Sep 22, 2020 Letters
In reference to missive that Haji Roshan’s “utterance on the violence against people in West Berbice betrayed the trust placed in him as an ERC rep” (KN Sep 21), many view it as hypocrisy. KN also carried an editorial on the remarks (Sep 18). The editorial was fair and balanced.
Haji is condemned but not the politicians who organized and those who actually perpetrated the brutal violence. He owned up to his faults. He shamed his colleagues for being silent as crimes were being perpetrated on people on account of ethnicity. He spoke on his own behalf not as a spokesperson of ERC. The public, including that 520 who signed the missive, should emulate him in condemning the violence. There is nothing wrong in being constructively critical of a body of which one is a member.
There are many who support Haji based on conversations I have been having with them on the matter. Obviously, people are divided on the remarks with some making their views known in the media and others quiet. The majority seems to be in support of Haji. Why can’t people speak out and why can’t they defend themselves against thuggery?
Haji Roshan’s ‘crime’ was to tell people to protect themselves from violence, robbery, sexual molestation, and other atrocities unleashed on them. Being a member of ERC or any body should not constrain one from taking a principled correct position. He spoke out of anger at the criminals with victims picked upon on account of ethnicity and the authorities not taking effective measures to control the situation. The 520 individuals who signed the missive disagree with Haji suggesting instead that the victims should not resist the perpetrators of the heinous crimes. Accept it, turn the other cheek, and get some more blows. Violent response could trigger more violence or end the violence, based on studies of sociologists.
At the spur of the moment when confronted with sudden physical violence, people think and react differently. Some react violently and some passively – as they measure the situation. Some speak in anger and frustration and don’t really mean what they utter. Haji probably falls under that category.
In most cases, a violent response is not practical. If confronted by dozens of armed bandits, how can one person respond violently? For those of us who study criminology, when confronted with a crime, one has to act within a split second what to do. Safety must be the priority. I was robbed countless times in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Harlem in minority neighbourhoods. Some of the bandits were no more than eight years old as they were trained to become career criminals near my university at daybreak or at dusk. I didn’t resist because criminals are known to be deadly; I valued my life.
What took place in West Berbice was not ordinary, run of the mill criminality, but ethnic bullyism. When confronted alone by gangs or even one-armed individuals as in my experience in minority neighbourhoods in NY, one could not and must not resist the bandits out of sanctity of life. But when there is organized crime against victims, criminologists disagree on the response. Some suggest counter response. In studies of criminology, experts suggest that when criminals are confronted as a group, they back down and go into hiding.
Clearly, Guyanese didn’t take Haji’s statement literally to respond to the violent criminals and in fact there was no reported resistance or organized response to the criminals. The violence ended when the politicians called off the thugs from the roads.
Of the 520 who reprimand Haji, would they now chastise the politicians who unleashed the goons on the people? Why haven’t they done so? Is there hypocrisy? Would they call for the politicians to be held accountable via a commission of inquiry as suggested by Kit Nascimento? Should the politicians not be arrested and prosecuted?
The 520 should have come out publicly and condemn the violence instead of attacking Haji Roshan alone. And as Pompeo was visiting Guyana, they should have penned an appeal asking the US for assistance to solve the crime of the three youngsters who were killed in what was no ordinary violent murders. Did people notice that when President Irfaan said he would seek US, UK, UN, RSS, and Caricom help to investigate the violence, the criminals were pulled off the road?
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