From all indications, the Working People’s Alliance (WPA), is of the belief that the Government has more or less, brushed the Walter Rodney issue under the carpet. WPA Members insist, however, that a process of truth and reconciliation is still needed.
Specifically, WPA Executive Member, Dr. David Hinds said that the government is finished with the Rodney matter unless it is pushed. He commented that the Rodney matter is much too sensitive.
Dr. Hinds noted that the matter is one which divides the government’s supporters and it pits two member parties of the APNU and the government against each other. In the meantime, he said that the late founder of the Party, Walter Rodney, continues to be a victim of Guyana’s complex and vastly divisive politics.
“The People’s National Congress (PNC)’s only interest is to clear the name of their leader; something that is pivotal to the Burnham legacy. And the WPA’s primary concern is to vindicate their repeated charge that the State was actively involved in the assassination of Rodney.”
Dr. Hinds said that this is important to the WPA’s sense of justice for Rodney and the others who were assassinated during that period.
“The PPP also has an interest in the matter. For them, the Rodney issue is a ready wedge between the partners in the government. I don’t think they were ever genuinely interested in justice for Rodney.”
“I think what the government has done is to kick the issue down the road. But frankly, I don’t think the society has the stomach for another round of the Rodney Affair.” In this regard, Dr. Hinds said that this is most unfortunate, because at the heart of the matter is the issue of political violence against opponents and the silencing of such acts.
The political activist said that the PPP engaged in political assassinations and got away with it because none of the two parties are willing to confront this ugly side of national politics.
“My own view is that we need a Truth and Reconciliation process, but I don’t see the major parties agreeing to anything like that in the near future.”
In 2013, 33 years after his death, the PPP/C government announced a COI into the death of the famous Guyanese who was described as a scholar, historian, activist, formidable orator and, in his latter days, a politician.
Dr. Rodney, co-founder of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA), was killed when a bomb exploded in a car in which he was an occupant. He was 38 years old at the time.
Rodney’s brother, Donald Rodney, who suffered injuries during the explosion, claimed that Former Guyana Defence Force (GDF) electronics expert, Sergeant 4141 Gregory Smith, had given the politician the bomb that killed him.
It was alleged that Smith planted the bomb in a walkie-talkie that blew up on Rodney’s pelvic region while he was on John Street, Werk-en-rust, between Hadfield and Bent Streets, less than 100 metres from the Camp Street Prison.
There have also been claims that Rodney’s assassination was set up by the government of Forbes Burnham, whom Rodney was opposed to. This was because his assassination came at the height of a planned civil rebellion against the Burnham-led administration.
But Burnham’s party, the People’s National Congress (PNC), had firmly denied being any part of the bomb blast killing. Both the WPA and AFC had welcomed the announcement for the official probe.
In 1974, Rodney returned to Guyana from Tanzania. He was due to take up a position as a professor at the University of Guyana, but the Burnham government prevented his appointment.
He became increasingly active in politics, founding the WPA, a party that provided the most effective and credible opposition to the PNC government at the time. In 1979, he was arrested and charged with arson after two government offices were burned.
After his assassination, Rodney received several honours. In 1993 the government of Dr. Cheddi Jagan posthumously gave him the country’s highest national award, the Order of Excellence and the Walter Rodney Chair in History was established at the University of Guyana.
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