The Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) has strongly condemned the “unwarranted and brutal shooting” of citizens engaged in a peaceful protest on Tuesday and questions if it had been sanctioned by newly-sworn in President Donald Ramotar, the Commissioner of Police and government officials.
The union also called on all individuals and institutions to condemn the action of the police and to demand that a commission of inquiry into the events of December 6 be convened.
In a press release, the GPSU said the shooting by “trigger-happy ranks” of the Guyana Police Force has remained unchallenged by Police Commissioner Henry Greene and the PPP/C government and by inference may have found favour in these circles. The GPSU and like-minded stakeholders believe that for far too long, protests of any nature in Guyana have come to be seen as criminal activities undertaken by “thugs and hooligans”. “This attitude is then used as the subterfuge for employing excessive force by the authorities to intimidate or otherwise prevent the populace from exercising their democratic right to peaceful protest” enshrined in Article 147 of the Constitution.
The union said the protest action followed dissatisfaction with the role of the Guyana Elections Commis-sion during and after the November 28 General and Regional Elections. It said it will never countenance the use of excessive force to break the back of a peaceful picket, which the union said “deserves the highest condemnation by all decent and law-abiding citizens of Guyana.” This does not augur well for a new Administration that is only a few days in office to have blood on its hands, it added.
The GSPU further condemned the indiscriminate, reckless and irresponsible action of the police ranks, their obvious disregard for human life and the use of tear gas in a populated area for the dispersal of a crowd, without consideration for the presence of primary and nursery schools in the immediate environs of the Square of the Revolution. The police force has said that its ranks were not responsible for releasing tear gas.
The union called on the police to desist from conduct suggestive of an occupying force and to exercise caution and professionalism when dealing with situations involving Guyanese, “who invariably are treated as mere collateral damage.” The GPSU reminded the police force that at all times during the execution of its mandate it must observe and not trample on the constitutional rights of individuals, even if ordered to do so.