RECENT reports of acts of violence against known and perceived supporters of the APNU+AFC coalition are most disheartening.
It all began on Friday, March 6 when supporters of the PPP, apparently at the urgings of that party’s leadership, launched a series of violent attacks on innocent citizens, including schoolchildren and law enforcement officers.
These perpetrators used the occasion, by way of protests against what they were led to believe were attempts to disenfranchise them, to target their fellow citizens. The rage was expressed in broad daylight, and the ethno-racial intent was hardly disguised.
This publication had editorialised on those events, and in the process, we bemoaned the fact that foreign and some local observers had failed to grasp the gravity of those developments. Hence, there was not enough denunciation from those quarters. We were very sure then that that failure would only embolden the so-called protesters. That the PPP did not forcefully denounce the March 6 violence was a telling signal that it had embraced violence as both a tactic as well as a strategy to further its narrow partisan agenda. Violence of any nature is unbecoming; but that which emanates from a place of racial animosity is especially dangerous.
Guyana is no stranger to civil unrest. The scars of the ethnic disturbances of the 1960s are still very fresh in the psyche of our country; we have not yet fully recovered from that brutal period of our national journey. Since then, we have, from time to time, flirted with ethno-political violence, but have managed to hold our country together. But we know only too well that there are forces which are bent on invoking that which they view as legitimate forms of political expression. We, of course, strenuously reject that world view, and call on all Guyanese to do likewise.
If we cannot compete for political office without resort to violence, then we are unfit to be part of an enlightened world. It is not always prudent to name culprits in a tense situation. But we are forced to identify the PPP as a guilty force in this instance; its rhetoric long before the election, and especially since March 2, has become an open licence for the violence we have witnessed these past few weeks. That a political party vying for control of our government could feel comfortable spewing such hateful rhetoric speaks to a dreadful side of our national being that must be pushed back.
We, therefore, lay the responsibility for the recent acts of terror in Region 5 squarely at the feet of that party; the instance of arson on the property of a known supporter of the PNC cannot be read as anything but that. The PPP has a history of “disciplining” Indo-Guyanese who deviate from the majority’s political thinking and action. Those who reside in areas of predominantly PPP supporters are especially vulnerable. These citizens are labeled betrayers whose actions fly in the face of religious-cultural mores, hence the resort to extreme forms of violence, which serve as both penalty and notice to others that the breaking of political ranks would not be tolerated.
This extra-judicial action is nothing short of mob-rule, which has no place in a civilised society. We again call on the authorities to be vigilant against such actions. In this regard, we stand with President Granger in his denunciation of the violence in Region 5, and his call on the police to ensure the safety of citizens. This publication continues to respect the right to peaceful protest as a legitimate expression of political grievance, but the protests we have seen since March 2 do not fall into that category. President Granger’s words are most pertinent: “I urge the law enforcement agencies to act swiftly to ensure the safety of citizens, and to bring perpetrators to justice. The Guyana Police Force must ensure that Law and Order prevail, in the interest of the protection of citizens and the State.”