by Vidyaratha Kissoon
The Georgetown City Constabulary officer killed Marlon Fredericks not far from the 24 hour Bourda market where fruits and other Guyana niceness are available.
When people, especially from overseas, say ‘ow but not everyting bad in Guyana.. ow’.. and you say true true because Guyana is a place where mango, tangerine, watermelon, orange, passion fruit, banana, pawpaw are more easily available than any guarantees that the City Constabulary and other security officers have a consistent understanding of the humanity of those they arrest. According to the lawyer defending the officer, it was an ‘unfortunate incident’ executed during the course of duties.
Does the City Constabulary have rules for when to use firearms?
Is the City Council paying the legal fees for the officer who killed Marlon Fredericks?
A City Constabulary officer raped a child last year. The Mayor and City Council took its time to resolve the matter. There is no indication of any child protection mechanisms in place at the Mayor and City Council.
There was no outrage or commitment from the Government to immediately transform the Georgetown City Constabulary and its management.
Prime Minister Nagamootoo who is responsible for human rights and governance has not said anything, either publicly or privately on his Facebook page about the immediate work which will be done with the City Constabulary and other security officers.
A few days before City Constabulary officers beat, detained, then killed Marlon Fredericks, the Director of Public Information was privately on social media proposing that the Government of India was in collusion with slap-and-strip bheri’s women and men and possibly other people of Indian origin who are appalled at the Coalition Government because of the First Person of Indian Origin (PIO) parliamentary conference in India.
It was the same day that Donald Trump privately shared his views about those of us who did not come from Norway or near Norway.
Journalists in India had gotayed the question of the invitation only to sitting MPs who were not Ministers or Speakers of the House in a media briefing. The response seemed to be that Ministers get to visit depending on their portfolio.
Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, the Maldives and Pakistan were not among the countries invited to he PIO Parliamentarian conference. Guyana sent the largest delegation. Based on the numbers, it seems that the PPP formed the largest single PIO political party.
If I was inhaling fumes from the fresh green paint on the walls around me I could imagine that the Government of India had organised this whole thing just to get the PPP senior functionaries to India to get rid of the Director of Public Information and the other coalition appointees.
Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi was bold in his opening in how he said India viewed its diaspora – persons of Indian origin are permanent ambassadors and partners in development for India.
In other words, me, Prime Minister Nagamootoo, the Director of Public Information slap-and-strip bheri and his men and women of Indian origin are permanent ambassadors of a country which has consistently developed science and technology regardless of which political party is in power, and whose divisions intensify because of a film based on a historic epic poem and where there is sporadic violence based on religious, caste, gender or other differences.
I am Hindu. The origins of Hinduism are in the space occupied in post colonial secular troubled India (and Afghanistan). The Hindutva ideology which fuels the support of the current Indian government is obnoxious to me, much as many Muslims reject terrorism and many Christians would not reach out to Donald Trump to be saved from gay marriage . Many Guyanese pastors, more than the PIO contingent, were part of that appeal to Donald Trump.
A Guyanese born woman of mixed-everything-but-Indian heritage told me that she did not like seeing the Hindu religious symbols in Guyana because they meant that Hindu Guyanese are not really fully Guyanese. We were educated in the same schools, and during the same time in Guyana. I don’t know if I convinced her that it is possible to be Hindu and Guyanese.
India is the country of oppressors and instigators of division. India is also a country of resistance where some women organise to resist patriarchy, hijra and other LGBT citizens reject homophobia, and social justice work which resonates around the world. I see no difficulty in maintaining an affinity with India (and not its Government) while being a citizen of Guyana, even as I have no intention of being an ambassador.
Guyana’s humanity consists of people who have different origins and interests. The Director of Public Information’s private speculation generated some of the responses which make me wonder if I am really accepted as Guyanese because it seems acknowledging the link to India is a threat to some myth of a unified Guyana where City constabulary officers can beat and detain citizens and where the gun is used to shoot unarmed citizens.
President Granger welcomed Chinese immigrants to Guyana at the 165th anniversary of the first arrival of Chinese immigrants.The Government of China claims the Chinese diaspora as the means to market Chinese goods and services around the world. Both China and India want to be super powers, and they find ways to engage their diasporas.
And when Mandarin labelled powdered milk hit the markets, I saw reports on social media about racial behaviour against Chinese citizens. Nothing President Granger said it seems, made any difference to the citizens who resent the Chinese presence in Guyana. The recently appointed Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) does not have any Chinese association representative. The ERC will have a lot of work to do.
It is easier to speculate about the Government of India’s threatening the Coalition Government than it is to talk about any achievements under Prime Minister Nagamootoo’s human rights and governance programme. The Alliance for Change said nothing at their press conference either about their suspicion of the Indian Government or the work they are doing to help their members and supporters to deal with suspicion of racial activity.
If only the nice mango and watermelon and tangerine could mean a country in which no security officer would beat, rape or kill any citizen as part of their duties.
If only the nice fruits could mean we had a professional Department of Public Information which worked for all of the taxpayers. If only we had a DPI which would not speculate and fuel racial divisions, but would look at the global opportunities which are possible because of our diverse ethnic origins and our diverse presence around the world, and which would interview the MPs who went to India and let them share how they felt about the conference.
If only the nice fruits and racial differences did not have to be distractions from the constant undermining of our humanity.