Morris-Julian: Sooman once called Dr Rowley a rapist, Andrea’s death bigger than personal politics

“[…] When Sally Sooman emerged as the [Andrea Bharatt] family spokesperson, I felt a familiar sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I pushed it aside because I sincerely hoped that Ms Sooman would not allow her personal politics to arise. Unfortunately, I was wrong.

It was on Facebook on 19 April 2019 that she accused Dr Keith Rowley and all Tobagonian men of being rapists…”

The following Letter to the Editor, which addresses Sally Sooman’s public criticism of Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley in relation to the funeral of Andrea Bharatt, was submitted by Lisa Morris-Julian, MP for the constituency of D’abadie-O’Meara:

Photo: Andrea Bharatt, 23, went missing on 29 January 2021. Her body was found in the Heights of Aripo on 4 February 2021.

As a former mayor of Arima, I am well acquainted with Sally Sooman. So when I saw her name in the Sunday Guardian’s headlines as a spokesperson for the bereaved family of Andrea Bharatt I was taken aback. 

When I read the story, I vacillated between remaining silent and penning a letter to the editor. As a politician, more so as a woman in this arena, very often I must choose which battles are worth the fight. 

The PNM’s lady vice-chairman would often remind me that even though politics is not a tea party, it is also not an arena where wrong impressions should be left unchallenged. With this uppermost in my mind, I must speak up in this scenario.

Like the rest of the country, I felt emotionally invested in the Andrea Bharatt situation. She worked with a dear friend’s daughter, her father is friends with my uncle, she took her taxis from the same taxi stand my family uses, and she was only a few years older than my eldest daughter. 

On hearing and following Andrea’s harrowing story, the rawness I felt for Ashanti Riley came back in full force. I also knew I was not alone. The honourable prime minister, my family, my colleagues, my friends and constituents every day hoped against hope that all would be well. 

Photo: A memorial for Andrea Bharatt.

The honourable prime minister publicly implored any person who knew anything about her disappearance to come forward. Via Facebook posts, I like many others asked people to speak up and speak out. 

I remember the rage, profound sadness and devastation we all felt when we heard the news. News like other crimes—particularly crimes against women—do not or should not have a political colour.

Which brings me to the individual called Sally Sooman. When Sally Sooman emerged as the family spokesperson, I felt a familiar sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I pushed it aside because I sincerely hoped that Ms Sooman would not allow her personal politics to arise. Unfortunately, I was wrong.

It was on Facebook on 19 April 2019 that she accused Dr Keith Rowley and all Tobagonian men of being rapists. I was shocked and immediately challenged her. She quickly blocked me, but I was able to get a few screenshots of her vile utterances. 

Ms Sooman then proceeded to attack me personally.

Image: A post made by one of the Facebook accounts believed to be managed by Sally Amy Sooman, which makes a vile accusation against Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.

I am not totally surprised at Ms Sooman inserting herself in tragic circumstances. Around May 2019, one of my cousins in the USA lost her daughter in a tragic car accident. On that occasion Ms Sooman claimed to be my cousin’s best friend and self-appointed liaison for my family, who barely remembered her—as my cousin had been a US citizen for several decades.

I say all of this to let the nation know that I am very much aware of the type of person Ms Sooman is and I am also aware of what political party she supports. I had hoped that party politics, petty agendas, wretched obsessions would be set aside for the greater good.

However, it is clear to me now that Ms Sooman cannot put aside her political agenda.

Ironically, I have never met Ms Sooman, however several persons who had encounters with her and know her are very willing to go on record with their own stories of their encounters with Ms Sooman. 

For these women as well as myself, she could never be a standard bearer for women’s issues.

Photo: Sally Amy Sooman (left) and the late Andrea Bharatt.

Despite all that happened previously I had still sincerely wished that she would channel her energies into meaningful change. Yet I was not surprised when she lashed out at Dr Rowley. Disappointed, yes, but not surprised.

I have no doubt she assisted the bereaved family through a difficult time. I applaud her for that. I am now imploring her to put aside her politics. To not taint Andrea’s impact with cheap political shots. 

Meaningful change is occurring. For the first time in six years, the Opposition has cooperated with the government. I voted ‘aye’ with my colleagues and when the Opposition Leader spoke, she said ‘I will vote yes this time, but that will not help you’. 

I felt the same way when I saw the Sunday Guardian’s headline and Sally Sooman’s post. Disappointed but not surprised.

As a woman, a mother, daughter, sister, I consider it an honour to serve under a leader such as our Prime Minister Dr Rowley. A man who consistently puts women and our issues on the front burner. So, I would defend him vehemently when he is wrongfully accused.

Photo: Prime minister Dr Keith Rowley (left) and his wife Sharon Rowley (centre) observe the Independence Day Parade on 31 August 2018.
(Copyright Ministry of National Security)

A friend stated recently we cannot legislate the hearts of men. We cannot but you can press on your 41 elected representatives to put aside differences to fix what is broken in the system. 

We must each be able to say we will put the people first. I know that we are willing, I also know I serve under a leader who is more than able.

But I must ask: is the Opposition truly willing or able?

Editor’s Note: Wired868 has offered Sally Sooman the opportunity to respond to Lisa Morris-Julian’s assertion, via requests to her multiple Facebook pages.

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  1. I was really taken aback by Ms Sooman’s disrepect. for the PM. She claims that they did not want Andrea’s funeral to be tainted with politics but yet in a clear political move she invited the opposition leader to make a presentation. Why didn’t she invite the MP for the area. I am happy that the P M did not attend. He had enough class to know that it would have lead to accusations of playing politics. So, having not lured the PM into a trap, she opted to spew her venom in the newspapers. Thank you MP Morris-Julien for reminding us about this dangerous snake parading as a concerned cousin

  2. I believe that crime can’t be so prevalent in a small country live ours unless it is being facilitated by the Police law association and the judiciary at some level. They are where I think we should start.

  3. I believe that crime can’t be so common and it appears to be prosperous in our country unless it is being facilitated by the Police the Law association and the judiciary. That is where we need to start.

  4. Politics or not ,the point is she didnt send an invite, & PM never said she did.. so everybody need to calm down & stop looking for attention now on the matter ….

    Let the main person of the subject (R.I.P) please…

  5. Truly a piece written with the emotional intelligence it deserves. Sometimes the messenger is so vile and full of deceit that we have to question their intentions. Sally Sooman finds ways to draw our goodly PM into the discussion so that she can sully his name. Not this time Sally. Thanks Lisa, we got it. I am glad you called her out. She I playing follow the leader, which sometimes could leader you to a point of no return.

  6. It is type of classless behaviour the UNC and their supporters are well known for. It’s a pity the bereaved family allowed their misfortunte and in particular the death of their beloved daughter to be turned into a political spectacle. Their sole interest was P.R. (seizing upon an opportunity to sanitize their sullied image) and straight up, an attempt at gaining whatever political mileage the Bharat’s grief could afford them.

  7. Somebody must remind our leaders that our nations motto is together we aspire together we achieve.

  8. Well done Honorable MP. Ms Sooman should be ashamed to have denigrated this solemn occasion with her trashy cheap politics.

  9. Lisa Morrris with the racist Facebook post about Lebanese Syrians years ago bringing up other people’s past post?
    What a joke!!

    • Why is morris-julian BEGGING leopardS to change their spots?? STOP BEGGING! The true feelings hidden benath this fake, race-coded activism is the same as the feelings expressed after they lost 2015 and last years general election. You cannot reason with that type of “love” !!

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    • Wow Sally. You came up with Salacious as a pseudonym on your own?

      *slow clap*

    • Hey Sooman we know this is you . The facts are that your party as late as November last year did not vote to give the CoP the tools that he needed i.e The Gang and Bail amendment bills to strengthen his hand against the criminals in this country. As I have said before and will continue to repeat it the UNC was riding shot-gun and held down Ashanti and Andrea while they were raped and murdered. Your party choose to do nothing to fight crime because your leader thought it was a winning political strategy so while you were consoling Andrea’s father I hope you told him that well boy your daughter was just collateral damage and another UNC mantra politics has a morality of it’s own. What makes you truly despicable you all remain very quite when Ashanti Riley was murdered and now have moral outrage and indignation for Andrea Bharrat murder or is it because she is Indo-Trini. Clearly your all are not fit to lead or govern this country.

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