– calls period “era of PNC-inspired killings”
With hours remaining for the swearing in of a Commission of Inquiry into one of the bloodiest periods in Guyana’s history, the political mud-slinging has apparently begun between Government and the Opposition.
There is now the sparring about who orchestrated the mayhem that left hundreds dead and many others unaccounted for.
Yesterday, Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, called on the COI to focus on the ‘political operatives’ of that era, as well as the role the People’s National Congress allegedly played in lending support to some of the criminals during this period of violence.
He suggested that a “credibly constituted Commission of Inquiry, staffed by international jurists, will expose the intellectual authors behind the crime wave of the 2000s, including the political operatives who were involved.”
According to Jagdeo’s statement, he, like other Guyanese, “recognises that the Granger-led Government only raises this issue when it is cornered on its incompetence and corruption in office.”
“I have noticed the moves by the state-owned Guyana Chronicle to dub the Commission as the ‘Jagdeo-era killings CoI’.
“However, I am of the view that a more apt description would be a ‘Commission into the PNC-inspired killings of the 2000s’.
I have also noticed Minister Harmon’s comments about several inquiries, as opposed to a comprehensive CoI into the crime wave. I believe that no inquiry will be complete unless there is a comprehensive review of what took place and who the operatives were, particularly the political operatives.”
According to the Opposition Leader, if what Minister Harmon has said is to be taken at face value – “this is about issues of fact and for the Commission to determine what happened, when it happened, who was involved and, therefore, what action needs to be taken.” – then there are many questions that have to be answered.
“What was the level of support, moral and material, which was extended to criminals by certain PNC political operatives?
“How did guns, which were stolen or given out to the PNC, at a time when Granger was prominently positioned in the GDF, surface in the hands of criminals years later?
“Where are the 155 high-powered military weapons that were loaned to the PNC’s Ministry of National Development?
“You would recall that in August 2014, Lieutenant Colonel Sydney James, who spent three days at the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry (CoI) on the witness stand, testified and submitted documentation to show that the GDF had loaned these weapons to the PNC?
“What were the roles of current government ministers and presidential advisors, who held leadership positions in the armed forces, in compromising the ability of our security forces to apprehend politically supported criminals?
“What was the political involvement in Buxton when women and children were organised to block members of the security forces from entering Buxton in April 2002?
“When will we see an inquiry into the theft of ballot boxes at a time when Granger, who has publicly identified himself as a PNC member for 52 years, served in a key GDF position?
“When will we see an inquiry into the death of the ballot box martyrs at a time when current top government officials were entrenched in the GDF? When will we see an inquiry into the post-1997 elections violence, including the ‘slow fiah, mo fiah’ campaign, the burning of buildings, the looting of businesses, the beating of innocent people and the sexual abuse of women?”
“I have seen, too, Minister Harmon’s reluctance to give specifics on periods or issues related to the crime wave that will be focused on.
“I believe that not wanting a comprehensive inquiry is an act of desperation by the Coalition Government to polarise our society.
“Having failed to deliver on their promises of ‘clean government’, jobs for young people, etc. the Granger-cabal is returning to ‘old politics’ to polarise our society.
“Guyanese society has known and remembers the efforts by the PNC to polarize our people. If anyone has an apology to make to our Afro-Guyanese community, it is the Granger-cabal that allowed a village, which was known for its progressive attributes, to be captured and held hostage by criminals and allowed the atrocities committed on many of the young men and women of that village.
“They should apologise to the victims of Bartica, Lusignan and Lindo Creek. They should apologise to those massacred in Agricola; one remembers the infamous conversation between senior public officials, who are current ministers in the Coalition Government, in an attempt to divert attention from themselves.
They should apologise to all the other victims of the criminals they labelled as ‘Freedom Fighters’. The fact is that many of the current leaders in the Coalition Government were complicit in many of these crimes.
“Guyanese still recall their publicly announced quest to make the country un-governable – a declaration made in Buxton for political gain, the polarisation of our people.”
According to Jagdeo, he has made available to the media and publicly gone through the list of 400 young black men, which was circulated by the PNC, “and shown that the authors of that list unashamedly included the names of victims of the crime wave, civilians and members of the security forces, both Indo and Afro-Guyanese.
“That number has been mysteriously increased to 1,431 by Minister Harmon.”
He also expressed the view that “a credibly constituted Commission of Inquiry, staffed by international jurists, will expose the intellectual authors behind the crime wave of the 2000s, including the political operatives who were involved.”
“I welcome the announcement that the Commission of Inquiry will finally be established. With the questions I have raised in mind, my offer to provide an input in the crafting of the Terms of Reference for the Commission remains available.
“This is provided that the Coalition Government is interested in ensuring that such an issue is dealt with in a bi-partisan manner.
“I maintain that once a Commission is credibly constituted it will be supported by the PPP/C. In the meantime, I am of the view that our people must not be distracted by this, more so as the acts of corruption, failures and incompetence under the Coalition Government continue to be exposed by the political Opposition.
On Friday, Government announced that it was pursing the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the deaths of hundreds of persons which occurred during the period known as the crime-wave.
Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, said that the CoI is in keeping with a commitment made by President David Granger while he was in the opposition.
His comments followed the promise by Granger, the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, of a full blown investigation into the deaths of hundreds of Guyanese, including the former Minister of Agriculture, Satyadeow ‘Sash’ Sawh, during the period of 2002-2009.
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