Where and Who are the Black Militants?
by Rakesh Rampertab

"There is ample evidence now that there is in existence a group of African Guyanese militants who are conducting an armed struggle. This group is not led or controlled by the People's National Congress (Messrs McAllister and Lowe had previously made this quite clear) but what Mr Eusi Kwayana describes as the masterminds have some political connections. The group has reportedly lost faith in electoral democracy and feels oppressed by what they perceive to be economic victimisation and also by extra-judicial killings by a section of the police force. Taking arms against the state amounts of course to the crime of treason and would in many countries be met by a full military response…

"It is a development which has thoroughly alarmed all who still believe in democracy, an open society and the rule of law and can only do the most serious damage to ethnic relations, involving as it does repeated attacks on and murders of Indians, most recently involving teenagers who said they were paid for the job."

[Editor's Note: Please refer to our section, "Ethnic Crimes" for the full editorial from Stabroek News, November 5, 2002. Below is a response to this editorial (altered for this site), which has been sent to the Stabroek News.]

It was good to read, finally, an editorial on the "group of African Guyanese militants who are conducting an armed struggle" (SN 11/05) in Guyana. It is right that we state things as they are even though they are controversial and extremely sensitive. Exposure is very detrimental for any such group that is, by nature, obscure because it finds strength in its hidden or partially concealed identity.

Yet, this editorial was too short for such a serious issue, with which the very future of the country rests. While it is well that there is mentioned of the "existence" of this group, it did not indicate names despite stating that there is "ample evidence"; and although it courageously indicated that the supposed "masterminds" have "political connections," nowhere is there any mention which political party or politicians are involved. Or, at the least, there is the need for much more details about others aspects pertaining to this group and its operation. For example, is there any former army top brass involed or an ex senior "opposition" politician?

It would not be surprised if the PNC's notorious Plan X 13 (that many forget conveniently) were a fundamental source of influence for the militants. That most Guyanese, especially the younger generation, are unaware of this subversion plot, adds to our vulnerability to such secret units. Has anyone ever bothered to tally number of Indian-owned homes and buildings that have been burned in so-called "mystery" fires from 1997 to today? Has anyone ever wondered about the number of Indian corpses "discovered" without proper explanations for the same period?

This sense of militancy is not new to these militants or its mastermind. Nor is the "evidence" something of recent making. It was here long before the February Camp Street breakout; in 1997, anti-Indian sentiments became very public and by January 1998, these sentiments were translated into physical, racial, and sexual violence. Since 1997, this violence on the streets has been accompanied by racial rhetoric in the media, and on Internet web sites (where those who questioned or confronted the militants' propagandists received death threats). Instead of confronting it, we allowed it to fester profusely.

The Herdmanston Accord (1999) and Dialogue (2001) are products of appeasement to this Black militancy. Before the book by Marcus Garvey, there was the music of Bob Marley; literature and music used for the wrong reasons, in the reverse fashion of the Nazis who inverted the holy meaning of the Hindu swastika to a sign of evil through their race campaigns. There is no difference between a PNC leader who sends mixed signals by declaring that Buxton's "cause" is "just" (which Buxton and which cause?), and Black intellectuals who use letter columns to speak about racial oppression for Blacks; views destined to generate anti-Indian hatred just as the leaflets of the supposed five "freedom fighters." There is no difference between the sense of militant righteousness expressed by the Douglas tape, and that conveyed by the Black dominated Guyana Human Rights Association when it announced that slaves built Guyana "out of the Atlantic." The boundaries between what is spoken and who speaks have been blurred by the militant.

These "militants" are determined. They have thought through their agenda thoroughly and are willing to suffer the consequences to undertake it. Not only are death threats made; they are exercised as evident in the hit on the head of the DPP. They expect exposure and have prepared for it. Exposure did not begin with the Molotov cocktails and arsenals recently found, but bombs and bullets have emphasized the militants' dedicated aim not merely to rob, but to engage in large-scale destruction, be it through ethnic strife or pre-selected discriminate targeting. The little exposure thus far cannot and will not deter them. Regrouping has already begun.

Society will have to confront this group immediately in all its shades, and risks will have to be taken (incidentally, society is already suffering serious risks) before this network could truly be disrupted. For this, print journalism will have to help shape the atmosphere to foster eradication, through the disseminated of critical information into the nerve endings of the populace, to prevent many from being drafted by the militants, and most from becoming crime victims. While one ought to recognize the risks involve, someone somewhere will soon have to start supplying substantial information. In this regard, an independent newspaper like the Stabroek News, at the forefront, cannot simply venture away from this responsibility. And this is not saying that it has.
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Nov 6, 2002
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