Pluralism v Partisanship and the People's Movement for Justice
by Eusi Kyawana

Dr David Hinds has drawn strong comments, in the press and in e-mail circuits, for his comments on the meeting of the People's Movement for Justice (PMJ) of March 19, 2004. Dr Hinds attended the PMJ's meeting at the City Hall, Georgetown, and listened, perhaps too attentively, to the speakers.

In his comments he singled out Mr Dev as the only party representative who condemned directly both of the armed disorders of some opposition forces. As is known, one was based on the East Coast village, Buxton-Friendship, correctly called "atrocities" by one of his critics. The other was the government-sponsored death squad and its atrocities, most directly revealed by Mr George Bacchus.

Hinds also informed the public of the ethnic identity of the leaders who had distributed arms to those young men at Buxton who had become involved in the unfortunate developments.

There was really no need to advise Hinds not to treat as equal the state-sponsored violence of the Phantom and the offences of the East Coast boy soldiers and escaped prisoners. All but one of the prisoners are now dead and out of reach, even of some who were their mentors. Early in his comment Dr Hinds had called the government-sponsored death squad "the ultimate in political gangsterism." It is hard to find words to give the Phantom a higher profile that those words.

Frantz Fanon

By what code of morals, or of security, or of tactics, or human rights should there be a call for an investigation of only one of the agencies that have had such a multiplying effect on life in Guyana? True, in the case of the Phantom, where allegations have been made that a minister was involved,, there is that smoking gun, the reported statement by Mr George Bacchus. In the case of the Taliban, no similar smoking gun has been found.

Any government with the faculty of shame, a support like fear, or courage, would readily seek a process to separate its own sheep from its own goats, by holding an enquiry under independent guidance, like that of a jurist from elsewhere.

Every parliament with a collective sense of dignity, and there are many, would have an investigation of a member so targeted, even without a formal statement, or would ask the diplomatic agency concerned which has the information, to share it. If that agency chooses to respect the sovereignty of Guyana, it would share the information it has. No international lawyer has yet come forward to explain to the public the status of that deposition.

The Ambassador has been reported as saying that if the security agency of its own country verified the facts, the statement would be handed over to the Guyana authorities. In fact the press has reported that Bacchus had given his statement to US regional law enforcement officials who were in Guyana.

While the President's position remains that he "will not lynch my Minister," and that the Leader of the Opposition must hand over the evidence he has, it is the Opposition Leader's position that he will hand over the evidence when the minister steps down to permit an enquiry.

The Phantom and the Taliban appear to be two ends of the same pole of extra-judicial execution, the very offence which the prisoners' leadership put forward as their reason for armed action on a scale more massive than ever attempted in Guyana since 1834.

The Opposition Leader may appear foolish, if he should hand over the evidence to the Guyana authorities, and then no enquiry follows, because the President fears a judicial lynching. However, the President has nothing to lose but everything to gain if he should arrange an enquiry and no one should present evidence to it. The President would then be riding high and have an unanswerable case against us all. Surely he is not afraid of that. What, then, is he afraid of?

The cause of the various attacks on Dr Hinds's statement, with the exception of one, seems to be resentment of the idea of an investigation of the East Coast-suspended disorders. This statement is not a forecast, but a simple use of precedent. The 1953 constitution was 'suspended' but never really restored. GAWU once, for tactical reasons, 'suspended' a strike which it did not resume. Similarly, the other major political camp is resentful of an investigation of the allegations against the Phantom.

The suspension of para-military activity by both Taliban and Phantom may be of this nature, or may not. The public should at least be aware of the possibilities.

Whatever the reasons for Dr Hinds's statement, it has a strong basis in common sense. Seeing that there were offences through proxies by both major political blocs, the domestic superpowers, the government will be in a stronger position to refuse an enquiry if the PMJ demands an enquiry only into the offences of one political bloc or superpower.

Let us say that the PMJ or its majority does not wish to stress the exposure of one of the superpowers. If that is the case, they are abusing the pluralist model which they have wisely adopted to pursue the issue of justice.

I believe Dr Hinds gave them much credit for their form of association, but may have been dismayed by the partisan use they seemed to be making of it. This reminds us of Dr Jagan's National Patriotic Front, which was to include all classes and a wide spectrum of political ideas, but was to be "imbued with Marxism - Leninism" and was required to accept "socialist orientation." (1977)

The maxim of Jesus that a house divided against itself cannot stand is somewhat in this vein. The PMJ, now that the issue is in the open, ought to re-examine its pluralist form and compare it with its effectively partisan content, and see whether there is the necessary harmony.

Many critics of those who opposed violence in our domestic politics, have called upon Fanon. Of course none of these persons quote Fanon's views on women in the African (Algerian) revolution and his insistence on the dismantling of barriers against them even when they had fought equally.

In invoking Fanon, some persons do not invoke the societies, in which he worked and taught, studied and fought. They do not accept that Fanon's doctrines on violence were applied to societies and political systems very much unlike ours. My own way of looking at these doctrines, and it is open to dismissal, is that the institutions we have today, the formal democracy, are the result of violent struggle fought as long ago as 1763, and the force organised in 1823 and even of the 1791 revolution in Haiti, which wrote the lines for the tombstone of slavery in the hemisphere.

To stretch this further, it is my argument that the major strikes in Guyana, in sugar, l948, in bauxite, 1946 and the actions affecting the colonial state (Transport) shook the colonial system, giving it a taste of the social forces against it. The main British and the main North American companies, as well as the colonial state, had been shaken, without relying on violence. Thus, the Waddington constitution, the envy of other colonies, was won with purely civil agitation.

It is just possible that Fanon was faced with political systems and expectations and possibilities of a different nature.

It is good to know what various authorities have said about the use of violence. In Guyana, a specific case, as each country is, the work is to examine the distribution of social power here, the political facilities and the use which activists make of them, and some other realities.

The use of arms in political struggle is not more manageable and is not simpler than non-violent struggle, as the television may tempt many to believe. A serious attempt to examine the case in Guyana has to be made.

[Editor's Note: All credits to the author and Stabroek News, where this was published on April 18th, 2004.]


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