There is no doubt that the group of killers described as ‘terrorist’ by the Commissioner of Police which carried out the hijacking of a car and the murder of the driver/owner, the shooting of two policemen, the fire bombing of the Supreme Court and arson or attempted arson at the Richard Ishmael school, intended a direct assault on the lawfully constituted State of Guyana. Correctly designated as ‘terrorists’’ these are cold-blooded criminals who use ‘violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.’ The aim in this case is the violent overthrow of the Government by first creating fear among the citizenry and then attempting to destroy its credibility.
There may be a temptation to link these attacks to the recent allegations of horrific torture against a 15 year old boy at the hands of policemen. There may be an attempt to justify these acts as some ugly attempts at revenge. They are nothing of the kind. They are the pre-meditated actions of a gang of bandits who have already revealed their hands in the recent burning of the Ministry of Health. To create some sympathy from the angry or uninformed, they seize upon unfortunate events in which persons employed by the government might be unlawfully involved and carry out their vengeful deeds in the dead of night, as cowards do when they attack the defenceless, much like the deed they want us to believe that they are protesting.
The allegations of torture of 15 year old boy by policemen is a separate and distinct issue from the murder of Ramenauth Bisram. The two incidents are unconnected. They must not be confused or linked in any way. It is unhelpful to mention them in the same sentence. Justice for Ramenauth Bisram, who was very well known to me, as a comrade and client, and whose brutal murder moved me deeply, has nothing to do with the torture of the Jaikaran child. They should also not be confused with the agenda of any newspaper. Implications and confusions arise when such linkages are made. The sentiments are understandable but are misused by others and are all seized upon by the terrorists and those who feed their hate with daily venom which spews forth from the columns of certain ‘essayists’ in certain newspaper columns, trying to link government officials with the ordering of the torture.
The alleged torture of the 15 year old has been rightly condemned by all right thinking persons and organizations without equivocation. This dreadful assault was an aberration. While it should not have happened at all, it must be pointed out that it does not happen every day. There having been a spate of such allegations, it is hoped that the authorities will have a thorough going review of their practices, procedures and institutions to ensure that it does not happen again and that the citizens of Guyana, including suspects, are protected, rather than harmed by the Police. This should be the outcome of the allegations, quite apart from any criminal proceedings against the alleged perpetrators. These steps, boldly taken, publicly declared and unequivocally pursued, will pull the rug of justification from under the ‘terrorists’ who can only sustain their creed by creating fear and misleading the ignorant.
The exposure of the torture was made by a newspaper assisted by courageous police men or women. But it must also be remembered that further acts of brutality were exposed by Bernard De Santos, a PPP/C Member of Parliament, who convened an emergency meeting of available lawyers at his home and who issued a statement. The subsequent appearance of a few of them, including Mr. De Santos on CNS Channel 6 programme Voice of the People played an important role in building public revulsion at this incident. This quick reaction to police brutality demonstrates the vigilance of our community and our best hopes for our safety.
Similar vigilance must be displayed by all those who value the freedoms for which we have fought with great tenacity and who wish these freedoms to be preserved. The first aim of the terrorist is to create fear. A similar reaction to the terrorists’ now clear agenda must be forthcoming if our democratic rights are to be preserved.
The criminal insurgents of 2002, with whom political figures once flirted, and their heirs of more recent years, who have been ignominiously defeated, have in turn spawned full blooded terrorists. There is no doubt that these will meet the same end. But if we reject their murderous intent with the same amount of commitment that we fought for our freedom and fight against brutality and torture, we will succeed in defeating them as well. We must also adopt the same postures and ensure that we do not analyse the motives of these killers, attribute their cowardly acts to any kind of political defects in our society or seek out solutions other than to apprehend and prosecute them. If we do less, if we fall into the trap of going behind their violence, we are starting at the top of a slippery slope of giving recognition to terrorists and accepting the philosophy that violence is a legitimate method of political struggle.
Terrorists usually have a political agenda. We do not know what the agenda of this group is, nor should we seek any knowledge. But since it is obvious that it is anti-government, then all politicians should unreservedly condemn these terrorists’ acts with the same energy that they condemned the torture of the Jaikaran boy. If they wish the public to hold them to the same standards of credibility, they would unhesitatingly condemn the unprovoked shooting of policemen, the brutal killing of innocent civilians and the wanton destruction of property.
Let the voices be heard!