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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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
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.
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."
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
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.
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
is just possible that Fanon was faced with political systems and
expectations and possibilities of a different nature.
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.
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.
Note: All credits to the author and Stabroek News, where
this was published on April 18th, 2004.]