The Linden deaths: Where does Guyana go from here?
How can any citizen of this country accept the process of governmental administration as business as usual when three protestors were fired upon and killed and two dozen are in the hospital some with serious injuries? In a small country without any pattern of violent demonstrators trying to kill policemen, why were live rounds fired into a school of protestors killing a number of them? And should there be no consequences for those who exercise naked power in this land?
This is the balance sheet from the Government side since the Wednesday tragedy. It will not order a cancellation of the increase; the Minister of Home Affairs and the Prime Minister will not be sanctioned in any way whatsoever. There would not be even a portfolio shift for these two men.
The police commander, Mr. Clifton Hicken, will be transferred. Now mind you, not demoted or sacked or charged, but sent to another section of the police force. This becomes more than insulting when you think that this was his final months in the job at Linden. Hicken was leaving his post in December for reassignment anyway.
From the Government’s side then, it is business as usual. Peaceful picketers were gunned down, reminiscent of governmental terror in Arab countries since last year, and it is business as usual in Guyana. So far there has been not even a hint of compensation.
In other words, the Guyana Government has shown no change in policy in any area of power whatsoever since the horrible deaths of these victims. It is business as usual.
What is the balance sheet from the opposition benches? APNU will determine the shape of an inquiry; Parliament will debate the issue, July 25. In both of these areas the balance sheet is comical and hardly deserves the respect of this nation.
First, why would APNU want to format the inquiry without first consulting important actors who stood with Lindeners since the electricity hike was announced in April? A name that comes to mind is the TUC, whose General Secretary, Lincoln Lewis, is regarded as a trustworthy ally by Lindeners. Surely, APNU cannot be that stupid not to bring the AFC on board on such an unprecedented attack on the fabric of this brittle nation.
We may be witnessing the bypassing of the opposition parties on this crisis and the aggrieved numbers out there may be likely to determine their own action. At the time of writing, I participated in two large demonstrations for the Linden martyrs. Among the ranks of the picketers are feelings of disrespect for the opposition, especially in the failed meeting between the combined APNU/AFC delegation and the political directorate last Thursday.
What APNU and AFC must realize is that each time they meet with the President and they come up empty-handed they look foolish in the eyes of the supporters. The vibes I have received from being among the picketers is that they want to see a change in the way this country is governed.
Then on Friday evening I spoke on the platform of the Youth Coalition for Transformation. The attendance was massive. Anyone with a normal mind and commonsense who attended that rally will tell you that there was a fever pitch atmosphere. People were in no mood to be pacified on the barbarous act of killing peaceful demonstrators. The call was clear from that gathering – they want a change in the way power has been used by the PPP Government.
The opposition (both APNU and AFC) are courting trouble if they go into Parliament, make a gargantuan expression of indignation over the killing, pass an angry resolution and nothing happens the next day, the next month, the next year. Only one result can come from that. People are going to replace faith in the opposition with disrespect.
The simple fact is that on July 25 in Parliament, there will be opposition denunciation of the bestial use of naked power last Thursday that resulted in deaths. There will be the passage of a motion calling for a wide range of measures. Then it will be business as usual for the Government as the MPs from the PPP drive out of the compound in their expensive cars and back to the office, then in the night to the night club.
What is so tragic about what is going to happen on July 25 is that the horrible deaths of innocent human rights activists will become a spectacle that will reinforce the farce that is a country named Guyana.