Thirty-two gun-related robberies in the first 35 days of the new year is a disturbing reminder of the crime problems the nation has experienced in 2017. However, crime is not the only thing which people have in common. Increasingly, nasty and deceptive political tactics and appalling personal attacks by the opposition have become a regular feature in society.
Too often, our political leaders tend to forget that they set the tone for the rest of the nation to follow. One needs only to look at the damaging effect of the utterances of our politicians in Parliament to understand the gravity of their behaviour. When leaders use offensive and derogatory language, they give license to others, especially youths, to do the same.
After years of denial and stalling by the last administration, and as the country appears to be edging towards another crime wave, the government has appointed a Commission of Inquiry (COI) into the Lindo Creek massacre which claimed the lives of eight innocent men whose burnt bodies were discovered on June 21, 2008. Instead of supporting the COI, the opposition has criticised the government, even though all the legal procedures have been properly followed. This has raised doubts as to the seriousness of the opposition in solving crime.
A COI was long overdue to bring closure to the families and relatives of those who were murdered at Lindo Creek almost ten years ago during then President Jagdeo’s tenure. The people expect the opposition to testify before the COI, but its leader has stated that they might not, because of the apparent inherent bias and conflict of interest involving the Inquiry Commissioner, Retired Justice Donald Trotman.
The opposition has opposed the one-man inquiry into the Lindo Creek massacre as opposed to a more comprehensive review of the crime wave, which is a very sensitive issue. Claiming that the Commissioner is the father of a minister and the leader of the AFC, the PPP has dubbed the COI as being partisan and a waste of the taxpayers’ money and that it would not inspire confidence and trust in persons with vital information to but testify.
The opposition’s criticism of the Lindo Creek COI did not sit well with President Granger who is trying to find a solution to the extra-judicial killings and the massacres of innocent people at Lindo Creek, Bartica and Lusigan. It is a pivotal investigation that will unravel the criminal network and intellectual authors behind the killings and bring them to justice. It is rather surprising and perhaps beyond belief that a former Minister of Agriculture in the Jagdeo government was assassinated and he did not even bother to hold an inquest or an inquiry. Mr. Jagdeo’s actions have baffled the nation.
Between 2002 and 2008, Guyana witnessed its most intense and sustained criminal activities since independence. And despite Jagdeo’s criticism of the COI, the people expect him to testify honestly and tell the inquiry what he knows. Many are heartened by the fact that the Opposition leader claims to know something about the crime spree that took place during the most deadly decade of his reign as president. However, his actions, especially his failure to hold an inquiry into the extra-judicial murders, assassinations and massacres, death squads, ministers using state letter heads to purchase spy equipment to illegally intercept communication and the involvement of convicted felon, Roger Khan have polarised the nation more than anything else in its history.
It has been ten years since the crime spree took place, but getting to the bottom of it and finding the truth may be difficult. Knowing the truth, however, is important because the main objective of the inquiry is to find the truth and to bring healing and closure to the families and to all those who want to see justice be done. The government has an obligation to investigate the 2002-2008 crime wave and ensure that the culprits are brought to justice. It is the right thing to do.
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