Too many massacres under the PPP’s watch
The most important terms of reference for the investigation into the Linden Police Shootings must be that it should be: (1) Led by external and objective officials, (2) Selected by joint agreement between the Government and the Parliamentary Opposition, (and this must include the AFC), and (3) Granted subpoena powers to summon witnesses and take testimony under oath. The Latin praise nemo iudex in sua causa, meaning simply that no one should be a judge in his own case, has poignant relevance to Guyana where our experience has shown that Due Process and the Rule of Law have become malleable instruments in the hands of the powers that be. The sincerity of a Minister waxing morally and stridently about the importance of the Police following the rules laid down to govern their conduct and behavior in the Ramnarine situation, cannot be taken seriously when juxtapositioned with earlier comments that citizens are more concerned about Christmas barrels than torture. Albert Einstein asserted that quote, “All of us who are concerned for peace and triumph of reason and justice must be keenly aware how small an influence reason and honest good will exert upon events in the political field”.
The Parliamentary opposition is invested with the charge to ensure that inquiry into this latest atrocity does not become the comedy of errors that passed for investigations into a slew of killings that have occurred in Guyana, including the Lusignan Massacre, the Agricola Massacre, the Bartica Massacre, the Sawh Massacre, the Kaieteurnews Massacre, the Vigilante Massacre, the George Bacchus massacre, and the massacre of Political Activist and journalist Ronald Waddell, to name a few. The people who went out and voted them into a parliamentary majority did not do so because they like how they looked, admired their personalities, or were mesmerized by their intellect and deportment. The people who went into those polling booths and divided the powers of Governance, assigning the executive to one side of the political spectrum and parliament to the other, clearly desired a change in the way in which things were being done when there was a monopoly in this power distribution. The Parliamentary opposition must end this insanity of “seeing tings in broad daylight and waiting til nite fo tek a firestick fo go look for them”.
The very idea that some would attempt to rationalize these shootings by implying that citizens do not have the right to protest the decision of a regime, regardless of whether that regime feels it is justified, indicate how shallow the concept of democracy is in the consciousness of many in Guyana, including officials of the state. Further, one would have to be blind, deaf and dumb not to take into account the difference in which protest is dealt with in Guyana. When citizens of Tain showed their displeasure with the manner in which Law Enforcement was operating in their community, blocked roadways and burned tires in the streets, there was not rush to use deadly force. And there should not have been any either. Ministers of the Government hastened down there to appease the residents and provide them with assurance that their concerns would receive attention. This kind of empathy does not obtain when the location is Buxton, Linden, South Ruimveldt etc. I do not believe that I need to elaborate or explain the influencing agents that drive these double standards.
In any society in which armed Police are sent to arrest Social Activist Mark Benschop for a traffic violation, while exhibiting procrastination over the arrest of persons who assaulted him causing him actual bodily harm, and so on and so forth, one has to come to the inevitable conclusion that, to paraphrase the late civil rights martyr Martin Luther King Jr., “justice is not exactly flowing down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream”. Issues like these must influence those who genuine seek to bring justice to the survivors of those gunned down in Linden for exercising their rights to peacefully protest the conditions of their existence. It does not require expertise in quantum physics to understand this.
As the opposition deliberate with the Government over the Terms of Reference for the Inquiry into the use of deadly force against peaceful protestors in Linden, I would caution them to be mindful of the ethical counsel provided by Martin Luther King Jr., to wit, “On some positions, cowardice asks the question, is it expedient? And then expedience comes along and asks the question, is it politic? Vanity asks the question, is it popular? Conscience asks the question, is it right? There comes a time when one must take the position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must do it because conscience tells him it is right.” The survivors of the men who have been taken away untimely and permanently from their loved ones in Linden are in the position of the biblical Rachel crying in the wilderness, and refusing to be comforted until “justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream” to address the atrocity that resulted in their loss.