Normal has to include justice and equality
The Stabroek News of 14 August, 2012 reports that Ms. Gail Teixeira has indicated that “Government will not be engaging with issues in Linden until normalcy is restored’
It is the Government’s version of ‘normalcy’ that the people in Linden have had to raise up against. It is tragic that Ms. Teixeira and her Government have forgotten that even during the ‘normalcy’, the Government was not engaging with Linden and the protests are a response to that lack of meaningful engagement.
A lot of us are comfortable with ‘normalcy’ – quietly adjusting to the oppression. While children were being tear-gassed over the weekend in Linden, another man privately spoke of his fear of telling his good news story about other children who did well in the CSEC exams. Normalcy in Guyana, then, is this silence, this quiet acceptance, this fear of even telling good news stories which contradict the Government’s narratives. This is what Ms. Teixeira wants Linden (and the rest of us) to resume.
The lessons from Linden should be clear for all Guyanese who reject normalcy – that normalcy of accepting corruption, accepting bad governance, normally accepting intimidation and violence, normally accepting domestic violence and the rape of children; of accepting poor standards in education and health care. Normalcy, apparently, is not trusting the police or any of the public institutions.
Linden, though, is far from the coast where normalcy prevails. So the man who is scared to share his good story is normal – while the people in Linden who have dared to take to the streets to protest are not. Ravi Dev, writing in Kaieteur News on 5 August, 2012, gives his own testimony about Albion in 2001 “As we approached we were confronted by a squad of “Black Clothes” Police. They all had automatic weapons, each with an extra cartridge strapped to their guns. The head of the detail called me forward and told me they had orders to ‘shoot to kill” if we marched on the Public Road in front of the Station. I had no reason to doubt him – there were no teargas or pellet shotguns in sight, just automatic weapons.”
Mr. Dev and Albion then it seems returned to Ms. Teixeira’s normalcy and as he wrote “I persuaded the riled up crowd to march in the street behind the station”. This is what apparently is expected that we do…we bury our dead and forget – as many of us did about Mohammed Shamshuddin.
We all have a stake in how we want to define normal in Guyana. Normal has to include justice and equality. Normal cannot be accepting that police can kill civilians without any fear of punishment. Normal cannot be tear-gassing children. Normal cannot be waiting on commissions of inquiry into killings – normal is supposed to be a functioning justice system which holds the state accountable as well.