Political Activist, Dr David Hinds has stated that Government needs to get serious and address the ethnic insecurities faced by East Indian communities.
Responding to former President Bharrat Jagdeo’s statement to Guyanese in the Diaspora recently, Hinds questioned his motive for the declaration. Asking if Jagdeo was doing it to call attention to the Government or if he was doing it to score points to get them angry, Dr Hinds said “You have to make the distinction,” emphasising that while he does not believe that Jagdeo was being “inherently racist”, he believes it was said to score political points.
“I do not share the view that the statements he made were inherently racist… there are two approaches… one, Indians are being marginalised and you are drawing attention to it and representing them… I see nothing wrong with that… but I think Mr Jagdeo was exploiting a perceived or a real situation for political objective,” he said.
Dr Hinds noted that Jagdeo, being a former President and a possible future President, should be above the “fray” because whatever he says is believable and “his voice has a lot of power”.
However, he explained that whenever a government gains power and places “its own people in power”, the other side feels insecure. “It is called ethnic insecurity. There is ethnic insecurity in the East Indian community and in the African community… and now it is more heightened in the East Indians community because the political control is in the hands of the others,” he said.
Hinds indicated that the test of this Government’s attitude to East Indians would be in what it does, adding that those in power need to go into the Indian communities and face them and answer their questions.
He stated that the Government’s image is not only being dragged through the mud by its non-supporters, but its own supporters were also lambasting it for neglect. Hinds pointed out that Afro-Guyanese are saying the Government is doing nothing for them – that they are not following through on their promises.
“The Government is between this rock and a hard place… its supporters are saying it hasn’t done anything for us and the Indians are saying you are discriminating against us and so the Government has to take this matter seriously,” he posited, stating that the Ethnic Relations Commission and the Social Cohesion Ministry need to step in and conduct massive education drives in both Indian and African communities about cohesion and relieving their ethnic insecurities.
On the other hand, he stated that he was sure that there are East Indians who have been discriminated against.
“… I’m sure in some little village some official is going to say now is we time… I would be lying to you if I were to say it doesn’t happen.”
Public outrage erupted after Jagdeo at a gathering in New York posited that the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Administration is guilty of political and racial discrimination and that there is an assault on Indo-Guyanese people.
The Ministry of the Presidency released a statement condemning the comments, accusing Jagdeo of sowing seeds of division, discord and race hate. The statement also noted that the discrimination claims made by the former Head of State are figments of the PPP/C’s imagination.
But several PPP/C Executive Members stood by Jagdeo’s statements, insisting that what he declared is nothing short of the truth.
In fact, former Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall highlighted that the widespread dismissal of hundreds of Indo-Guyanese in the Public Sector without a hearing and compensation; the repossession and attempts thereof of Core Homes and house lots from predominantly Indo-Guyanese; continuous attempts to expropriate private properties owned by Transport and Certificate of Title, mostly by Indo-Guyanese; the targeting of mainly Indo-Guyanese by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) and the State Assets Recovery Unit (SARU), as well as the confiscation of large sums of money and jewellery; the wanton dismissal of senior management staff at the Guyana Sugar Corporation; the closure of the Wales Sugar Estate affecting hundreds of Indo-Guyanese; the refusal to offer assistance to the rice industry, which is predominated by Indo-Guyanese; and the removal of street lamps from Indo-Guyanese villages while installing street lights in Afro-Guyanese communities, are only a few instances of the discrimination being executed by Government.