Submitted by Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC)
The Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) condemns the PPP administration revocation of Mr. Glenn Bradbury’s work permit, lead official of the U.S.A Leadership and Democracy (LEAD) Project. It is a backward decision and reveals the ugly underbelly of the administration insecurity. Those harbouring doubt or feel the PPP is interested in democracy need no more evidence of its anti-democratic stance. Pre-1992 campaign slogan “restoring democracy” is once again validated as empty rhetoric, fooling the nation and international community to support its bid for the reign of government. The PPP continues to undermine the pillars of democracy given its litany of excuses to not hold constitutional mandated local government elections, refusal to establish constitutional commissions, and trampling the rights of citizens.
The PPP sees governmental power as an entitlement not a privilege. A party and government committed to governing in the people’s interest need not fear a project that sets out to empower the people about the values of democracy and their role in their process. They need not fear an engaged citizenry. Were the government proud of its human rights’ record there would be no need to undermine a project designed to empower and safeguard the people’s fundamental right to participate, share and received ideas, information and knowledge on matters affecting their well-being. This is an administration running scared and afraid of intensified scrutiny of its dastardly stewardship of the nation’s affairs.
GTUC continues to support the project because it is a critical component in strengthening and deepening the nation’s democratic processes and institutions. Lack of knowledge is a terrible thing. Over the years the administration has used the absence of knowledge as weapons of control and sacrificing its supporters at the altar of expediency to further the interest of a few. This administration is not driven by democracy. The PPP is driven by naked power manifested in their acts and actions of suppression and efforts to cultivate an ill-informed society in order to have free reign to plunder the nation’s resources and rape its coffers.
GTUC views the revocation of Mr. Bradbury’s work permit as government desperation. It is another attempt to close the floodgates for justice. The administration continues to ignore that though the arc of the moral universe is long, it bends towards justice. Independent media, an emerging vocal civil society, the internet, proliferation of social media, including the cell phone in the hands of many, would advise the government it cannot stop the sharing and receiving of ideas, information and knowledge. It cannot stop being held accountable, nor can it stop the people’s march for good governance.
Youth, Policing & Crime
The GTUC calls on the police to carry out due diligence to bring to justice the officer who shot teenager Axel Griffith in his mouth. Even if the police had reason to suspect or believe something untoward, it does not justify the barbaric act. From reports it appears as though the police was acting in self-interest which makes it even worse. This is only possible in a society where the exercise of the lawless is supported by the government. The burning of 14- year old Twyon Thomas’ genitals, baton sodomy of 16-year old Colwyn Harding, and now 15-year old Griffith shot in the mouth remain unacceptable techniques for eliciting information or confessions.
These acts are violations of Child Rights and must stop! This nation cannot wait until similar fate befalls a youth with political connections before the cruelty stops. In one accord, the nation must raise its voice for identical protection of the mighty and weak. Newly appointed Commissioner Seelall Persaud must mark his legacy by reining in and disciplining the rouge within the midst and creating a Force that strives to uphold its motto Service and Protection. The police and society’s collective interest is best served building relationships based on mutual trust and respect.
A government that is yet to establish a concerted National Youth Policy to ensure the productive utilisation of this segment of our population must take responsibility for the hopelessness and fear that grip this vulnerable group. It must also take responsibility for the deficiencies in the Force. The Police Service Commission and Judicial Service remain inactive. The administration continues its contempt for the very law it expects the police and citizenry to uphold. The non-functioning of these commissions is a violation of the Constitution, prevents the judicial branch of government from effectively doing its job, and denies addressing matters that would ensure professionalism such as appointment, grievances and discipline.
Some police need improvement and discipline but the president has to do more than criticise them as was done at the opening of the recently held Police Officers’ Conference. As Commander-in-Chief, Head of State, Head of Government and parent the president can act to bring about the change the society yearns for and has been calling for. President Ramotar can start by ensuring immediate appointment of constitutional mandated commissions, implementing recommendations outlined in the Disciplined Forces Commission Report and the Linden Commission of Inquiry, to name some.
Effective policing is not only dependent on the police. Whilst the police play a major part in crime control, prevention is also important. The government has primary responsibility to create the enabling environment like ensuring a living wage/salary, taking the young off the streets by re-opening National Service or some form of second opportunity because hopelessness and despair would drive some to criminal activities. Unabated white colour crime and the police being made to feel some are above the law, when the law offers them no such protection undermine the rule of law and send wrong signals to the society.
Misdirecting taxpayers’ money and granting tax concessions for mega concerts is not youth development. Concerts cannot address unemployment, underemployment and street corner liming among the young. These concerts serve as temporary opium dulling the hopelessness and despair the young still have to confront when the partying is over. The society is being robbed developing a human capital base to take responsibility and be involved in the present in order to improve the future for themselves and their offspring. The nation is risking a group being denied a sound future with the administration’s ‘do nothing policy’ that is not only leading to rampant brain drain but also creation of insensitivity and irresponsibility.
Had these acts of police brutality and hopelessness by the young occurred under PNC administrations the blame would have been laid at the feet of their leaders, and some political parties would have found fodder in these for political mileage. Further, any weakness, perceived or otherwise, in the Force would have been criticised by the PPP as the PNC’s Force. After 21 years in office it is no longer the PNC’s Force it is the PPP’s Force. President Ramotar must today take full responsibility for police brutality and the prevalence of injustices suffered by the people.