Sep 18, 2020 Editorial
ERC member, Haji Dr. Roshan Khan, created some ripples recently. It was when he stepped up and handed down a personal declaration of what should pertain in the face of uncalled for and unpardonable violence directed at civilians for purposes ostensibly just, but characterized by the criminal and more.
Specifically, Haji Khan had this to offer to the Indian community: “Indians in Berbice need to create their watch and protection groups. Equipped with batons and sticks for self-defense only. Be firm and clever but never be the aggressor. Protect minorities in your communities.”
On the face of it, what Haji Khan put on the table, though of commonsense, ended up being denounced as otherwise.
It was now a semi tsunami that brought sharp reaction from a couple of corners. In a terse Facebook release, the watchdog ERC had this to say: “The Ethnic Relations Commission wishes to disassociate itself from social media posts made by ERC Commissioner Haji Dr. Roshan Khan” and that what he said does not “promote harmony and good relations” (ERC distances itself from Roshan Khan statement, KN September 12).
Interestingly, in that same article, Opposition Leader, Joseph Harmon, referred to Haji Khan’s statement as “divisive and racial.”
Let us examine man and statement more carefully, in a more reasoned manner. We think that what Dr. Khan put out was what he felt should be embraced by the unattached and uninvolved in any developments that make those persons into targets of convenience and opportunity. In other words, if there is no senseless attacking, then there would be no need for alerting and defending. We believe that where we interpreted the ERC member was going, is either taking reasonable measures at self-protection, or the vulnerable communities resigning themselves to being passive sitting ducks, unable to resort to a basic that is due all human beings.
From the vantage point of those long viewed as easy targets and ready victims, we believe that what the controversial commissioner said was both reasonable and practical. It seems to possess some merit. Again, it is either that or readily permit others to take advantage of what they view as frailty and weakness. To put in a different nutshell, there is an entitlement to self-defense, which is an accepted means of taking care of one’s person, precious family, and property. This is a right which, when reasonably exercised, belongs to all persons, regardless of creed or color or whatever else could be thrown into the mix.
What could be wrong with such a position? Who could have a problem with any such advocacy, particularly when such expectations, such rights, are harbored by those who rise up with cries for justice and vent rage by attacking the accidental and defenseless? Or those who convince themselves that they are victims of injustice, whether the source is political, judicial, or governmental? The right to protest is now accepted as an almost universal given. And by the same token, there is an identical right to safety and freedom from intimidation or terrorization from any quarter, notwithstanding the causes being espoused.
In the absence of any official line or buffer of protection, then self-defense becomes the be all and end all of survival. This is not to be taken lightly, as it is an intrinsic right held dear by most men, up to and including some confirmed pacifists.
There is nothing that Commissioner Khan said, which encouraged going on the offensive to seek out potential attackers via preemptive forays and assaults. In other words, he did not recommend any of that at any time. Sometimes, self-defense actions are compelled, literally, on the very doorstep. Perils could come in swarms, from the open, under cover of dark, or in one guise after another, which must be repelled with reasonable force is what we interpreted Commissioner Khan as saying.
On the other hand, and in the steaming racial cauldron that is Guyana, Haji Khan is no longer an ordinary citizen, but a member of the sensitively placed ERC.
His attachment to that body trumped all other considerations, no matter how prudent, how pragmatic. Perhaps, it would have been better if he had stayed silent, all racial and local things considered.
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