We say it straight: nothing can justify the killings of the two young men of Cotton Field, West Coast Berbice. And if they were killed for coconuts, then that only makes the crime immeasurably worse. To the families, we understand the pain, because we know what it is to be poor, hungry and in need so much that, occasionally, there is only stealing for surviving. That is if that is the case.
As we say this, not for a moment should anyone harbour any belief that we condone illegal activities of any kind. There is nothing that can justify such activities and we don’t because, if allowed to continue unchecked, such behavior can become the norm with great monsters made from small beginnings.
Similarly, there can also be no justification for the killings and wounding(s) and burnings that have been inseparable from the protests that flared since the discovery of the mutilated bodies of the Henry cousins. There is so much on these killings that remain unanswered, and which Guyana is not any closer to the convincing exposure required, to aid getting to the bottom of a sordid story that has the usual criminal ingredients, plus other palm prints. Many are mystified, more are troubled, as they wonder to what degrading depths we are ready to descend.
From the inception, it appears a script was prepared and ready. It was the table of a hazy crime scene well set, and well publicized. Yet a week later, despite the myriad rumours and speculations of who, when, where and what was inflicted on the victims, there remains heavy uncertainty. And when populations depend on slivers of rumours, or what is spoon-fed to it, then the groundwork is laid for the furies and frenzies that followed with hateful abandon.
With the seemingly arranged crime scene as backdrop, all manner of allegations was hurled, including the easy and convenient, as well as the powerfully marketable political and racial underpinnings, which flows reflexively. But that is where everything froze with the peculiar and inexplicable. Access to the crime scene(s) was blocked, despite numerous appeals on the ground, and in public.
Why? Why not allow investigators to proceed swiftly, to trace, unravel, and solve a sordid criminal episode? And why not, especially when time was of the extreme essence? That is, unless the idea from the beginning was that: 1) this is the story; 2) this is all there is to it; 3) now move along, as presented; and 4) close this out accordingly, with its racial and political biases and bases.
From all indications, which have developed more sturdiness with time, there was more to the situation, than what was conjured, configured and used to make broad condemnations, if not criminalization of sections of society for perverse purposes.
In the blink of an eye, grisly crimes converted to the political and racial, the very elements, which have savaged this society for decades and, now again, exhumed to incite mayhem and carnage. Today our people are struggling, but we are on the doorstep of untold promise, and yesterday is drummed up and delivered to damage nationally. Let’s be clear: if the underpinnings of the sickening killings of the Henry cousins were racial and political, then this country is best served that this comes to light cleanly, early. Let the chips fall honestly. But if the underpinnings are not, then great social injustices occurred, with more suspected. Just look at where we are at this time in our history and our follies shame.
At first blush, here Guyana stands with all these endowments of wealth, much of it still unknown as to locations and quantum, and our people must steal to eat and feed their families. Grinding poverty means the gnawing pangs of hunger hourly, which means that many live on the edges and are compelled to risk getting themselves killed for some product (or promise) that means food on the table.
We would never rationalize stealing. But when a man is hungry and has absolutely nothing left, not even hope, we refuse to tell him: hold strain, brother. We at this paper know what it is to be hungry. Most unfortunately, this is an essential part of the numbing existence of too many Guyanese at the bottom of the barrel. The forgotten Guyanese, we call them, and we hate where we are, we who should have so much, but who have nothing but pain.
In the next instance, there is so much in these increasingly suspicious murders that fail to meet muster. Some of the political symbolisms reported to be employed on the victims make absolutely no sense. First, the presumed perpetrators possess such a blatant disregard for their own safety, their own freedom, and their own defense and innocence that they recklessly left clue after clue that pointed unerringly back at themselves.
Surely, no one could be this stupid, this confident of eluding law enforcement radars, this arrogance about their capabilities. Taking this to the next reasonable step, Guyanese are left with one of two hard, alarming positions. It is that the perpetrators wanted to be caught, since there were no efforts to cover tracks or it could be that someone, or group, was skilled and determined enough to commit barbaric murders, and then arrange the physical layout of their despicable handiwork so that all fingers point to one inarguable and one only cohort of perpetrators.
In too many troubling aspects of these grisly homicides, the wantonly criminal meshes too seamlessly with the racial and political. Just too much for comfort. Whether this is on the money or not, this was what played out before the community and which galvanized it towards pathways of carnage and destruction that can neither be denied nor erased.
The record of street justice, brutality, and unchecked rampages tell many stories all by themselves, none of them conducive to social or racial peace.
We hate the turn of events that is still not completely controlled, where innocent passersby pay a heavy physical price. We hate it when what appears to be private individual felonies of the most detestable and sickening sort, become evidence of the frightening racial rancidness and political acrimonies that rage nationally. We hate it, even though we do not know enough as yet that intellectual authors may have guided strenuous efforts to commit these gruesome murders, and then make them appear to be what they are not. That is, racially and politically motivated murders.
We hate that our politics and political people have fostered an environment that give rise to the aftermath of the brutal, senseless, and wanton Cotton Tree killings and which led to more killings of a most unnerving sort. We are still struggling to recover from a most bruising elections interval.
Now we have been handed on a platter the battered and grievously damaged bodies of two fallen children, which will only continue the endless wounding and savaging of this nation. With this, we maim neighbour and stranger with unmatched zeal and intensity.
Cotton Tree now stands as emblem of so much that is wrong, so many secrets, so much anguish. To where Guyana and to what? We should be living a dream of oil riches, not nightmares of racial piercings.
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