People have always been saying that governments are cruel and vindictive. They do not take kindly to people who oppose them. There are counties in which those who oppose the government are locked away in jail. There are numerous such cases, not least among them the Middle East countries, Cuba, and some African countries. South Africa before independence was a glaring example.
It was in that country that Nelson Mandela, one of the great men to walk the earth, spent 26 years in jail after he was arrested in 1962 and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment with hard labour.
In 1963, Mandela was brought to stand trial for plotting to overthrow the government by violence.
On June 12, 1964, eight of the accused, including Mandela, were sentenced to life imprisonment. Nelson Mandela was released on February 11, 1990.
In some cases, the dissidents, for that is what they are called, are placed under house arrest, barred from talking to even their close friends and relatives. In others, they are locked away as threats to the society, sometimes for years only to be released when they are ill, old or at the behest of some foreign institution.
Just a few months ago Cuba released some of its dissidents, then shipped them to Spain. That country was simply not happy to have people criticize the nature of government even as they remain citizens.
In the Arab countries of Tunisia and Egypt and Libya, there were many people in jail for all manner of perceived crimes against the state. Most of these were people who dared to criticize what passed for governance.
Nelson Mandela was one of the critics who came out of their period of confinement to be even bolder. He became the President after the first elections that allowed every citizen to vote. But this is one of the rare cases.
Another was Mohandas Mahatma Gandhi who was jailed repeatedly by the British for daring to protest the continued occupation of his country. Such was his determination that he was to see his country to independence in 1948.
These stories, however, seem to have little or no impact on some Governments. They continue their oppressive ways. But the same cannot be said of this country although there is evidence that the government is not kind to its critics.
A case in point is the recent reaction as evidenced by publications in the state media. Ever since Sunday there has been the continued publication of a particular WikiLeaks report on the Publisher of this newspaper. By its own admission, the government is of the view that these WikiLeaks cables are nothing but hearsay and innuendos; that they are the interpretations of diplomats based on conversations with a variety of people.
Indeed, the state media has largely ignored these cables, perhaps because they are more often than not critical of aspects of the government general and President Bharrat Jagdeo in particular.
It therefore begs the question of why publish the very hearsay about Glenn Lall. The suggestion is that the government is so angry with him and his newspaper it will do anything to detract from the revelations of corrupt activities that seem to abound.
The solitary angle in the state media reports is that Mr Lall once peddled shoes for a living, that he knew people in the underworld and that he shared some views with people who in turn exchanged those very views with a United States envoy.
After two publications of the same issue the government media then took the things to a new level, suggesting that Mr Lall reported on certain drug dealings. This is most wicked, irresponsible and dangerous.
For a government to do this is to suggest that it has resorted to the gutter to detract from the constant exposes of corrupt practices. As fate would have it, any association with drug dealers would be incidental since people in this country associate with each other at some time or the other.
Whoever these drug dealers on whom Mr Lall reported are nebulous. Neither WikiLeaks nor the state media can name them. We now await the publication of WikiLeaks cables on other people who may have had the courage to call out the government on corruption.
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