In writing about the amount of compensation the Commissioner of Inquiry (COI) awarded the relatives of three men shot to death last July in the Linden electricity hike protest, in a column of March 17, 2013 titled; “Kennard’s kennedya and Guyana’s guayacan,” I wrote the following; “Is it possible in today’s world for a man who once headed the judiciary in a CARICOM state to openly defend the award of 40 thousand American dollars (five thousand American equivalent to one million Guyanese) as compensation for the lives of three citizens?”
Two weeks before, on March 5, in another column with the caption; “Guyana: Metaphysical wasteland and parched terrain of empty nowhere,” on the same atrocity of the compensation, I made the following observation; “What is irredeemable is the position of retired appeal Court judge Justice Claudette Singh and former Judiciary Chancellor, Cecil Kennard. The same former chancellor will preside in the next two weeks on a horse racing competition where the prize money is twenty million dollars. In the coming weeks, the dust will settle on the COI report, Justices Singh and Kennard will continue to enjoy their elevated status as retired justices.”
I believe that horse race meetings in March did take place where the prize money was awesome. Now two weeks from now, Justice Kennard will be the main man at another such event co-sponsored by Digicel.
The phone company of course erred in teaming up with Justice Kennard to hold its expensive sports event on August 1, Emancipation Day. African rights organization protested to Digicel and the timing was shifted..
Digicel (an Irish Company, and the Irish like their horse-racing) teams up with Justice Kennard’s outfit to hold a sporting event, on the same day that the descendants of slavery celebrate the emancipation of their ancestors. The irony was that the three men shot to death at a protest were demonstrating for freedom and justice. Their relatives were given forty thousand American dollars among themselves as compensation, a sum no decent mind anywhere in the world would accept. One must be curious to know the total amount of prize money to be shared out at the upcoming horse racing thing
You can be assured that no one, not even a solitary figure will be outside the gates with a placard. There is an eerie feeling in this land that the human practice of protest as a form of human rejection of violations and brutalities is no longer recognized by this nation. Are there bigger superstar names in the world today than the two singers, Jay Z and Beyonce? Do superstars join human rights citizens when they are protesting? The answer is yes; even superstars join demonstrations against injustices.
Jay Z and Beyonce left their comfortable life and participated in a march against the acquittal verdict for the man who shot the teenager Trayvon Martin to death in Florida. In the same context, one can ask if there is a greater musical icon in the world than Stevie Wonder. The singer has advocated a boycott of performances in Florida. One is tempted to ask if there should be a boycott of the upcoming horse-racing event.
Dennis Atwell, a member of the protest movement, People’s Parliament, called me for my thoughts on his suggestion that there should be a picket in support of the Martin family. While I agreed with Dennis, I pointed out that in days’ time there would be the death anniversary of the three men who were gunned down in Linden and that is where our focus should be.
As it turned out, only one stakeholder in the entire Guyana minus the Region Ten administration organized an event in commemoration of the killings. Red Thread held a candle light vigil on the same spot where the People’s Parliament was born. Of course Dennis was there. I counted about 20 persons.
Three protestors were gunned down by what a Commission of Inquiry ruled was the work of the police. And outside of Region 10, in the entire territory of this country only 20 persons attended a candle light vigil in commemoration of the event
Let me end with a strong conviction that I will never ever change from. From colonial times through the present conjecture, that award of forty thousand dollars has to be one of the most callous and inhuman mistreatment of the State by its citizens.
In today’s Guyana, you have to ask the question what will that family do with three million dollars. What future can that sum provide for them?
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