Racism Does Influence Crime
by Rakesh Rampertab

         “You are either with them or against them and they are now making this out to be a race issue.
         I believe Indian people have to band together now. We have to seek security in our own way
         and I see myself being singled out because I'm an Indian leader and nothing else.”
                     —PPP Minister of Tourism, Mr. Manzoor Nadir, in April 2001, after his house house came under attack by
PNC supporters. He was not part of the PPP cabinet at yet

"There is no doubt that Indo-Guyanese have felt the brunt of criminal activities (robbery, rape and murder) over the past few years. But the criminal enterprise is not from a homogeneous racial group; from the evidence publicly available they comprise both African and Indian elements."
               —Jerome Khan, PNCR MP, in a letter titled "T
he criminal attacks in Lusignan and Annandale are not
                        racially motivated,"
in Stabroek News, March 31st, 2004.

I am surprised that Mr. Jerome Khan, PNCR MP, would claim that criminal attacks are not “racially motivated” (Stabroek News, 3/31/2004), citing a recent SN editorial and a front-page news piece. He says; “Implicit in these statements is that the attacks on Lusignan, Non Pariel, Annandale etc. are racially motivated and that Black people carry out attacks on Indians to terrorize and rob them…Juxtaposed against this editorial is a front page story of Hedda Moore (March 29, 2004), a very 'black woman' of Golden Grove, whose shop was attacked and who had a gun pointed to her skull during the robbery. Are we to assume that the robbers were from Enmore and of Indian stock?”

Yes, one is free to make hallow assumptions, and then watch them crumble before facts; “Enmore” (or any Indian village) does not provide refuge to criminals, Indian or Chinese or Amerindian. Surely, Mr. Khan knows this. When we say that crimes against Indians are influenced heavily by racism (or anti-Indian views such as the kind Gibson is keen on spreading), we are making a serious charge; there is no assuming.

So, a Black family is attacked in Golden Grove. Nobody claimed Blacks or Portuguese would not be criminalized, especially if they appear to have some money. (After all, according to the PNC (e.g., Lowe/McAllister, 9/2002), wealth is the reason for these crimes. I agree that it is a reason. But it is not the only reason. Actually, the facts often show that money is secondary where it does not go hand-in-hand with the anti-Indian (race) reason.

Interestingly, Mr. Khan, it is very possible that the “sophisticated” masterminds who are directing criminal traffic in Guyana staged this attack, to make is believe that Blacks are also being violated. After all, this is what Mr. Lowe would say; having suggested that it’s possible that the PPP staged the Lusignan attack. (This is not to say that I don’t believe the PPP stages its share of tricks.)

At first, Mr. Khan sounded very convinced in his view, but then he switches gears a bit and writes; “There is no doubt that Indo-Guyanese have felt the brunt of criminal activities (robbery, rape and murder) over the past few years.” (Not “year” Mr. Khan, but decades.) Does Mr. Khan think it’s a mere coincidence that year after year, decade after decade, one race and only one race in Guyana has been suffering maximum criminal attacks? If anti-Indian feelings are not involved, then why aren’t other racial groups telling horror stories like us across Guyana and overseas? Today, we have Indian families who suffered the “kick-down-the-door” plague then, and are re-suffering attacks now. Thus, race-crime is a cross-generational reality for Indians as refugee status is to the Palestinians.

The 80s and Kick-Down-the-Door Legacy

We have to make reference to the eighties because the eighties have left a residue of racial feelings between Blacks and Indians that, whenever crimes are being planned, influences the criminal or his leaders in their choice of who will be robbed or killed. The residue is very visible for it runs in distinct stains showing two separate racial patterns over the past 25 years. All one needs to do is to peek into our court logs and police records. And this is only a fraction of the horror that occurred when I was a little boy.

Whether it is 1984 or 2004, here is a live scenario; let us put 25 Indians and 25 Blacks to walk around Stabroek (or Bourda) Market on a Saturday, each wearing one gold chain of the same size and value. Who will likely be robbed the most? I know Mr. Khan will not dismiss this in traditional political fashion as being too simplistic. Point is, when equal wealth is displayed to the criminal, the criminal still pounces on the Indian more than the Black (if at all). So, it has to be that his “Indian” race makes the ordinary Joe, Abdul or Jailall a target for crime.

So, here we are again, a quarter century later, the eighties’ babies now adults, confronting the same issue; it is interesting that young men I went to school with could come to kill me because I am Indian. If Indians are not the usual target for criminal and industrial violence in Guyana because of their skin color, why did Mr. Khan object to another PNC colleague (Alexander) who publicly stated that Indians like Mr. Khan’s family have to be violated (or what I call the Alexander “injection” theory) so O Beautiful Guyana can improve; “I am therefore at wits end to understand why a senior ranking person would rationalize, when asked about crime that appears to be directed at persons of East Indian descent, that such conduct is ‘interactions’ that even though ‘painful’ could lead to some positive outcomes” (9/2002).

It is a fact that criminals (or victims) are not confined to one racial group. We expect Indian criminals among us. If poverty equals becoming a criminal, then more poor Indians ought to be criminals, and the Amerindians more so, ought to be everywhere with guns and bicycles, according to the PNC poverty theory. But despite the poverty and the deportees, the Indian community (like the Portuguese, Chinese, White, Amerindian, and much of the Black) does not entertain criminals or encourage people to attack their countrymen and women simply for voting.

It is so obvious that the crime debate in Guyana is inherently crippled because some people are tiptoeing around its race link. Or they admit something but not everything, possibly thinking they’ll shape this debate as in the past at will, or as Simon and Garfunkel sings in the “Boxer’”; “a man sees what he wants to see and disregards the rest.” This debate will be shaped by all of us, and everything will be recorded. Here are a few samples that demonstrate that race is a critical factor in anti-Indian crimes:

1.The Anita Singh story is legitimate evidence of a human being and Guyanese violated because she is Indian. Further, I believe many criminals operate under this same anti-Indian principle; it is just that they do not express it verbally, but physically. The Lusignan attack happened to an “Indian” family (again, as per the criminals) because Indians allegedly caused them to lose their $6M.

2. More poor Indians have been robbed than poor Blacks. Since Blacks and Indians have similar number of poor people, why rob one set and not all of them if money is the aim and race not a factor?

3. Few Black businesses were attacked since March 2001; are we to assume their money to counterfeit? And where we’re dealing with small timers, the facts show too many Indian small timers attacked and too few Black small timers.

4. If race does not influence crime, why Indians are the only people attacked for voting, a constitutional right? What about the Chinese and Blacks etc. who vote PPP? If the answer is because Indians are “PPP in the flesh” (Kwayana), then this is admittance of the race factor, for to be PPP is to be Indian at elections.

Given all of this, surely race must play a serious part in all these things unless we are disciples of the canon if lies and more lies. We cannot simply ignore that in June 2001, the Guyana police issued a statement claiming that “selected targets” (meaning Indians) were being attacked in a “clear pattern of criminal activities designed to create a climate of instability.” Of course, some of us will try to ignore, like the PPP, the master mechanics of the propaganda machine. Here is its Information Minister, Mr. Prem Misir in June 2002: “Currently, there is no reliable and valid evidence to support the notion that race/ethnicity is the cause of the recent killings.”

How long shall we continue to deny?


April 10th, 2004
© 2001