The situation that African Guyanese are confronted with requires a political response

Dear Editor,

The repressive actions of the security forces in Buxton over the last three months, presumably on the orders of the government leave no doubt that the residents of this village are the victims of collective punishment which is designed to subjugate them once and for all time. The situation in Buxton has once again turned for the worse. The latest deterioration began with the fatal shooting of Donna Herod in September and includes the most recent police/army executions of two young men, Noel James and Orlando Andrews at Brush Dam who were alleged to have fired on a heavily armed unit of joint service personnel, and the arrest and torture of alleged wanted man David Leander.

Guyanese were informed via the incredible government propaganda machinery that these men were experienced militants who participated in numerous operations (of a military nature) as members of an armed group. At the same time, we are asked to believe that these experienced militants chose to engage a heavily armed unit of soldiers and police with only small hand guns and a few rounds of ammunition. How more ridiculous will these explanations get? Who are the authorities trying to fool? Anyone or group with small arms who seek to engage an opponent with greater fire power in a fire-fight is determined to commit suicide. To all appearances suicide is not part of the African Guyanese Resistance culture.

The official version of these killings of James and Orlando is questionable in light of eye witness reports which claimed that the men were executed and not killed in a shoot-out as claimed by the security forces and government. One of those executed was reported in a public comment by an eye-witness, to have been shot coming out of the yard with his hands held high above his head thereby posing no danger to the officers. The other, after being wounded in an escape bid, ran and fell in a trench. He was found later by the pursuing security forces and allegedly executed in cold blood.

It is interesting to note that in the case of David Leander, eye witnesses reported that he was arrested while riding his bike and was taken by the security forces to the back-lands where he was beaten and shot. The police said that he was wanted for the execution of Minister Satyadeow Sawh and his siblings. What is ironic is that when he was taken before the court on Friday, November 2, 2007 the charges he was required to answer to were for attempted murder and drug possession. As is usual in these situations in Guyana, the police have threatened to impose additional charges for more “serious offences” after the fact. One would have expected that if the police and government had evidence of Leander’s involvement in Minister Sawh’s killing as they claimed, the priority for the authorities would have been the instituting of the charge for Satyadeow Sawh’s murder particularly in light of the fact that the PPP/C and government have said that the killing of the Minister was not done in a robbery attempt but was politically motivated.

If we accept as true the regime’s claim that a group of African Guyanese armed militants executed the Minister for political reasons, we must therefore accept that it is an admission by them that a political war is being fought out with guns between the state and armed organized force/s acting with political objectives. I have long contended that the government’s so-called war against crime has, for the greater part, been in fact a war by the government against the African Guyanese poor and powerless. The militants who have emerged as a result of this vicious war that is being waged against the African Guyanese poor and powerless are on record as saying that they are resisting the state’s oppression of the African Guyanese masses.

While the nation is still confused by the developments in the society in relation to government’s crime fighting claims it is clear that most Guyanese are not aware that the regime is waging a political war under the cover of fighting crime. This apparent ignorance on the part of the public is aiding the rulers in their criminal conduct and they are taking full advantage of the situation. What confuses people more is the apparent ease with which this PPP/C regime, which has always been hostile to African interests, has been able to successfully manipulate a predominantly African security force in its determined efforts to wipe out an organized expression of African Guyanese resistance and aspiration for justice.

In its efforts to prosecute this war by the state against those suspected to be members of the Armed Resistance and their supporters, it appears that the regime has given permission to the security forces to adopt and use some of the worst methods of repression including torture and chemicals, that have been employed by oppressive governments worldwide against their opponents. One can only conclude that the government is complicit in the security forces adoption of torture as a weapon of choice against its opponents when Minister Rohee’s statement that the security forces are allowed to interrogate is taken into consideration.

Unfortunately, the rulers are getting away with their criminal conduct of arrest, torture and execution of young African men because the political, social and cultural forces in the African Guyanese community are entrapped by the government’s propaganda and their own fear. As a result, the African leadership in Guyana is unable to give an appropriate political response to these criminal actions of the state. Our present non response as a community to these acts of state atrocities is one of helplessness. It is not helping either the African or national cause. Quite frankly, whatever is our individual attitude to the Resistance, collectively we have a duty as an African community to take a principled stand in defence of African lives and against the destruction of the village of Buxton by the rulers. This is a moral and political duty. Our current posture is one of defeatism and collective weakness. We seem unable to do what people in any civilized society would do in relation to state excesses. We are allowing the security forces to be judge, jury and executioner. Once a person is said to be a suspect he is executed without trial.

Our collective conduct as leaders in the African community is not inspiring the masses and they are questioning our ability to lead. A leadership and people who are unable to stop the rampant execution of its young men by state security forces are inexorably heading down the road to re-enslavement. The youths on the front line of this peculiar political struggle are confronting the worst form of state repression. They are giving up the only thing they have to give – their lives – and they will continue to resist the oppressors and the forces aligned to them like other dignified human beings have done over ages. However, their sacrifice is wasted by the weak, vacillating and ineffective leadership of the African collective.

To those African and other Guyanese who continue to buy into the ruler’s propaganda that the security forces are simply carrying out its mandate from the government to fight crime, I ask you to ask yourselves why have there not been similar actions against the criminal activities of the drug lords? How many of the drug lords in Guyana have been killed or even arrested by the state security forces? Why has the police force been unable to identify and arrest the killers of Ronald Waddell? Why have the joint security forces been unable to locate the Buxton youth who was kidnapped a few weeks ago and those who kidnapped him? And more importantly, why has there been no demand by President Jagdeo on the security forces to find the guns which Roger Khan in the lead up to the 2006 elections said that he would have used to protect the PPP?

Finally, to make a long story short, the situation that African Guyanese are confronted with requires a political response from the African community. We have to organize a massive march into Buxton to demonst
rate our solidarity with the village and its people.

Yours faithfully,

Tacuma Ogunseye

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