Feb 14, 2011 Letters
I respond to Tacuma Ogunseye’s letter, “Harripaul’s embrace of the AFC boggles the mind,” (Kaieteur News 02-12-11). I thank Tacuma for his praise of me. I consider him an old comrade since we both fought the PNC dictatorship in the streets in the latter 1970’s. I always salute him as a principled person whose quest for truth caused him to confront Burnham and led to Tacuma’s imprisonment. I hold him in very high regard and it “boggles” my mind that he wrote that I had embraced the AFC.
Maybe he wants to “force my hand” in saying who I support or could it be that he mistook my criticisms of both the PPP and the PNCR as support for the AFC? While it is true that I have many friends in the AFC, including its presidential candidate Khemraj Ramjattan, I am not a member, nor supporter of the AFC. I never expressed support for the AFC. However I do wish them well.
In fact at this point in time I am not a supporter of any party. I did however publicly state that Brig Granger of the PNCR would make an excellent President if he were to be so elected. But of course he first has to win the PNCR’s nomination. So maybe I may end up supporting a Granger led PNCR. However, should I do so it will be as an “Indian Rights Activist,” and not as a subservient Indian. I will continue to speak the truth. I will now deal with the episodes of violence starting with the latter 1990’s.
Whilst I agree with Tacuma that the PPP was directly responsible for much of the violence in the latter 1990’s I disagree with him over the labeling of the murdered businessmen as drug operatives and that they were killed by drug rivals. This is the same line that was peddled by the PPP leadership in NY and I was always dumfounded by it and wondered where on earth the PPP fabricated such a story.
Tacuma revealed that it was the Police Commissioner, Laurie Lewis who had stated that the killings were the result of drug deals gone bad. Exactly when did Laurie Lewis know that the Indian businessmen were drug operatives? Was it before they were killed? If so how come he never had any of them arrested and charged? Did he know they were targeted for death? If so did he warn them that they were marked for death? How come none of the killers were ever brought to justice?
It seems to me that Laurie Lewis was guilty of dereliction of duty and that he was part of the problem. It was the same Laurie Lewis who in servitude to the PNCR in 1980, on the day after Walter Rodney was assassinated, drove around Georgetown flashing the “V” sign. It was the same Laurie Lewis who a week after the PPP took office in 1992 issued police guns and ammunition to the PPP just as the GDF had issued arms to the PNC/House of Israel in 1978. It was the same Laurie Lewis who stymied the Monica Reece murder investigation in 1993 to protect the son of a PPP minister. We know not whom Laurie Lewis was really serving in the era of the violence, but it certainly was not the people, nor the constitution, of Guyana.
Whilst I am not at all surprised that the PPP idiots believed the Commissioner of Police I am surprised that a man of Tacuma’s intellect would rely on his statement to make a case, unless off course he has deviated from the path of truth.
If the Indian businessmen were all drug dealers as Laurie Lewis, the PPP, and Tacuma would have us believe, what then were the poor Indians whose homes were also attacked? Indians living in shacks were also besieged. What class of criminals were they assigned to? As far as I know drug lords don’t live in shacks. No Tacuma the businessmen who were killed were not drug operatives. If they were then the police were “accomplices” to the shootings. In almost all the cases the police never responded to the crimes in progress even when they were being committed a quarter mile away as was the case of Ramanand on the WBD.
Rama lived a quarter of mile away from the La Grange Police Station when in 1999 his house was attacked. His wife called the police but the call was not answered. She then called his friend Paul Chung who lived three miles away in Canal #1.
Paul heard the sound of gunfire as he rushed to Rama’s assistance. Rama was shot twice in the abdomen but he returned fire and killed the gang leader. When the police did arrive at Rama’s house, Paul was about to take him to the hospital.
The police recognised the dead criminal as Conelly, who was an ex-cop. The police were visibly upset that Conelly had been killed and demanded to know if Rama had a gun licence. Paul was not allowed to leave until the licence was produced.
The police also said they did not hear the sound of gunfire. That was the typical response of Laurie Lewis’ police to attacks on Indians in those days. Who were the police serving in those days? Who was the Commissioner of Police serving?
Tacuma relied on the Commissioner of Police to make his case that the Indian businessmen who were killed in the latter 1990’s were involved in the drug trade and that they were murdered because of soured drug deals. I have shown that the Police Commissioner’s statement does not stand up to scrutiny. It is at best an admission of his ignominious failure to maintain law and order. The PPP leadership offered it as an excuse for the violence and their failings.
Whilst the PPP refused to hold an inquiry into the violence, a group of middle class Indians formed an organisation called GIFT. That body held its own inquiry into the violence against Indians.
The report came to be known as the GIFT Report and it documents in detail the carnage. Unfortunately the GIFT members were unwilling to confront the PPP and the organisation soon petered out. It is indeed a crying shame that the Indian middle class refused to emulate the African class which led the struggle against PNC dictatorship. I now move on to the 2000’s when drug lords were indeed involved in the mayhem.
Contrary to what Tacuma wrote, I have on several occasions written about the nature of the violence in the 2000’s and I have always held the PPP regime liable for the carnage.
That is not to say that a few PNC well-wishers were all like Mahatma Gandhi in the whole affair. I will not go into a description of the killings, but a short contrast of this period with the late 1990’s will further nullify the statement by the Police Commissioner Laurie Lewis.
In the latter 1990’s there was no retaliation by the group of businessmen who were being systematically murdered by armed gangs.
This was because they were just regular folks with no organisational and material means of going after the gangs. In the 2000’s some gangs attacked real drug lords who responded with their own narco squads that eventually left over two hundred young Africans dead.
In the late 1990’s only one African was killed. Interestingly, when the real drug lords were operational neither the police nor the PPP leaders said anything about the killings being drug related. A point to note also is that Laurie Lewsi during the 2000’s was a “security adviser” to the regime. I wonder what advice he gave for US$20,000 per month!!
Tacuma wrote of PPP thug Chowtie, “This band of Indian assassins was known to stage incursions in several selected Indian communities spreading mayhem whereever they went.” Tacuma should ask the former Commissioner of Police Laurie Lewis about this band because it was he who issued self loading rifles and ammunition to the PPP thugs in late 1992. Let me state here that I was, and I am, totally against political parties having thugs, arms, and an armed wing. This is a throwback to the PPP/PNC conflict of the 1960’s when both parties had terrorist outfits. The PNC had the X-13 gang and the PPP had the Peoples Liberation Army.
In a democracy there is no place for thugs and terrorist units. That in the year 1992 the PPP armed its thugs when it resumed political office was indicative that it was never interested in democracy but in naked power.
I close by assuring my friend Tacuma that I am committed not just to regime change but also a change in our political culture, and I am very confident that a Granger led PNCR can usher in a new era free of fear.
Guyana needs a special leader to take it out of its current morass by swiftly removing the drug lords and their machinery from society. This is the first prerequisite to restoring law and order and morality. And only Brig Granger can do it.
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