The leadership of the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) hasn’t a clue as to how unknown they are to the Guyanese people. For more than a decade and a half the GHRA has been inactive. I constantly bemoan the lack of activism of the GHRA. It has ignominiously become a press release organization; its main activity is the press release. It is a denial of fact to refer to that body as doing human rights work. If the GHRA is alive then the thousands of complaints I have received over a long period of time tell me that people do not know about the GHRA or even know it has a huge office off Brickdam.
I have done several columns on the dormancy of the GHRA and the Guyana Consumers Association and the patriarch of the GHRA, Mr. Mike Mc Cormack, who has been at its helm the past 30 years (my God, don’t people get tired of leading an organization after so long?) would take virulent objection. In the last encounter in the press with Mr. McCormack, I did reply to say his attitude toward me would change if he knows the volume of complaints I get each day from poor souls who need the representation. That fact alone should have galvanized Mr. Mc Cormack to resuscitate his entity. If Mc Cormack doesn’t want to speak to me then I suggest he talk to Adam Harris, the editor of this newspaper and someone known throughout Guyana.
Mc Cormack should ask Harris how many cries of violations, how many cries for redress, he as an individual gets when his day begins. I’m in the Kaieteur News offices, and the phones would ring for Harris all the time – people have a sad story to tell him. Mc Cormack should speak to Mark Benschop and inquire what his day is like when he leaves home and drives into the city. Oppressed Guyanese, poor citizens and violated folks have no human rights group to turn to. I once suggested to Mark Benschop that we, with Gerhard Ramsaroop, birth a human rights group. I have suggested several times over the past four years to Leonard Craig that we resuscitate the Guyana Consumers Association.
Don’t believe for a moment the dissolution of the PPP’s hegemony would bring an end to human rights violations. The private sector is a merciless community. Several times in these columns I mentioned the emotional grievances I receive from employees at the Survival Supermarket on Sheriff Street. I buy from all the supermarkets in Georgetown, including the vanishing Fogarty’s. I have never seen an employee of Survival stay longer than six months. This is in graphic contrast with all I repeat, all the other supermarkets. Maybe there is a ghost at Survival. I get sad stories all the time of the super-exploitation of private security guards. The point is Guyanese should not expect the end of violations in Guyana because a bad government is gone. It doesn’t happen like that, and it wouldn’t happen like that.
Here is a reaction and a complaint I got last Saturday. I shop for my fruits at the Wednesday/Thursday Merriman Mall market. I was annoyed with myself that I didn’t join the vendors’ picket line outside the Presidential Complex when the jaded, faded City Councilors evicted them two weeks ago. One vendor describes a most discomforting situation. She said that since the City Council moved them, they have no toilet facilities. This is the nationalistic City Council that wants to beautify Georgetown. You forcefully remove the vendors and you have them for two consecutive days selling without toilet facilities. And you put two such comforts at the end of the vending complex but its use is restricted to City Police officials only. One vendor asked that I name her because she complained to Deputy Mayor, Patricia Chase-Green and nothing has been done. Another vendor said they were to return to their original spot on January 20 but City Council has not given them a feed back. Let’s hope the present Council is voted out in March and the Town Clerk office and City Constabulary become accountable
People came up to me on Saturday to offer their reaction to my Saturday column on the cessation of routine traffic stops to examine documents’ documents.
They warned me that although the Traffic Chief told me he will stop routine checks on the roadways, from the time he spoke with me, “he dun with yuh Freddie.” I hope the Traffic Chief is not like that. But hope is all we have been living with in Guyana the past umpteen years.
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