By Abena Rockcliffe
The Guyana Government has been placed on alert for potential terrorists and will not compromise the country’s overall security to appease those who scream racism. This is the position stated by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge.
Greenidge first made the issue public in the National Assembly during the recently concluded budge debates.
He had told his colleagues, “In the few weeks since we have been in office we have already seen some odd trends…and trends include a sudden rise in visa applications from South Asia.”
He added that at the same time, the Government of Guyana received alerts from the governments of some of the very “South Asian” countries regarding the movement of potential terrorists.
The Minister said this as he addressed the PPP cries of racism.
He said, “The very members of the Opposition call the (recent) deportation of Bangladeshi and Indian immigrants arriving without either visas or return tickets, racists. Somehow, the PPP deportation of six Namibians during 1992/3 in flight from apartheid SA which was at the time illegally occupying their country was not racist.”
Greenidge highlighted some of the “South Asia” jurisdictions to include Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh and India.
He said that in recent months there has been a rise in visa applications from those counties. Guyana had picked up, from the general system, that there had been detection of increased movements of terrorists from such countries. Therefore, there became a need for special care in monitoring the movements out of those counties.
“We were then told to be careful,” said Greenidge.
While Greenidge refused to state exactly where his warnings came from, he said, “You must know that only a few countries have the ability to do such monitoring, in order to warn us.”
Greenidge said that even though Guyana is on alert for nationals arriving from those countries, those arriving with all the necessary travel documents and a return ticket were being and continue to be accepted.
The Minister said, “People must know that you cannot just turn up in India where you are supposed to have a visa and believe they will just let you in because you are a nice person or because you come from Guyana and they believe you deserve to enter the country…no no, things do not work that way.
“You have to be equally careful in Guyana,” he said.
Greenidge repeated something he said in the National Assembly; which is, “Guyana has little capacity to monitor ordinary criminals, let alone an influx of illegal immigrants from those parts of the world where terrorism is crossing new boundaries – see Thailand for example.”
BBC yesterday reported that “A second foreign suspect has been arrested in connection with the deadly bombing at a Bangkok shrine in August.”
The male suspect was arrested in Sa Kaeo province, east of Bangkok on the border with Cambodia, Prayuth Chan-ocha, Thailand Prime Minister told reporters.
A foreign man was arrested in Bangkok on Saturday over the blast at Erawan shrine, which killed 20 people.
Thai military authorities have been interrogating the 28-year-old man, but they have not yet released his name or nationality.
Bomb-making materials and forged passports were found at the apartment where he was detained in Nong Jok on the outskirts of Bangkok, and he has been charged with possessing illegal explosives, police said.
It is unclear whether either of the two arrested men is the suspect seen on a security camera leaving a backpack at the crowded shrine shortly before the bombing on August 17.
Greenidge said that if Guyana was to become open to situations similar to that of Thailand the country would indeed be in a sad state, especially when Guyana’s capacity to deal with terrorists is considered.
“If terrorists arrive in Guyana they would wreak havoc, therefore, we must be careful.”
Greenidge told Kaieteur News that he had discussions with the Minister of Citizenship, Winston Felix, regarding alerts and arrangements to ensure both careful monitoring and proper handling of visitors.
Kaieteur News made persistent efforts to get in contact with Felix in order to find out about measures that may have been put in place but he was unavailable.
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