Suddenly, the dark era of the past has descended on Guyanese like a relentless plague, a phenomenon which many had thought would never return after savouring the fruits of democracy for 23 years. The ghosts of the dark past have now returned to life once again haunt this nation. In the meantime, our hard won democracy has been so much trampled upon that it has fled with great alacrity. The PNC has once again displayed its penchant for violating the Constitution and this time, the violation is not about delaying the elections but it is the violation of one’s right to freedom of movement, freedom of assembly, freedom of expression and by extension the right to peacefully protest. All the fundamental rights and freedom of individuals are being violated daily. The PNC has become the Constitution!
Article 148(1) of the Constitution states that, ‘No person shall be deprived of his freedom of movement, that is to say, the right to move freely throughout Guyana…’ The exception would be to prevent the commission of a crime, or in the interest of public safety, or to protect public morality or to PREVENT THE SUBVERSION OF DEMOCRATIC INSTITUTIONS. In the case of the Guyana Police Force’s action against the protestors at Cornelia Ida, there is a clear indication that it is in complete defiance of Article 148. Moreover, they did the opposite of the constitutional stipulation: they subverted the democratic institutions. The GPF was committing a crime NOT the protestors!
The Caretaker President, David Granger, was attending a graduation ceremony and dinner at the Saraswati Vidya Niketan School in the area and an NGO, the Association of Democracy and Human Rights Guyana launched a protest to show their concern about the many violations of the Constitution and the CCJ’s rulings resulting on an assault on the democratic institutions in Guyana. David Granger has so far shown scant regard for these institutions. It is apparent that Granger knew about the protest beforehand and the Police erected a barricade in the streets to prevent the protesters from getting in close proximity to the school where the graduation was held and so neutralise the effect. It must be noted that it is normal for protesters to line the shoulders of the public roads but in this case, they were prevented from doing so. It seems that Granger cannot bear to behold the sight of people protecting their inalienable rights however, he is not averse to schoolchildren lining the streets and waving flags for his own pleasure.
In addition, to add insult to injury, the peaceful protesters were pushed further down the streets in a bid to stifle their democratic voices. In this maddening haste to chase the protesters further down, the barricades were used as battering rams which resulted in injuries to some. But the police were not satisfied with this, they arrested two of the protesters and held them in detention at the station for a couple of hours. Until now, they were not given any reason for their unlawful detention. This act is simply to stir fear and prevent others from standing up for their rights. It is clear that just as it was in Burnham days, the Police Force has become the shameless tool of fear and intimidation of the PNC dictatorship.
What is also alarming is the discriminatory action of the police. This was so blatant since the PNC counter-protesters were allowed free access to the main road by the Police. Will these counter-protesters morph later into the House of Israel? We have seen in the not so distant past that protests led by the PNC had subjected law-abiding citizens who they deemed to be supporters of the PPP to demeaning acts. I could not recall any arrests made by the Guyana Police Force, for instance the Agricola protest when these acts were done in broad daylight and in the presence of the Police. In addition, businesses were razed to the ground in some cases resulting in multi-million dollars losses. Where was the Police Force then? How many were arrested?
As expected, the growing dictatorship has now made it the norm for Granger to travel around with heavy police escorts and other security presence which only serve to instil fear and insecurity in the minds of Guyanese. The people now have to dive for cover anytime they hear a siren in the distant. This is a lot more than Burnham was used to, so it may be prudent to assume a bigger dictator in the making. Guyanese must now stand up and register our non-cooperation through peaceful protests to eradicate this growing scourge.
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