Military operation preempts fair and reasonable resolution of Linden crisis
- Region Ten chairman
A military operation to preempt a fair and reasonable and amicable outcome of Linden’s “dilemma” now threatens the atmosphere of negotiation, and begs for the urgent and speedy resolution of the problems, Region Ten chairman Sharma Solomon stated yesterday.
His comments came after the government put off yesterday’s negotiation with the Linden team, which is being led by Solomon.
The meetings were expected to resolve some of the outstanding issues, including naming the members to the Technical Team that would determine the way forward for the electricity tariff in the town. It was electricity tariff increases that sparked the protest on July 18.
Solomon said it was with “much sorrow” that he learnt of the fore-dawn invasion of Linden, executed by the Joint Services at 2:00a.m, this morning, and the reports that reached him “are heart-rending.”
“I am also disappointed by the insidious manner in which President Ramotar seeks to intimidate and frustrate the efforts of this community of Linden to abandon its legitimate civil and human rights of seeking to represent their community’s concerns to the Central Government,” Solomon said in a statement.
He said that the Region Ten delegation entered into talks with Central Government in good faith and trust.
Solomon said he spent the greater part of Thursday in Georgetown working on putting the finishing touches to the documents to be submitted to the President and his delegation in efforts to resolve the impasse.
“It was our expectation that while negotiations were taking place, the government, as any other conscientious Party to these negotiations would respect the principle that such discussions would be done in an environment of mutual respect, and that they would resist any temptation to engage in any activity that would ultimately undermine our deliberations and, or incense the rather tense situation on the ground,” the Region Ten chairman stated.
Solomon declared that Lindeners want a resolution to their plight, and they want their rights to be respected.
“We want a return to normalcy, which we thought we were moving closer to. But, the Central Government, in its efforts to stymie the Linden Community’s legitimate exercise of its fundamental human and civil rights, has invoked the horrible spectre of July 18th once again in the psyche of our residents by the introduction of the Armed Forces into the mix, unmindful of their previous criminal experience. It is apparent that restoration to normalcy, according to the Government, is a return to State terrorism of our community, of our residents, of Linden,” Solomon stated.
He vowed that Lindeners will match hostility and destruction with resoluteness to remain steadfast in the face of challenges, “until justice prevails.”
“While we are weak from the standpoint that we have no weapons (which we do not need); nor the State on our side (which we need), we are convinced that we are stronger in the presence of our resilience and our quest for justice,” Solomon stated.
He said that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has declared on our side of justice and human rights.
“President Ramotar’s government has declared that the IACHR are biased for supporting our legitimate aspirations and the exercise of our legitimate and fundamental rights. The Private Sector Commission has urged the Government to meet with our Administration, our Leaders and our residents in an effort to secure an early and acceptable resolution of this crisis. President Ramotar has declared that the Private Sector Commission does not run his office!”
“We are now compelled to believe that it is the strategy of the Office of the President to allow Lindeners and the wider society to suffer. We believe that they hope to benefit from an insidious and despicable public relations campaign intended to turn public opinion and support against us,” Solomon stated.
He called on all Guyanese, particularly those who are directly and indirectly affected by the civil rights movement in Linden, to bring pressure to bear on the government to respect the rights of the people of Linden/Region Ten.
“We experienced the loss of lives and injuries on July 18, tear gas, pellets, and live ammunition; now with the invasion at 2:00 (yesterday) morning, tear gassing, and continued brutality that have forced, men, women and children out of their homes and onto the streets, will see us matching such violations with intensified steadfastness,” Sharma stated.
He restated that the proposed conditions for the return to normalcy are: “the withdrawal of the electricity tariff; the resignation of the Minister of Home Affairs, Clement Rohee, together with the interdiction of the squad that participated in the attack of July 18, 2012 with a view of identifying those who must be charged for murder and attempted murder; the establishment of a Technical Committee to examine the electricity sector in Linden and Region Ten to make recommendations to the National Assembly.
This committee shall comprise of seven persons, three appointed by the government, three appointed by Region Ten and the Chairman agreed upon by the two parties; The provision of funding for a committee to carry out a study and develop an economic programme for the region. The participants for this committee will be arrived at by the RDC, Region Ten; the immediate appointment of the Regional Land Selection Committee based on the composition of representation on the RDC, which will see representation from the APNU, AFC and PPP.
This will terminate the Office of the President’s imposition as to who are to be given lands in Region Ten; the immediate return of the television operation in Linden which was a gift to the community (received in 1980) and “seized” by the PPP government after their ascension to office (1993); the issue of the Terms of Reference for the Inquiry into the July 18, 2012 shooting of peaceful protestors, discussion must take place with the Region that has responsibility to address its citizens’ concern.
It must involve all the Parliamentary groups together with the Region. In the absence of such involvement it speaks to the imposition and disrespect that led to the current protest in Linden.”