Kaieteur News – Ray Daggers is a man for all seasons. Having just put his body through a punishing 180-mile walk for a better deal for Guyana from the oil companies, Daggers is now about to embark on a 12-hour daily fast outside of the Office of the President.
The last time that someone did something like this was 30 years ago when Shaka Rodney held a 13-day vigil and fast outside of the Attorney General’s Chambers to press for an inquiry into the death of his father, Dr. Walter Rodney. Two university of Guyana students had also launched a similar protest outside of State House but that activity ended in controversy.
Rodney’s vigil and fast ended in success when an obviously embarrassed Dr. Cheddi Jagan ordered the establishment of a committee to review the case against Gregory Smith, the man fingered in his father’s death. Shaka’s vigil and fast therefore did yield some result.
Daggers is no doubt hoping for some success. But the present PPP/C is not the PPP/C of Cheddi Jagan and they would feel no remorse if this 65-year-old man collapses and dies like Bobby Sands, an Irish Republic Army prisoner, who died in 1981 when he was only 27 years ago.
Sands went beyond a fast. He went on a hunger strike which is usually the last resort as a form of peaceful protest. Sands died after 66 days without food. Despite the international attention, his hunger strike attracted, the British government did not budge to his demands to be considered as a political prisoner and for an end to British politics in Northern Ireland.
Guyana bourgeois leaders are not going to budge to Daggers’ demands. And at 65 years old, there is only so much his body can withstand even if it is for 12 hours per day. This is why I say, “Don’t do it Ray! Don’t do it!”
Fasting has long been used as a peaceful protest. By willingly depriving oneself of food (and, for some, water) for a number of hours each day, individuals symbolically demonstrate their commitment to the cause they are championing. They do this to appeal to the moral conscience of nation and to those in power. The danger, of course, is that when it comes to those in power, you can never be sure about their conscience.
Fasting and hunger strikes were employed by Mahatma Gandhi during India’s struggle for independence. Suffragettes in the West also utilized fasting as a form of protest to demand women’s rights.
It is not easy to go without food for a long period. Hunger we know is a primal instinct but depriving one-self of food can be transformative for both the individual and society.
As a form of peaceful protest, it enjoys great legitimacy because it captures public attention and demonstrates that the protestor is prepared to make sacrifices for the causes for which he or she is struggling.
Fasting shows that the protestor is willing to go beyond talk. It allows the protestor to highlight the gravity of his or her demands, but more important, it portrays the protestor as a selfless advocate for justice.
This moral authority often forces people to take notice and in so doing, builds awareness and support for the protestor’s causes. In so doing, it challenges society to confront issues and truth.
A public Vigil and Fast as a form of peaceful protest, places pressure on the authorities to respond to the demands of those protesting. Eleven years ago, Dr. Wayne Kublalsingh led what was termed the Highway Reroute Movement in Trinidad and Tobago. The Movement was protesting the construction of the extension of a highway through certain communities. It proposed instead a rerouting of the highway.
Dr. Kublallsingh and others began by writing letters to the media, appearing on television, distributing pamphlets and keeping public meetings. These were all intended to create greater public awareness about the issue which was being protested.
This was later followed by protests outside of the Prime Minister’s Office in order to get a meeting with the Prime Minister. The then Prime Minister of Trinidad did meet with a group representing the Movement. Further meetings and discussions were held but these did not meet the demands of the Movement.
As such, Kublallsingh took the dramatic action of going on a hunger strike. When he was almost on death’s bed, he was met by some Ministers of the government. He agreed to end his protest after they decided to appoint a technical team to review the plans for the disputed section of the highway extension.
It does sometime often take dramatic and drastic action to get governments to be responsive to the demands of protestors and this often only happens after an extended period. It is for this reason that Daggers’ protest is worrying because he has to consider the health implications of an extended vigil and fast.
Given his age, an extended fast can lead to a rapid deterioration of his health to the point where he could die. Knowing the PPP/C government, they are stubborn enough to ignore Daggers’ demands until it becomes too late for him. Don’t do it Ray, it is too dangerous!
DECEPTION & CORRUPTION getting WORSE by the minute in GUYANA.
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