Why did Rohee not act as the Home Affairs Minister did in 1962?
I wish to join those who have mourned in public the loss of three precious lives, and to join those who have denounced the opening of deadly fire on citizens protesting for whatever reason. I was in Guyana for my brother’s funeral when on December 6,2011 the police, under the same Minister, opened fire with rubber bullets and pellets on non violent protestors.
“Our actions are usually in the interest of the maintenance of law and order in its statement, according to Caribinsight.
OneVoiceCanWin reported that the Home Affairs Ministry and then Police Chief expressed regret. No one was able to claim that the marchers were violent. This healthy attitude of the marchers should have been the big news that week. In fact the discipline seemed to scare those who squat on the top of society.
During that December week, a newspaper Stabroek News, questioned me about the post- election situation and reported my opinion fairly. My sense was that the people were ready for big things. People of all races, mainly Guyanese, had helped us to afford the visit home. Staying in Buxton, I noted that the great majority of the people I talked with, the young men who held me at a night spot, the visitors, were opposition supporters, with a majority of one in the elected assembly. There was not the usual post- election hostility in the air. I heard not a word of bitterness.
The elected representatives and the Ministers of the minority government set about their various duties as they thought fit, or as they were able. Seven months after December, 2011, on July 18, citizens of Linden announced a week of protest and began on the first day. It was near midnight Pacific Time, when I heard the sad news that “four or five” Lindeners had been shot dead. I chose the smaller number and sent out a private alert that “four” had been killed. I correct myself publicly; thankfully, not four, but three had fallen. The Police Commissioner of December, then a felony suspect, had his Day and his Way in court and is gone. The Minister in July, 2012 is the same person. He denies being in touch with the situation at Linden on July 18. Had he not heard from the subject Minister, the Prime, Mr. Samuel Hinds?
Was the protest nothing to them?
Why did he not do like the Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. B.S. Rai, in 1962 during the Kaldor budget protest marches? It is written, and not denied:
“During the conversation Rai was surprised to learn that the Commissioner had given the order to open fire on the protestors.
Rai: Commissioner, you are the Commander of the Police?
Rai: And I am the Commander in Chief?
Rai: I am countermanding your order.
Commissioner: Very well, Sir.” ( Ramharak: Against the Grain)
Mr. Rohee might consider Mr. Rai a person of incorrect ideology. What about his example on a day of city -wide crisis?
There was no firing on protestors in 1962. Five alleged looters, not reported as protestors, were shot and killed. One man, sitting on his bike at a major road, fell from a shot, an innocent bystander.
Is there a lesson from these July sacrifices? They did not result from inter- ethnic violence. They were not due to the acts of secret vigilantes. Private agents of the State were not the actors. The deaths were the result of a disagreement between the State and its citizens in part of Region Ten. I am sure that the groups concerned and those that concern themselves, and the workers Union will get about an answer to the electricity rates. But there is a wider crisis of how the people share in the government and governance. No book by any genius gives a direct answer. We should begin with the election results. Avoiding the voice of the people in the accepted election results is just beating about the bush.
“The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.” Article 2, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948
If that declaration, is binding on Member countries of the UN, then Guyana may be once again among the outlaws..
(Dedicated to the newest people’s martyrs, Shemroy Bouyea, of Silvertown, Allan Lewis, of Wismar Hill, and Ron Somerset of Wisroc, to their mothers and loved ones, to all who live in the dwelling places of the poor and insecure everywhere.)