This column is not about Mr. Bharrat Mangru, a prosecutor on the magisterial circuit. But I mention his name here because his position symbolizes the nature of the Guyanese society. I was researching the verdicts on death by dangerous driving and one particular case struck me where a driver was charged for killing a dance instructor. He offered compensation and was freed of the four serious charges he faced.
The first number I found was Mr. Mangru. I wanted to know what the law said about compensation and its relation to the course of a trial. Since Mr. Mangru was a prosecutor, I figured that he would be in a better position to know the law even more than some of my friends who are lawyers. Mr. Mangru told me he cannot speak to me. I insisted that all I wanted to know was what the law said and not his opinion. He still persisted with his position that he cannot speak to me; that the best person to do so was the DPP.
I did not accept his reaction and would not accept it from any person in this situation. All I wanted to know is, if the law permits a certain process and all he had to say was ‘yes the law stipulates that’, or ‘no, that is not in the law.’
If I call any traffic cop to ask what is the legal age to own a driver’s license? That cop has a right to give me that information. If I call the GRA and request information on the limit of foreign currency you are allowed to take out, that information should be offered.
I see nothing exceptional with how Mr. Mangru behaved; it is typical of this society where fear dominates the psychology of almost ninety-nine percent of the population. People in a land named Guyana in the Caribbean family of nations live with more trepidation in their lives than in most countries. Let us take three authoritarian countries – China, Iran and Cuba.
I doubt whether the students would be courageous enough to challenge the political status quo. But if there is a policy at the university that is not connected to state power, and it affects them emotionally they would demonstrate and picket.
Student power has been with civilization since time immemorial. Student power is one of the constants in human existence. When the Athenian court passed the death sentence on Socrates, his students rebelled. That was over two thousand years ago and since then students have kept rebelling. There is no other student population in any other country in this entire world where apathy and fear are so widespread than in Guyana.
I have seen fear come into the faces and eyes of people who complain to me as soon as I utter the words, “will you be willing to come forward?” Once I use those words the conversation ends. And I am not talking about hell-raising violations. I am referring to innocuous situations that are simply too petty for people to worry about, not like someone coming with a gun to kill them.
I met this gentleman and he asked me to publicize the plight of motorists on the harbor bridge in the mornings. I said, I will do it and cite you as one of the drivers affected. That was that! He was no longer interested in it. Someone gave me a letter to be published about road repairs. He said that when a road is being repaired, the workmen must put a sign at the head of the road so you would not have to drive through the street only to turn back because work is being done. . He asked that his name be withheld.
This young lady was in her car waiting to be attended to by a traffic cop who stopped her. I asked if he just randomly stopped her. She said yes. I showed her documents which unambiguously state that the traffic ranks are prevented from doing random pull over. The rank came up to her and I indicated to him that he cannot do routine stops. He agreed. I then said to him; “This young lady told me you just stopped her at random.” He denied it. I insisted that she repeat in front of him what she told me. She lost her voice.
The examples I gave here is just point nine nine percent of what I know about the penetration of fear in this country. And all governments since Independence want it this way so they can rule over a fearful land. But no country like this deserves to exist in such a sad state
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