The goal of the People’s Parliament is the rebuilding of Guyanese society on principles of love, respect, human rights
The People’s Parliament wishes to thank Stabroek News for its coverage of us that appeared on Sunday, September 2nd, 2012. We are happy that Ms. Alleyne spent some time among us, and we invite all Guyanese to join us and experience the People’s Parliament for themselves. We are writing however, to respond to some issues that Ms. Alleyne highlighted in her article, and to clear up any confusion that may exist about what the People’s Parliament is all about.
The People’s Parliament is a gathering of concerned Guyanese from different backgrounds who are occupying the public park on High Street, between Brickdam and Hadfield Street in an attempt to bring attention to the many crises facing our society today. We are working to engage our Guyanese brothers and sisters in activities and discussions about how to positively transform our lives and communities. Our goal is the rebuilding of Guyanese society on principles of love, respect, dignity, human rights, and unity. We want to reclaim our personal and political power. We want to live free from fear, corruption, poverty, and police brutality, in a state that is responsive to our needs, that supports our positive endeavors, and that enables us to fully realize our dreams. This is the vision of the People’s Parliament for the future of Guyana.
We know that this is a huge task and that it will take a great deal of time to achieve these goals. We are trying to transform a society where, for years, we have been misled, oppressed and repressed by those in power, where our voice and creativity has been stifled and ignored, where for too often we have been paralyzed by fear and apathy, giving up hope of anything ever changing for the better, and remaining yoked to a system of exploitation that drains the will to challenge the status quo. Too many Guyanese people right now are discouraged, divided, distracted, hopeless, and simply struggling to survive. Few of us are truly living in fulfilling, meaningful, and positive ways.
The frustration expressed by some individuals at the People’s Parliament, the seeming ‘confusion’ and clashing opinions, the different conversations-all this must be understood in the proper context.
First of all, the People’s Parliament is occupying but not controlling this entire public space. We have established ground rules for our group and the space we are occupying which we are learning to abide by, but the park is open to all members of the public. As such, it must be clearly understood that not all the opinions expressed and activities that go on in the park are endorsed by the members of the People’s Parliament. However, the fact is that Guyanese society today is one of much pain, stress, and downpression, and as Ms. Alleyne correctly noted, there are many who abuse drugs and alcohol in an attempt to escape, albeit temporarily, the hardships they face in their lives.
Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, these individuals, along with those who are homeless, jobless, and mentally ill, are our brothers and sisters. We must recognize them, and understand the reasons for their condition if we are to achieve true societal transformation.
In the two and a half weeks that the People’s Parliament has been occupying this public space, we have interacted with hundreds of our fellow Guyanese. We have intervened in several cases of public physical and verbal abuse where we were able to prevent fights and women from getting beat up by men. We have assisted individuals involved in traffic accidents, a woman searching for her missing Alzheimer’s patient father, and provided a comforting community for individuals who needed a place to rest their bodies and minds in moments of (physical and mental) crisis. Our public presence also serves to deter would-be criminals in the area and actually encourages other individuals to utilize the park without fear. Families with small children sit comfortably among us in the evening, youth read to one another, and strangers become friends. In effect- we are following the advice of Mahatma Gandhi to ‘be the change you want to see.’
Yes, there are differences of opinion among us. To expect otherwise is foolish; groupthink is dangerous. Yes, the conversations are varied. Yes, the direction for future action is still being debated. This is what democracy in action looks like- an open, passionate, stimulating, free exchange of thoughts and ideas. We welcome and relish this and are proud of ourselves for having created a space like the People’s Parliament where ‘ordinary’ Guyanese can engage with each other on this level. Let’s be clear though- the People’s Parliament is not just another gyaff session. We are a group of serious and action-oriented individuals. We have agreed on some key principles and are engaging in a process of collective decision-making to guide our future actions. We are committed to listening to each other, to working together to achieve our goals, and to peacefully transforming Guyanese society for the better.
We know that this is what the entire people of Guyana crave. In the weeks that we have been engaged in this public dialogue, people have overwhelmingly expressed their desire for more unity, love, and understanding among one another, and for a government that is accountable and responsive to all our needs. Sadly, those who have been elected to positions of power have ignored we ordinary people for far too long.
In their quest for fame and fortune, politicians and big business have been plundering the land and spirit of Guyana. We have had enough; we are sick and tired of being ignored by the elected officials, of not having our interests represented, and of being taken advantage of. We will take it no longer. We are standing up for our rights, for justice and equality, for a system that values people instead of profit, and for governance that responds to the needs and desires of the citizens. This is what the People’s Parliament is all about. We call on Guyanese from all backgrounds who share these ideals to join us and help make this a reality. The People’s Parliament is in session every day on High Street, between Hadfield and Brickdam; all are welcome.
for Members of the People’s Parliament