Unity and Tolerance

THE United Nations designated March 21 as the Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The day was set aside to focus attention on discrimination and discriminatory policies following the Sharpeville massacre in 1960 during the period of apartheid rule in South Africa.

Speaking to mark the occasion, Prime Minister Brigadier (Ret’d) Mark Phillips reiterated Guyana’s commitment to implementing policies and programmes that promote equality and justice.

According to the Prime Minister: “Your government is committed to implementing policies and programmes that promote equality and justice, including increasing access to education, healthcare and employment opportunities and ensuring that all Guyanese are part of a national development agenda.”

As observed by the Prime Minister, this is a good time to reflect on the progress made in the fight against racial discrimination and to recommit ourselves to the ongoing task of the achievement of equality, tolerance and unity within the framework of the One Guyana vision as articulated by President, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali.

The fact is that we have as a society come a long way since the turbulent 1960’s when attempts were made by the then PNC, in collaboration with vested interests, to remove the democratically elected PPP by force.

The aim, as openly stated by the political opposition, was “to oppose and depose” the PPP government. One unfortunate development which resulted out of such misguided actions was the fostering of a climate of racial and political animosity and bitterness, the likes of which the country has never experienced before. People were harassed, beaten and in some cases killed, their homes destroyed simply because of the colour of their skin.

Thankfully, we have moved past that sordid period and the country today is evolving to a much higher level of ethnic tolerance and racial unity.

There is absolutely no discrimination in the manner in which economic and social goods of the country are distributed by the PPP/C administration. In fact, the government has been extremely even-handed in its dealings with the Guyanese people. This is manifested, among other ways, in the housing programme of the government and access to employment opportunities in the public sector.

Regrettably, there are still some opposition elements in our society who seem bent on sowing the seeds of division in our society. These persons, however, are destined to fail. Guyanese are today much wiser and more matured politically to fall prey to such nefarious designs.

Discrimination, regardless of the form it takes — political, economic, racial, ethnic, religious or gender — is an abomination and must be condemned. And even though there has been some progress globally to suppress this scourge, it is still rearing its ugly head in several parts of the world.

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