Why Are Black MPs In Guyana’s Government Silent On Linden?

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Lindeners in Guyana continue their protest following the July 18th killing of three of their own.
By Rickford Burke

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Mon. August 6, 2012: I recently listened intently to the parliamentary debate on the no-confidence motion against Guyana’s Minister of Home Affairs and National Security Clement James Rohee.

I was dismayed and outraged that not one of the ruling Peoples Progressive Party, (PPP), Member of Parliament or minister of government found it within their hearts to condemn the wanton murder of the Linden protestors and the unjust shooting and wounding of about thirty others on July 18th.

Their intransigence conjured up words like callousness and heartlessness, if not – inhumane, in my mind. The ruling PPP’s approach to the debate on this serious matter of urgent public importance seemed tinged with an uncanny flippancy that projected a brutal disdain for those in despair. They seemed indifferent to the cowardly murder of the protestors and impervious to the plight of the people of Linden.

One PPP MP even boldly stated that it’s unfair for “the people” on the coast-land to pay for the subsidized electricity for “the people” in Linden. When one contemplates the ethnicity of the majority of “the people” on the “coast” and “the people” in Linden, the picture becomes clear. This said PPP MP was once a member of Jagdeo’s ethnocratic regime. She was appropriately called out by the Alliance For Change MP, Moses Nagamootoo.

Perfidious expressions of sympathy punctuated the dismal presentations of the PPP MPs. Some, like Indra Chanderpaul, seemed misguided and oblivious to the gravity of the murder of innocent people by agents of the state. She invoked all sorts of foolishness and delved into irrelevant history, as if passed, alleged bad behavior by the police is justifiable now that the PPP is in power and has become oppressors of the people.

Others blamed the killings on the protestors whom they claim had been warned to disperse but refused; as if it is justifiable to murder unarmed, innocent citizens in the exercise of their inalienably and constitutional rights on account of a ‘warning’ to cease.

None of them saw this as their government’s entry into the disgraceful graveyard of despotic states like Syria, Libya, Sudan, Russia and Yemen – regimes who also murdered their own citizens in the practice of democracy, as a bloodstain on the nation. And they also failed to contemplate that Rohee could be liable under the international criminal law for these atrocities.

Whilst this atrocity should be condemned by all government MPs and ministers regardless of their race or ethnicity – as a function of their humanity, more particularly, it should have been strongly denounced by the few Afro-Guyanese in the PPP as well as in the cabinet.

Their denunciation would have signaled a rejection of the subjugation of the black population. I’m therefore dismayed by their “deafening silence.” To me their silence is a repudiation of morality.

I’m disgusted that these individuals continue to be silent in light of grave injustices against blacks, such as the unjustifiable shootings and killings.
This is a stunning lack of dignity and value for human life of their kind. Apparently, compassion for their own and common decency are too much to ask of these PPP members who seem so struck by the ‘Stockholm’ or house-slave” syndrome, that they appear to have lost their sense of identity.

I speak specifically of Prime Minister Samuel Hinds; Public Service Minister, Dr. Jennifer Westford; Human Services Minister Jennifer Webster; Public Works Minister Robeson Benn; Cabinet Secretary Dr. Roger Luncheon; Junior Finance Minister Juan Edghill; and junior Local Government Minister Norman Whittaker, the African-Guyanese members of President Donald Ramotar’s cabinet. I understand that they only have ‘perceived” power, in my opinion, because they are minorities in the PPP “ethnocracy.” But black cabinet ministers turning a blind eye to police killings of Afro-Guyanese, year after year, as well as the oppression and subjugation of the black population in Guyana is unconscionable and repugnant, even by PPP standards.

Their failure to speak out reeks of complicity. I’m in pain to fathom how they can live with themselves; how they in good conscience face the black community and further and what explanations they give their children for their inaction?

I was made nauseous as I listened to these PPP ministers line up to offer insincere sympathies and defend Clement Rohee. But they refused to condemn the killings in Parliament. Such depravity and disregard for human life is scandalous. It’s by their design injurious to national harmony.
I therefore call on Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, Public Service Minister Dr. Jennifer Westford, Human Services Minister Jennifer Webster, Public Works Minister Robeson Benn, Cabinet Secretary Dr. Roger Luncheon, junior Finance Minister Juan Edghill, and Junior Local Government Minister Norman Whittaker, to unequivocally condemn the killings of the Linden protestors.

We don’t want to hear anymore hollow supplications of sympathies. Keep those for the confessionary. Give us your unqualified condemnation! No equivocations or vacillations. Just a plain, old garden variety condemnation will suffice!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Rickford Burke is president of the NY-based Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy.