Kaieteur News – I will always be a critic of power once the power establishment does not right the wrongs that have gone by. I came from unimaginable poverty and what I saw in those circumstances changed my life completely and forever. I saw so much bestialities and cruelties directed by humans against humans that rights became a sacred value for me.
Violations of people’s rights should not be dismissed as passed events. Righting wrongs has no statute of limitation. I became a critic of the PPP government after 1992 and the APNU+AFU regime after 2015 because I believe each had a historical mission to right wrongs.
I was part of the anti-Burnham resistance. I saw broken bodies and broken minds of those who fought to erase the Burnham dictatorship. Years after Dr. Jagan became president, people I knew would meet and tell me about the wilderness they still existed in despite the sacrifices they made.
I know about those sacrifices because I had my own logbook of such sacrifices. When an authoritarian government leaves a school teacher’s family without food because he demonstrated in the picket line to change that dictatorship, the incoming democrats must right that wrong. He and his family must be compensated in appropriate ways. There is a simple term for it. It is called, historical justice.
After 1992, I met sad faces and pessimistic eyes of people who told me the wrongs Burnham did to them were never righted. After 2015, I met dejected faces and vacant eyes of people who told me how the blood, sweat and tears they poured out for the PNC and AFC were met with nonchalant contempt.
The bravery of these people causes autocratic governments to fall. The incoming power-holders must right those wrongs. This doesn’t happen in Guyana. I consider myself a self-confident, aggressive, fearless person who emerged out of the rough life of south Georgetown and believe me when I tell you how maudlin I would get when I hear these stories.
It broke my heart and my heart is still in pieces when I sat down at Excellence Restaurant on Charlotte Street, Lacytown with second-tier AFC leaders who related to me that despite their phenomenal energy in putting the AFC into government, they sat in a room and heard AFC leaders called a complete stranger and offered her the position of Minister of the Environment. I will forever hold that against the AFC. I don’t want any AFC leader who were ministers in government to even look in my direction much less say hello to me.
So after this long introduction, we come to the caption of this column. Mr. Vishnu Persaud had extensive experience as Deputy Chief Elections Officer (DCEO) at GECOM. He lost his position in a mode that was offensive, illegal and immoral. The Ethnic Relations Commission in a unanimous decision asserted that the other candidate, Roxanne Myers, who won the position and displaced Mr. Persaud was less qualified and less experienced.
Two other things to note, Persaud’s score was higher and the remarks of the then GECOM chairman, Justice James Patterson. Mr. Patterson’s attitude was instrumental in the ousting of Persaud. Patterson noted that he didn’t find Persaud to be straightforward but shaky and unflattering.
It turned out that Chairman Patterson never met or spoke with Persaud. For more details on the horrible conduct of Patterson in the Vishnu Persaud story, see my column of Thursday, June 20, 2019, To Vishnu Persaud, I say, “I apologise, I am truly sorry I did not picket for you”.
This country has an opportunity now to right the wrong done to Mr. Persaud. The vacancy for the position of the CEO and Deputy is to be announced. GECOM owes Mr. Persaud the obligation to undo the injustice that has been perpetuated on him by Justice Patterson and the three PNC commissioners in GECOM.
I need to mention in passing that based on what GECOM commissioner, Vincent Alexander, said about Mr. Persaud, a court found Mr. Alexander and the Chronicle guilty of libel and has made a judgment to be paid separately by the Chronicle and Alexander. Interestingly, the judge ordered that Alexander alone must pay $2.5 million on his own, while the Chronicle and its editor (at the time, Nigel Williams) must jointly pay $1.5 million. So Alexander has suffered the worse. I’m kind of sorry for Vincent because I know I don’t have $ 1 million to pay much less $2.5 million.
My advice to Persaud is to apply for the position of CEO. I cannot see which other Guyanese is more experienced in that area. I appeal to Madam Chairman, Claudette Singh, to give justice to Mr. Persaud.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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