I refer to Mr. F. Kissoon’s letter, “Gentlemen, let the games begin!” (Kaieteur News 01-10-10).
From the onset of my intervention in 2008 to caution Mr. Kissoon to “take care” about the tone of his polemics in our very combustible political atmosphere, I have asked him to consider the “consequences” of his daily call to arms. It is now obvious that Mr. Kissoon views the exchange as a game, with no consequences for the wider society. I have no desire in participating in such “games” where the choices are potentially life or death for innocent citizens.
However, Mr. Kissoon, attempts to evade one of the charges I had made about his historiography by suggesting that since I was just accusing him of falsifications and he could make the same charge against me, so we will get nowhere continuing down that route. But I did not simply make the accusation. In a response to the Peeper I suggested a framework for evaluating the various revisionisms that were being proffered about our historical records. As a “first cut”, I suggested that we look at the new “facts” that are being offered to buttress changing older historical conclusions. If the “facts” are patently made up or not supported by the historical evidence we have a good case for suspecting that we might be dealing with negative revisionism or negationism.
In my article “The Falsifications of History” of 11-29-09, I examined the “facts” presented by Mr. Kissoon in his article, “The blind man and the black cat” 11-14-09 to support his conclusions about “the role of violence in the history of the PPP”. One of his conclusions was that “The PPP has a long association with torture” unlike the PNC, which “never tortured the people it placed before the courts for political crimes.” Lest I be accused of changing this latest historical record, I quote from my article, “Mr. Kissoon invoked the account of “the respected political activist, Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine, who wrote in a letter to the press that when he and other WPA activists were charged in 1979 with arson of a Ministry building, they were not tortured.”
In an earlier column, “This is a historic letter” 07-28-09, Mr. Kissoon had flatly concluded from Dr Roopnarine’s narrative: “The PNC administration never tortured the people it placed before the courts for political crimes.” Because it suited his purposes, Mr. Kissoon not only committed the fallacy of hasty generalization, but wilfully traduced the historical record.
When back in July, I first noticed Dr Roopnarine’s silencing of the record of the PNC’s history on torture, I wondered if it was a Trouillotian one: “an active and transitive process”…Back in 1995, he had written very eloquently in SN, (“In the sky’s wild noise”) not only about his PNC-directed arrest for arson, but also of the vicious torture of several individuals from Zeeburg/De Willem on accusations of treason: “It emerged that the five men had been beaten without mercy night and day, burned on their bodies by cigarettes, had their heads forced into full toilet bowls with no plumbing, made to kiss stray dogs brought in from the streets and generally subjected to a level of barbarism normally associated with the artists from the old Chilean and South African security services.”
Dr Roopnarine’s narrative lacuna was filled in the following month (August) by Elder Eusi Kwayana, (who quoted from Dayclean) and one of the tortured men, Ralph Saywack, who claimed it was actually 15 of them who had been tortured over six days. I was thus quite taken back when Mr. Kissoon repeated Mr. Roopnarine’s original exculpation of the PNC from torture in November. What else could this be but the active silencing by a negative revisionist, bent of twisting history?
In the same article, Mr. Kissoon contraposed the PNC’s putatively exemplary restraint to the PPP’s “long association with torture” where, he claims “In the sixties…a PNC political activist (Emmanuel Fairbairn called “Batson”) …was brutally tortured by the police during the reign of Premier Cheddi Jagan.” The slanted word “reign” implied that Jagan had practically “monarchical” authority over, and responsibility for, the then British Guiana (B.G.) Police. A cursory check of the records would have revealed that Fairbain was tortured on August 9th 1964 to confess to the bombing of the PPP Bookstore (and murder of Michael Forde) on 17th July 1964.
Two months before the torture, on June 1st, Mrs. Janet Jagan had resigned as Minister of Home Affairs, protesting against actions and inactions of the Police during the ongoing racial conflagration in which she was completely ignored by the police hierarchy. B.G. was still a colony and Police Commissioner Peter Owen officially reported directly to the British Governor after the resignation as he had unofficially done before.”
Could Mr. Kissoon explain his above falsifications and point out some of mine to support his charge that I also practice negationism.
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