Support for the Richmond Hill Protest

Support for the Richmond Hill Protest

Photo : Guyanese in Richmond Hill, New York protests against the racist policies of the PNC Government in Guyana

I applaud and salute the efforts of the Guyanese Solidarity Movement -New York (GSM) and the 100 Anniversary Foundation that organized the picketing last Saturday outside the Zen lounge in Richmond Hill to highlight serious issues confronting the Guyanese nation – anti-Indian racism and political victimization. It was a very hot morning and the protesters showed commitment for their cause to rally against racial injustice and widespread corruption in Guyana. When large numbers of people take to protest, politicians and other key decision-makers would notice and act. So the protesters did fine. And people have a natural right to protest in the US as permitted by the constitution. People have the right to assemble peaceably expressing their views.

GSM Secretary Mr Reuben Khusial was loud and very appreciative in his praise of the NYPD who at all times demonstrated ample professional courtesy and respect in permitting the peaceful protest. The undemocratic efforts of those who tried to stop the protest naturally failed; they don’t understand democracy, mistaking this as Burnham’s PNC Guyana where they can bully resistance fighters.

As someone schooled in protests, I laud the organizers. It takes a lot of time, energy, resources, courage and commitment to organize and or participate in a protest. I organized many protests (between 1975 and 1993) against injustice in Guyana, Trinidad, and New York and participated in countless more for justice and freedom in South Africa, Washington, Harlem, India, and elsewhere. When one engages in protests, the act makes the cause one is supporting or championing feel more real and special. You feel close and attached to it and you want to see results. You are committed to the cause. Besides, protest events also give activists and supporters an opportunity to meet (people not seen a long time), network, swap ideas, build community and help each other. Also, you build special skills and experience in engaging in protest activities. And with time, you become a leader of protests or of activist organizations. I got my start as a protest organizer by joining protest events in Guyana during the early 1970s and later became an organizer of protests in Guyana and New York when I became a student leader.

During that bygone era of the PNC apartheid dictatorship, there was very little support out there for resistance activities or movements combating injustice by the PNC that was then in power in Guyana. A few of us led and participated in the struggle to liberate Guyana.

Few wish to upset the apple cart – i.e. speak out publicly against wrongdoing or support a worthy cause like fighting racism against Indians and Amerindians in Guyana. But the non-participants like to reap the rewards of those who toil and sacrifice their lives to liberate us.

In Richmond Hill, in front of Club Zen, freedom fighters mounted the protest against officials of a racist APNU-AFC government that has flagrantly discriminated against Indians: Indians have been fired from their jobs. Currently some 2,000 sugar workers have been fired from the closure of Wales estate and the PNC-led government is threatening to close Enmore, Rose Hall and Uitvlugt. Closing those additional estates will throw out some 10,000 sugar workers from their livelihood. Some 100,000 will be affected altogether. Who will feed their families? Who will provide for their children to go to school and buy school supplies?

Presently, Guyanese rice farmers have not been getting financial support or subsidies or markets for their crops. The ruling government promised $9,000 a bag for paddy but once they got into power they claimed they never made such promise and also said rice is a private business and not their concern. Yet the PNC-led government has committed billions of dollars to rehabilitate areas where its PNC supporters live. In addition, out of 200 national awards given out by the government over the last three independence anniversaries, only 14% were given to Indians who constitute approximately 45% of the population. Some awards were given only to those Indians who are closely connected with the government.

Also, of the large number of Silk titles, i.e., designation as Senior Counsel given out, only 10% went to Indians. In terms of contracts, non- PNC supporters are hardly considered as worthy. Even for construction projects having to do with Indians or Amerindians only Black PNC supporters are being supported while Indians are left out blatantly. A case in point is the contract for the erection of the platform for the Indian Indenture monument on Corentyne that was given to PNC supporter in Linden; the platform collapsed.

Obviously there is justification for picketing the officials of the government in Richmond Hill last Saturday. Picketing and other forms of protests are justifiable acts to seek redress for grievances.

But there are some (Indians) who would sell their souls for a few crumbs. They not only would not support a protest or be neutral. They would give support to a regime that oppresses people – their own people too. And they are the invitees who attended the Zen lounge function as very important persons. The PNC- led government knows why these arkaties are invited because they are willing to sell out their people. People like me were not invited because I would not support injustice – I fought against Burnhamism and opposed many of the wrongs of the PPP. I did not drink Burnham soup like some of the lackeys; as some are doing same today. Those who supported the fundraiser know what the government has been doing against Indians and Amerindians is wrong. They say so in private, and also in private they condemn the government for its racism. But publicly they associate and support the government hoping it will land them benefits – invitation to a cocktail party, contracts or some corrupt get rich quick scheme. The very things they condemn when the PPP was in office is what they support now and from which they hope to benefit. They sell out their communities, their own people for crumbs. They are arkaties not to be trusted; they are no different from the people they sought to replace. They are equally as corrupt, if not more. And the community must ostracize them; don’t do business with them because they are selfish and they sell out your rights. And don’t socialize with them.

There is widespread injustice and a growing lack of democracy in Guyana and racism against people based on race and party affiliation. More protests are needed in America to highlight and expose these and to win over the support of American politicians to effect change in the former homeland to bring about equity and an end to corruption.

Picketing, rallies and other forms of protests are encouraged because they help bring about change as has happened in America, India, South Africa, UK, etc. Black Americans successfully have used protests to highlight their grievances (fighting racism and to gain racial equality). Protests often catch the attention of government officials and the public at large appealing to their moral conscience. Had Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Bobby Sands, etc. not engaged in protests, change would not have come to their societies; government responded to their protests with the outcome that their people ultimately received their goal (freedom and ethnic equality). So protests as a tool to combat injustice must be encouraged. Organizers may need to launch more protests for desired objectives. There is widespread injustice and lacking of democracy in Guyana against people based on race and party affiliation. More protests are needed in America to highlight and expose these and to win over the support of American politicians to effect change in the former homeland.