One can’t bully his or her way into governance when rejected by the voters

May 20, 2011 | By | Filed Under Letters 

Dear Editor,
In his column of May 6, Mr. Freddie Kissoon in “Ogunseye and Hinds: Remembering the past”, penned that these two gentlemen – Tacuma Ogunseye and Dr. David Hinds – fought for the right of Guyanese to vote in free and fair elections and in the process spent three years respectively in the Camp Street jail, and as such they have a right to demand power sharing and advocate demonstrations against the PPP (kith and kin, etc.) should it win the 2011 elections. I salute these men for their activism against Burnhamism and the terror unleashed on the population during the darkest days of the dictatorship.
I saw Ogunseye at Rodney House and at other events when I visited Guyana regularly during the 1980s and early 1990s. I don’t recall Hinds in my visits in Guyana (though I have memories of Wazir Mohammed, Nigel Westmaas, etc.) but I know him from his presence in the US while studying at Howard University.
I don’t recall seeing Freddie as an activist at Rodney House. Hinds was a regular contributor on “race” in Caribbean Daylight and made presentations at seminars and meetings in New York. I don’t think anyone will question the contributions of Hinds and Ogunseye in the freedom struggle. But, contrary to what Freddie is promoting, their participation in the anti-dictatorial struggle does not give them the right to advocate lawlessness and violence against an elected government.
Many of us campaigned against the dictatorship and we have not resorted to or advocated violence against a democratically elected government. Freddie should be reminded that during every election campaign and almost every demonstration going back to the 1960s, one ethnic group has been on the receiving end of terror. Refusal to accept the outcome of a democratic election is unacceptable as it goes against the norms of democracy.
May I remind Freddie that there are many Africans (from the WPA) who fought against Burnhamism (like Eusi Kwayana, Clive Thomas, Omowale, Nigel Westmaas, etc.) but have not advocated lawlessness against a democratically elected government. There were also people in the WPA (like Rupert Roonarine, Moses Bhagwan, Wazir and Ameer Mohammed, etc.) who made great contributions against the dictatorship. But they are not calling for an uprising against the democratically elected government and they did not call for violence when the elections were rigged in 1980 and 1985 or if the 1992 elections were to be rigged.
And then there are others like Ravi Dev, Baytoram Ramharack, Paul Tennassee, Vishnu Bandhu, Vishnu Bisram, etc. who fought the dictatorship but did not call on the population to take to the streets against the dictatorship when it rigged election. We don’t support or like many things the government is doing. But we are not promoting violence.
When elections are rigged, an uprising is and should be an option. But when elections are free and fair, the outcome must be respected. One can’t bully his or her way into governance when rejected by the voters. In so doing, he or she is no different from Burnham or the dictators who refused to accept the outcome of elections like Marcos and Dgabo of Ivory Coast.
Vishnu Bisram

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