“President and the government must be sensitive to the impact of any campaign to deny justice for Walter Rodney or to taint the evidence in that regard on the WPA, one of its constituent parties.”
Executive member of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA), Dr. David Hinds is disappointed in the “partisan” stance recently taken by President David Granger on some of the leaked findings of the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry (COI) Report.
The findings of the COI essentially say that the People’s National Congress (PNC) administration which was led by the late Forbes Burnham was responsible for the death of the Guyanese scholar.
Granger was quoted in the media as saying that the report and its findings are “flawed”, based on “hearsay evidence” and that it would be challenged.
Dr. Hinds said that the President and Leader of a coalition party –of which the WPA is part—blundered by making such comments as it comes across as being partisan.
“I disagree with the President’s interpretation of the report, but that is not the source of my disappointment. Had the President told the reporters that he was speaking as leader of the PNC, I would not have been disappointed. The PNC has a right to be aggrieved by the findings of the Commission; after all the PNC government of that time and its leader is indicted by the report,” Hinds said in his recent writings on his website www.guyanacaribbean politics.com .
Dr. Hinds said that the matter of Walter Rodney’s assassination is partisan at one level, but it is of national importance at another level.
The WPA Member said that Rodney’s assassination and the report of the COI, in the final analysis, raise the larger question of the nature and role of the government and state as it relates to violence against those who express dissent in particular and the citizenry in general.
Dr. Hinds said that Granger, in his capacity of Head of State and Government of Guyana, has taken a clear partisan stance on a matter of high national importance and one that has continually divided the country.
“This is what bothers me. I knew the President fairly well long before he assumed high office and concluded that he is person of political integrity who has the rare quality of not allowing partisan differences to stand in the way of the larger good. His approach to the matter at hand, however, flies in the face of that praxis,” expressed the Buxtonian.
Hinds said that Granger must know that when he speaks on behalf of the government he speaks for a coalition of parties. On the matter of Walter Rodney, Hinds said that it is no secret that two of the established parties in the Coalition, PNC and WPA, have had differing views. In this regard, he said that Granger, therefore, could not be speaking for both parties when he rubbished the findings of the COI.
The WPA Member added, “The President said that the findings and the COI Report would be challenged but by whom? The Office of the President, the Government or the PNC? I believe the President, in his official state capacity, should refrain from pronouncing on such a highly charged matter; he could have commented on the matter without taking a partisan stance.”
Dr. Hinds contended that Granger is the President of all of Guyana and his stance on national matters should at all times strive to reflect cohesion and not division. The political activist said that he is sympathetic to the difficulty of balancing party leadership and national leadership, but as President “one has to try harder in that regard than the rest of us.”
Dr. Hinds opined that partisan stands should be left to the parties. He said that the President and Government should not be caught up with the partisan interpretation of the report, but with the implications of the findings, flawed or not, for the country as a whole.
He asserted that there are two ready implications, the first being the prospects for the healing of the nation. In this regard, he said that the formation of the APNU and the subsequent founding of the Coalition have gone a long way towards the healing of political wounds in some sections of the society; wounds that were the result of decades of political confrontation.
Dr. Hinds said that critical to that healing was the political alliance of the PNC and the WPA and the later alliance with the Alliance For Change (AFC) which includes important sections of the Indian Guyanese community.
The political activist said that that unity of the various forces has given the country some hope that it is possible to move beyond the political divide to work in the interest of all. With this in mind, Dr. Hinds said that the government has a responsibility to ensure that that the findings of the COI are not used to upset that unity. He said that the President and the government must be sensitive to the impact of any campaign to deny justice for Walter Rodney or to taint the evidence in that regard on the WPA, one of its constituent parties.
The second implication of the COI report he noted is the issue of political and other violence by the State.
“I would prefer the president and his Cabinet, after careful study of the report, address the issue of political violence, in particular State and Para-State Violence. We did not need the Rodney COI report to alert us to the scourge of State Violence in Guyana. Our Independence experience is riddled with instances of the use by governments of the State apparatus to inflict violence against political opponents,” asserted Dr. Hinds.
The WPA member said that this is a culture inherited from the colonial masters and tailored to the needs of post-colonial governance.
From the attempted assassination of Joshua Ramsammy to the tear gassing of bauxite workers in jail cells to the gunning down of Shaquille Grant and Courtney Crum-Ewing, Dr. Hinds said that post-colonial governments have used violence against citizens in general and government critics in particular.
“This is what I would want the president and his cabinet to challenge,” he added.