Mr. Seeram: What if three cane-cutters were killed by the police in a similar scenario?
I enjoyed reading Ralph Seeram’s article titled: “The Opposition wants to take Guyana back to the Sixties” (KN, July 29th).
Seeram makes nice-sounding arguments: Opposition must share the blame, their backing out of the negotiations led to protests which in turn led to deaths of three protesters; no condemnation of so-called “peaceful protesters” who are engaged in banditry etc. Seeram also raised the specter of the 1960’s racial conflict: Opposition in that bygone era created a “monster” which they could not control.
The reality is that a repeat of the Sixties is not likely to happen. Why not? Those disturbances of the Sixties were designed and paid for by the CIA and had a clear objective, namely, to bring down the government. Today no foreign govt. is interfering in anything.
Still, could a purely internal political matter lead to racial conflict today? This is still an open question. And, Seeram, as a weekly columnist has great responsibilities in helping to shape public opinion to avoid the possibility of racial conflicts re-emerging in Guyana. All of our politics are still openly racial. Those recent campaigns were all about ethnic voting for ethnic parties.
We still have ethnic parties openly practicing racial politics today, long after their founder-leaders for life have passed on. If Seeram would use his powerful pen to help end the existence of ethnic parties – and if it does come to an end – then we would be able to guarantee that racial conflict would never return to the fatherland.
I also think Mr. Seeram has studiously and deliberately avoided the core issue of this “Linden crisis”. The core issue is : Should police use live bullets and shoot to kill peaceful protesters, even if they blocked a bridge and disregarded police warnings? Tear gas and water cannons have been proven to be effective weapons to disperse protesters the world over.
So why did the police shoot to kill? Who gave the order? Home Affairs Minister Rohee has to take personal and collective responsibility for these deaths. He does not understand his basic Ministerial responsibility. He lacks the education and training to understand it. Rohee created the anything-goes culture in law enforcement that allowed these killings of peaceful protesters to take place.
Rohee and his staff should have been monitoring the event in real-time on cell- and I-phones, and should have been in communication minute-by-minute with the Police Commander on the scene. In any event a Police Commander cannot give shoot-to-kill orders when he is dealing with protesters. Such decisions should have been above his pay-grade; these are decisions that can be made only by the Home-Affairs Minister or the President.
Minister Rohee must resign today and let the president appoint a well-educated and trained professional to take over the law enforcement portfolio.
One last question for Mr. Seeram: Would you make the same nice neat arguments to defend the government, if three cane-cutters were killed by the police in a similar scenario?