The Guyana Trade Union Congress (GTUC) has declared that it will be taking part in the Commission of Inquiry (COI) into the death of Dr. Walter Rodney and to that end it has retained Civil Rights Lawyer Mr. Selwyn A. Pieters, to represent its interest.
However, the trade union umbrella body has some reservations over the Terms Of Reference of the inquiry.
According to the GTUC, it met with the Commissioners of the COI and expressed their reservations that they along with others have with the Terms of Reference for the said COI. The GTUC felt strongly that “the TOR should have had the input of all the Members of the National Assembly, since this was the forum that authorized and approved the decision for an inquiry.”
In substantiating its claim, the GTUC outlined that Rodney “remains a national and international figure and in the present circumstance cannot be looked at as the property of a specific family or group, for he belongs to all of us, and consultation as to the way forward in arriving at the truth should have involved everyone.”
President Donald Ramotar had in a press briefing said that it was Rodney’s family and government that structured the TOR and that it was Rodney’s family, more so his wife Patricia, who had wanted a non political COI.
Notwithstanding that, the GTUC said it is conscious of its role as a national organization, and guided by historical developments, it has taken a decision that it will not stand idly by and allow a national commission of this nature to commence and conclude without Labour making its position known.
The GTUC outlined that prior to Rodney’s death it had addressed issues surrounding him as a worker, historian and citizen, and upon his demise called for an inquiry into his death. “At this juncture, while there are understandable concerns about the absence of consultation and the ToR upon which the Commission will deliberate, GTUC owes this society a duty to assist in arriving at the truth.”
According to the GTUC, the Rodney Commission is on record saying it will be examining documents in the public domain and as such it made the determination that they “cannot afford to have any person or group apply interpretation to any statement made by Labour in the past without having the opportunity to ensure the use of our statements is consistent within the context they were made. Our non-participation would be an abrogation of our responsibility and contribution to this society on the matter and more so denying the country an opportunity in arriving at the truth.”
GTUC said that it is mindful of the various claims about how Rodney met his death, and expressed that no one has been brought before a judicial authority to answer to and/or justify any of these. “In the circumstance there is no statute of limitation barring indictment or inquiry and this can be described as a Cold Case. This is not unusual and happens throughout the world, resulting in constant examination and re-examination and even judicial review. Rodney, as a national and international figure, continues to be used in various pursuits and deserves closure, however long it takes. Guyana and Guyanese deserve closure to this chapter of our history and an end brought to use of Rodney’s name as a wedge. The GTUC is prepared once again to play its part to the achievement of this end.”
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