The PNC and Crime Inquiries
Photo : Ravi Dev
ROAR of Ravi Dev 2-1
Last month, I wrote about the 20th anniversary of the Ethnic Riots of Jan 12, 1998. I referred to a very polemical letter I had written a week after the tragic event, “The accord rewards the PNC for jettisoning the rule of law”. The PNC had refused to accept the internationally certified results of the December 1997 elections that gave victory to the PPP. In the wake of its protests demanding the resignation of President Janet Jagan, more than 200 Indian Guyanese were beaten on that day in the streets of Georgetown by African Guyanese. The intent was to demand the politicians examine the fundamental contradictions that provoked such eruptions from our people than just use "Inquiries" to cast blame, as the present PNC COI's are meant to do.
“The PNC went into the elections under some misguided notion that they could wean away enough Indians (with the help of the micro parties), from the PPP to win the elections outright. (When they lost), they proceeded to do what the PNC can do best - destabilize the PPP. Seeking ex-parte injunctions, staging marches, closing down businesses and governmental offices, appealing to “kith and kin” in the disciplined forces, they were bent on forcing the PPP to conclude as they had in 1964, that they could not govern the country, and for the PNC to step into their shoes.
Photo : President David Granger
In tandem with these activities, they made escalating demands, as will all bullies when they see their victim backing down. The PPP has gone beyond what even the PNC had been asking for. For instance the proposals for constitutional reforms and a truncated term of office were suggested by the PPP on its own, according to Mr Ralph Ramkarran of the PPP.
The PPP misjudges the PNC...the PNC will be satisfied with nothing less than total power. It is not interested with sharing power with the PPP, which Mr Ramkarran informs us, is implied by its offer of Constitutional reform. Hoyte is following his mentor Burnham in absolutely rejecting this option. As soon as the Caricom team had departed, Hoyte, while addressing his “Religious Rally” declared that he would accept nothing less than the PPP out of office. The PNC can, and will, manufacture any number of reasons to abrogate the Accord during the “Forensic Audit” phase.
And it is because of this dichotomy between what is said and what is meant by the PNC that this Accord and any other initiative will eventually founder. For we are further nurturing the cynicism created during the PNC’s dictatorship which surrounds our political processes and institutions. We are perpetuating the morally debilitating practice where we knew the dictator was lying, the dictator knew he was lying but we all pretended we were dealing with the truth. Pretty soon very few of us could even distinguish the lies from the few truths that might have come our way. Truth became whatever the dictator said was true.
Guyana will never be capable of sustained development (in its wider sense) unless we destroy this culture of lying and make-believe and the participants in the political process are seen as legitimate by all Guyanese. This condition does not now exist. If we cannot deal with truth, however harsh it may be, then we will always be interacting with each other with distrust and suspicion. There have been several commentators who have lauded President Mandela and the post-apartheid South African accommodations which have allowed that country to move forward.
None of these accommodations and progress, however, would have been possible without the establishment of their Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Its work has not been to settle scores but to bare to all peoples the past of the present players. South Africans can then in, reconciliation put that past behind, make choices -political and otherwise -and have confidence in the system.
For the overwhelming number of Indians in Guyana, they have no confidence in the PNC because of that Party’s sordid record during their illegal dictatorship. Murders, rapes, discrimination, theft, lootings, and riggings by individuals who today cant and carp of “forensic audits” leave a bitterness in mouths that amounts at times to nausea. These cannot be swept under, or brokered away, by any “Accord”, especially after January 12th. Guyana will see no real progress without a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.”
In the midst of the present PNC “Crime COI’s” we repeat our warning.