We endorse Swami Aksharananda’s sentiments expressed in his letter `Dipavali should not be used as an occasion for attacking one another’ (SN November 16, 2012) and his appeal for messages on religious occasions to be generous and charitable as well as the need for extending open palms rather than clenched fists.
As the Swami recognized, politics and religion are deeply intertwined and as our research has discovered, uncompromising stances are necessary at times of injustice and inequality. This has played out in all of the epics of Hinduism be it the Mahabharata war or between Ram and Ravan in the Ramayana.
It is the PPP, the most powerful political force in Guyana at the last elections that show signs of intransigence in refusing to have Mr. Clement Rohee resign as a Minister. Mr. Rohee is the person ultimately accountable for the deaths of over 200 young men as the head of the security sector and the only fair option at this time is his removal from that sector. Therefore, if the majority of Guyana continues to stand firm on this issue, it is not intransigence, it is politics of principle. The responsible opposition reaction to the cutting down of over 200 young lives at the barrel of the Police guns can demand nothing less. The AFC must stand firmly with the values of goodwill and generosity of spirit by ensuring those ultimately responsible for these irresponsible, reckless and unlawful losses of life are justly treated. The just treatment for Mr. Rohee is summary removal from the security sector.
If that is what Swami calls a scorched earth policy, then we are proud to support such a policy since justice must be served to the victims and their families. With rights to govern, comes the responsibility to govern and the two cannot be separated. The PPP as the Government must be held responsible for the poor state of governance and personal security in Guyana, not the AFC.
The agents of the PPP, instead of shooting those 200 men or denying the mother at Plastic City proper housing or the workers of Guyana a living wage, could have taken a more progressive position on crime fighting, housing and the income of the workers. The strongest political forces must approach the developmental challenges in Guyana with open palms rather than clenched fist. Cutting down 200 youths in their prime with bullets is a clenched fist strategy. Having mothers live in filth and unsanitary conditions at Plastic City while the PPP leaders live in Taj Mahals, is a clenched fist strategy. Paying the Gail Teixeiras and Odinga Lumumbas million-dollar salaries when the sugar workers earn less than $50,000 a month is a clenched fist strategy. Spending over $50 billion of taxpayer funds without their permission on “pie in the sky” projects like the Marriott Hotel is a clenched fist strategy.
Guyana is being scorched not because of the AFC but because of the PPP failure to put in place competent ministers, public policy and systems of justice and fairness.
Thus we plead with Swami and other religious leaders with his wisdom such as the Catholic and Anglican Bishops to be more actively engaged in the process of bringing the entire dialogue back to the centre of gravity. As a prerequisite for this to happen, Rohee must be removed forthwith from the security sector since he has been an abject failure at protecting and serving the citizens of the nation.
Dr Asquith Rose and Harish S. Singh