– Dr. Hinds urges
The leaked findings of the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry have stirred the society once again. The report says essentially that under the Burnham era, Rodney, a Guyana scholar and founder of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) was a victim of state violence.
Adding his comments recently to the public debate over the COI revelations is University Professor, Dr. David Hinds. Hinds, an Executive Member of the WPA, said that like other comrades of Walter Rodney, he welcomes the findings of the Commission of Inquiry.
He noted that in the beginning, he had suspicions about the motives of the Commission which was established by the People’s Progressive Party (PPP). He noted however that once the COI got into swing he supported it for it was the furthest the nation had gone on the matter in three decades.
Hinds said that with the findings, Guyana gets another opportunity to re-examine the politics of the day especially as it relates to state violence.
The political activist said, “They had killed Walter Rodney on June 13, 1980 on a Friday night. As Guyana cooled down at the bars and in the clubs after a long week of work the State struck to physically remove one of the fiercest critics of the government of the day. Now almost four decades later, a Commission of Inquiry has found that the Government, the State and their top leadership conspired to carry out that brutal act. Rodney was not the first victim of the State—his comrades Ohene Koama and Edward Dublin and the Catholic priest, Fr. Bernard Darke had met a similar fate in the preceding year– but he was the best known. Murder by the State had become part of our political veins.”
The University Professor said that there are some lessons to be learned from the findings of the Commission.
He said that firstly, these findings are an indictment of the nation’s State.
He explained that the country’s post-colonial or independence state, replete with all the characteristics of colonial domination, has been the antithesis of independence.
“We have failed miserably in the area of human-rights for our weak, our powerless, our sufferers and those who dared to stand with them. We in Guyana and the rest of Caribbean never learned how to deal with dissent in our politics. As a society we are products of resistance, but we have used the State to assassinate resistance at every twist and turn. The State in such circumstances became a tool of repression of dissent. It is a flaw that begs to be corrected,” expressed Dr. Hinds.
Hinds, a Buxtonian by birth, said that activists stood with their African brethren against racial apartheid while a vicious political and social apartheid was being practiced.
He said that the reach for education as liberation produced some of the best minds in the world like Walter Rodney. He noted however that the powers that be marginalized and killed those very minds in the name of the party and the State.
He added, “We marched with workers in 1962 and 1966 but turned the guns of the State on them in 1963 and 1967. From the ‘Bring the Rastas in dead or alive’ in 1963 to ‘Our steel is sharper’ in 1979 to “Shoot them off the bridge” in 2012, we have used the State against our own.”
Hinds noted that the second lesson which must be noted is that Governments since 1980, “all of them”, have assassinated Rodney even after his death by carrying out what Elder Eusi Kwayana calls “assassination of the evidence.”
On his website www.guyanacaribbean politics.com, Hinds opined that some government officials have trivialized the act and in the process diminished Rodney in the eyes of many Guyanese. In other instances, Hinds said that some justify the murder by saying he was trying to overthrow the government and he was causing trouble.
The Political Activist said that it pains to hear ordinary Guyanese parrot that narrative—these very Guyanese, 200,000 of them who overthrew a government on May 11, 2015. With this in mind, he questioned, “Should we all be murdered as Rodney was? Should those who conspired to overthrow colonial rule be murdered?”
Moving on to the third lesson, Dr. Hinds said that he has heard “many well-meaning and some not so well-meaning” Guyanese say that Rodney’s WPA declined after his assassination. He said that in their haste to talk cheap politics, they miss something fundamental—Guyana declined after Rodney’s death.
The University Professor said that Guyana declined after Rodney’s assassination largely because many of its citizens, high and low, justified the brutal acts of the State in defence of the Party and the Leader. And in so doing, “we left in place the brutal State that would eventually devour Courtney Crum-Ewing, Ronald Waddell, the Linden Martyrs, the over 400 Black Men and those who tried to devour Freddie Kissoon.”
Dr. Hinds said that what Rodney and all these recent martyrs had in common is that they have been victims of State Violence. He said that one would be hypocritical to cry for justice for Waddell, Crum Ewing, the Linden Martyrs and the victims of the Phantoms but try to justify Walter Rodney’s murder. He emphasized that they were all fighting to overthrow injustice and return Guyana to its noble tradition, and they were all assassinated by the State.
Speaking to the fourth lesson, the University Professor said that many will hear the responses and counter-responses to the verdict of the Commission. He said that the politicians and pundits will have their say. He hopes that the findings however, do not become a source of further conflict but an occasion for bringing the country together. The political activist said that the coalition Government should also rise above the fray and not take sides.
He said, “We have to deal frontally with the question of State Violence. There must be a commitment to democratize the State. All of us–the government, political parties, Civil Society–have a role to play in this regard. Political interference in the work of State institutions should be ceased. And those who serve in the State must be sanctioned when they deviate from the rule of law and respect for human rights.”
Dr. Hinds stressed that this government has an obligation to honour that commitment because it came to power as part of a mass reaction to the prevalence of State violence.
The University Professor said, “Because of who Rodney was, his case gets much attention. So we must use the occasion to commit to righting the wrongs, to not walk that road anymore. State Violence in the end consumes all of us.”
Concluding on his last note, Dr. Hinds said that with the findings in mind, no political party should be throwing around guilt. He said that younger and newer members and supporters of the PNC must not be made to bear the burden of an act that was committed long before they came into politics or were born and they, in turn, must not engage in the demeaning politics of justification of wrong.
The activist said that the WPA should not use the findings of the Commission to ridicule those to whom the accusatory finger is pointed. At the same time, he said that the PPP should get off its so-called high-horse, for it too presided over political assassinations.
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