The collective development of this nation will remain hindered by those who can only accept as good, actions when driven by persons they support, and said or similar actions as bad when utilized by persons whom they do not support.
This nation was birthed out of and sustained through struggles and divisions.
Bringing an end to divisions necessitates continuous struggles premised on: a) an honest assessment of our reality -past, present and future; b) respect for rights and the rule of law for self and others; and c) holding public officials accountable to the people. The combination of the three (3) will work to the interest of the common good, creating an environment for peaceful co-existence and development. Only then will true meaning be given to our motto, “One People One Nation One Destiny”- a state of national unity.
Having taken note of the public’s discourse for and against the current social action, including the December 6 police shooting of the demonstrators, it is disturbing, though not surprising, to find rejection for the demonstrators and demonstration, and support for the police and their barbarity. Reference is made of Cheddi Jagan, projected to this nation as a hero, who built a reputation as a staunch agitator/protestor from the colonial era, including his stewardship as premier, PPP Leader, Member of the National Assembly, Minority Leader, and assumption to the presidency in 1992. He is deliberately selected because his activisms unmask the two worlds (double standards) lived in this society.
Jagan is well known for his protests in public places such as the Governor’s mansion, speaking and assembling freely, and engaging in various acts of civil disobedience.
In pursuit of results he was demeaned and ridiculed by the colonial authorities, their supporters and the compliant, who branded him disruptive and a menace to society. His actions were despised because they disturbed the business sector, the plantocracy, the economy, and the social order. He was abused and jailed but remained unrelenting in his stance and convictions.
In the early 1960s he presided over a nation that witnessed violence, including racial violence which left the two major races hurting and bruised, a comprehensive inquiry into the period is still to be done, but this did not still his voice or keep him off the streets.
In the post-independence era, the cordiality between him and Forbes Burnham, and later Desmond Hoyte, never saw him abandoning his fights or his rights.
In fact he utilized various forms of action to bring attention to the issues that mattered to him and his supporters, including economic sabotage, civil disobedience, international lobbying, and public outbursts. His behaviour in the National Assembly was known to all as he vociferously and demonstratively brought home his points, even as he never quit utilizing the streets as a platform for social action.
He had the support of those who believed in what he was doing and those respecting his right to self-determination through expression and assembly, including supporters of the then political establishment.
Jagan’s activisms are immortalized in our history. He is lauded and projected as worthy of emulation.
But while his struggles brought achievements for some, they have not brought for all. And in so far that this remains a reality, people will continue to struggle to achieve what’s rightly theirs. Interestingly, though his struggles are praised and his stories recounted with admiration, the replication of his methods by others is met with outright rejection and contempt by some of the very people who heap praises on him. The question now becomes: Are such actions only good/praiseworthy when applied by Jagan? Or, are the rights of some more important than the rights of others? Is there an acceptance that all are equal but some are more equal than others?
It is also noted the application of a fear factor that previous protests led to violence. Though accepting that no one should be violated and still calling on the relevant authority to commission an inquiry, does such fear warrant immobilizing others in their quest for justice, or has it become the clutch to deny others what’s rightly theirs?
And if this is not so, shouldn’t this fear become cause for positive action by asking those responsible to serve and protect, to carry out their responsibility consistent with law and order, which also includes respecting the rights of citizens to public expression and assembly, and conforming to Standard Operating Procedure. Shouldn’t we collectively hold public officials accountable for doing their jobs and express intolerance for those seeking to use these events to engage in public mischief?
What remains the elephant in the room is the disdain for replicated social action when employed by some, coupled with the disinterest in acknowledging the cause(s) that created the need for such action and the failure to hold public officials accountable for addressing same.
Evidently, the society has evolved but not for the good of all. The fact that the solidarity, tolerance and heroism for Jagan and his methods are not favourably seen when utilized by some, the same should not be seen as deterrence to those pursuing what’s rightly theirs. What it confirms is that such pursuits need not rely on automatic cross sectional support/tolerance but rather on adherence to universal declarations and constitutional guarantees which must also include holding Jagan’s admirers accountable to these tenets, because it is only when these are secured that struggles no longer become relevant.
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