communist bloc Eastern European countries, Cuba and all South American countries.

He was a former Captain of the Guyana Defence Force’s (GDF) Reserve.  
As a journalist and public relations officer, he worked for several pre and post-independence newspapers. More than a decade ago, he was awarded by the Guyana Press Association (GPA) for his contribution to the media. “He is one of the last of a veteran breed that worked with all of the newspapers and top editors in the pre-independence era,” said Lloyd Conway, a long time colleague and friend of Annibourne. As a public relations practitioner, he worked with among other places the Region Four administration for which he had presented a radio programme titled ‘Focus on Four.’

“I remember him as a very outstanding and patriotic Guyanese. He loved his country a whole lot. He travelled the Socialist world and had great hope that one day Guyana will be a better place where all will share in its wealth and prosperity,” added Conway.

Annibourne, as a Government Information Officer, narrowly escaped death in November 1978 at an airstrip at Port Kaituma when members of the Peoples Temple cult opened fire on U.S. Congressman, Leo J. Ryan who had gone to Jonestown to probe complaints about cult leader Jim Jones’ treatment of members.

Annibourne, in an article in the privately-owned Kaieteur News, recalled seeing a woman’s brain being blown out as she stood near a a Guyana Airways Corporation (GAC) plane that had arrived to take them back to Georgetown.
A group of Jones’ followers back then arrived on a tractor trailer and opened fire on Ryan at and near the aircraft. Ryan, three American media workers and a Peoples Temple defector were among the dead. Ryan’s aide, Jackie Speier, were among nine others who were injured.

Later, Jones led his more than 900 mainly American followers into a mass-murder suicide with cyanide-laced Kool-Aid and gunshots.


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