WHY ARE WE LOOKING BACKWARDS
By Ralph Seeram
The 1960’s were undoubtedly the darkest period in Guyanese history. The racial conflagration of the period resulted in arson, looting, murder and the displacement of thousands of Afro and Indo Guyanese. The ethnic violence caused many villages to remain either Afro or Indo Guyanese. The Indians were chased out of the predominantly African villages while the Indo Guyanese chased the Afro Guyanese from their predominantly Indian villages.
Whether they want to accept it or not, both the PNC and the PPP were responsible for the unrest. It does not matter at this time who started what, both parties share the blame for the unrest, and believe me, there is a lot of blame to go around. I bring this up after reading the exchanges between Vishnu Bisram and Hamilton Green.
I really could not fathom the reason why these two are dredging up the past. Resurrecting old wounds is really not conducive to racial harmony today. Why is the discourse going backwards?
History has taught us that racialism fears surfaces around elections, when both major parties in an effort to shore up their base, go back to the past. These elections, I feel, would be different. I think the Guyanese have passed that stage and would vote on issues rather than race. The challenge for the major political parties is to cross the racial divide, if they want to win the election.
Coming back to the exchanges between Hamilton Green and Vishnu Bisram, Mr. Green should be careful what he wishes for. A truth commission could result in Green being a guest at Camp Street. Some crimes do not have a statue of limitations.
I have lived through the 1960’s and 70’s in Guyana and as a journalist then, saw Mr. Green in action. I have no respect for him. Green in his heyday was a power drunk bully. He should be thankful that Dr Cheddi Jagan, when he was elected to power, rather than seeking retribution and investigating the PNC for its wrongdoings, chose to move the country forward, rather than looking back.
Sure, we should learn from the past, but the discourse should be more forward thinking. Moving Guyana forward should be the priority and the Guyanese voters will have an excellent opportunity in the coming election to choose who they think is better suited to improve their lives.
This brings me to another subject that has been bothering me for some time. At what point can we hear the President or Minister of Home affairs condemn police brutality. Ever so often we hear of accusations of police brutality, evidenced by pictures published by Kaieteur News, the latest being the invasion of a nightclub and assaulting the owners and its employees.
Does the Government realize that these types of police actions find their way in the U S Department of State Country reports? I have not read one word emanating from the Government or the Police Commissioner condemning police brutality; no strong statement of the consequences of such action. To me, this silence could be interpreted by some ranks that it is ok to do as they please. I am still to read of a police officer before the court for assaulting members of the public. These rogue police need to be dismissed from the Force. The police want to move their crime fighting abilities to an intelligence driven mode, guess what, that depends on cooperation and the level of confidence the public has in the police. How much confidence does the Guyanese public have in the police force now? I think readers know the answer.