Latest update June 2nd, 2023 12:49 AM
May 27, 2023 Features / Columnists, Peeping Tom
Kaieteur News – The PPP/C is continuing from where it left off in 2015. It has proven that it is not interested in any form of inclusive governance and is determined to impose its decisions on the people.
The PPP/C is tone-deaf. It has shown little inclination to respond to the concerns of the people concerning the oil and gas sector and gas, the Environmental Assessment Board, and now concerning the sale of the Marriott Hotel.
The PPP/C has failed to take on board the major concerns relating to the oil and gas sector. Environmentalists have failed to elicit a change in the composition of the Environmental Assessment Board despite pointing out glaring and barefaced conflicts of interest. The Marriott Hotel built with taxpayers’ funds and a syndicated loan is now showing a profit. However, this profitable enterprise is being put up for sale. The government is not listening.
The people’s only resort to ensure that their legitimate concerns are given serious consideration is through peaceful protest. Unless the people take non-violent, orderly, and lawful protest action nothing will change.
Ray Daggers walked 180 miles to highlight the flaws in the oil contract and to call for a better deal. Along the way, people expressed support for him in various ways. The betrayal by our leaders is being recognized by the public. But the government still refuses to reverse course.
One peaceful means of bringing about change is through legal action. But legal action can force change only concerning breaches of the law or the failure of the government to carry out its statutory responsibilities.
There have been some victories for citizens’ rights in the courts. But there have also been some losses. Legal action, however, cannot force the government to apply the terms of the new draft PSA to the Stabroek Block. Legal action will also not likely prevent the government from selling the hotel since any such sale will not be in breach of the law.
This is why peaceful protest has to now be given serious consideration by the public and civil society organizations. There must be a concerted attempt to bring together all similar-thinking civil society organizations to launch a massive but peaceful protest to prevent the sale of the Marriott Hotel and to demand the renegotiation of the agreement signed with ExxonMobil, Hess, and CNOOC.
But what form of peaceful protest can be undertaken to prevent the sale of the hotel? One peaceful means of protest which has not been tried much in Guyana is the formation of a human chain.
It is hoped that our civil society organizations and social activists who believe that the hotel should not be sold will consider forming a peaceful human chain to demand that the hotel not be sold. The human chain can be formed on the seawall behind the hotel so that it does not interfere with anyone’s right to freedom of movement.
By linking hands and forming an unbroken chain around the hotel, civil society activists can send a resounding message to the government asking it to reconsider its plans to sell the hotel.
Human chains have proven to be powerful but peaceful means of fighting for justice and bringing about change. There are several examples in history where people formed human chains to press their demands peacefully.
In 1989, more than 2 million persons joined hands in what was then probably the largest human chain ever. The chain stretched some 400 miles across Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. This peaceful protest was for independence from the Soviet Union. The rest is history.
Four years ago, five million women in Kerala, India, formed a human chain to demand gender equality and an end to discrimination and violence. One year later, there was another human chain in Kerala, and this time the number increased to seven million.
Who can forget the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong in 2014? The protest involved human chains and was a form of peaceful resistance against political oppression.
The people of India continue to use human chains as a form of protest. Two such protests are taking place in Mirmar and Goa.
In 1986, six million Americans joined hands over a distance of 4,000 miles. The event was aimed at raising awareness about poverty and homelessness.
In Catalonia, some 6 million persons formed a human chain stretching some 400 kilometers to advocate for Independence from Spain.
These examples illustrate the impact of human chains as a peaceful form of protest. They demonstrate that unity, solidarity, and a shared cause can create a lasting impression, raise awareness, and bring about social and political change.
Remember, the strength of a human chain lies in the individuals who link arms and stand together, sending a message that cannot be ignored. Guyanese should come together and form a human chain to pressure the government not to sell the Marriott Hotel. For too long, Guyanese have felt that they were impotent in bringing about peaceful change.
But change does not start with our leaders; change has to be triggered by ordinary citizens who believe in the power of unity and peaceful action.
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