There is little public sympathy for those who are engaged in criminal activities. This is why there is not going to be any great public condemnation over the shooting on Saturday last of a chain-snatcher.
If on the other hand, this snatching was done one block away from Freedom House and the man had fallen dead in front of the headquarters of the ruling party, there would have been conspiracy theories as to who was the shooter.
Similarly, if the shooter was a pro-government politician and political mileage could have been made over the incident, there would have been mass demonstrations in the city.
This is how this country operates. This is one of the tragedies of living in badly divided polis.
Principles always become victims to political expediency. I remember the exhaling that took place when the criminal called Inspector Gadget was killed.
There was not a single call for his death at the hands of phantoms. There was no outcry that despite his criminal past he ought not to have been killed.
There was only relief that this robber-rapist suspected to be part of a large criminal enterprise operating out of the East Coast of Demerara would no longer be a threat to the law-abiding citizens in Guyana.
When Rondell ‘Fineman’ Rawlins was however killed, there was all manner of criticisms as to why he was not brought in alive – as if Guyana’s Most Wanted was prepared to surrender. However, there are many who saw Rawlins as a destabilizing force in the country and regardless of the innocent lives that he took, condemned his death at the hands of the security forces in the same way as thousands gave a hero’s send-off to notorious killer Linden ‘Blackie’ London.
When during the crime wave a number of suspected criminals began turning up dead, there was little protest about who was doing the deeds.
However, no sooner was it suggested that there may have been a political link to the killings, a big hue and cry was raised.
Similarly, when the government was claiming that there was a link between the criminals and political elements within the opposition, there was stout denial.
In fact, those denying the political connection tried to argue that the crime wave was drug-related, despite one of the prison escapees going on television and claiming that he was engaged in a political struggle,
Since the shooting of that chain-snatcher on Saturday there have been many persons who have been saying that the dead man deserved what he got because he had no right to be robbing anyone.
The family of the dead man is however saying that he should not have been shot. No one is likely to take them seriously because this is the sort of hypocritical society in which we live, one in which there are double standards.
What was highly unfortunate was the length of time that the man was allowed to lie on the pavement unattended to. There were hundreds of citizens nearby but none ventured to render any assistance to the man, who from all accounts was already dead, but who ought to have been rushed to the hospital, regardless.
There was also a police presence while the man lay dead on the pavement in the pouring rain.
Why didn’t any of these police ranks place the man’s body into the police pickup and take him to either the funeral parlour or mortuary.
The reason is simple; he was seen as a thief and in Guyana there is little sympathy for wrongdoers unless some political mileage can be had.
Guyanese must be more consistent. We cannot condemn certain killings and ignore others. We cannot criticize inaction by the authorities when at the same time a man is allowed to remain for a long time in the pouring rain without any attempt to take him to the hospital or to the mortuary.
If we truly believe in a society based on the rule of law, it has to be the rule of law for everyone. Criminals must be treated as human beings despite the fact they are operating outside of the law.
We must be prepared to act within the law in curbing lawlessness.
But more importantly we cannot afford, as is so often the case, to be politically selective about human rights.
If a man in tortured, regardless of whether he was suspected to be involved in criminal activities, his torture must be condemned in the same way as would the roughing up of an innocent person.
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