Shooting of peaceful protesters an assault on their fundamental rights–ACDA

ACDA condemns the use of rubber bullets by the Guyana Police Force to break up a peaceful protest on Tuesday, calling it the latest in a series of assaults on citizens’ fundamental rights.

The African Cultural and Development Association (ACDA) said the actions of police violate all internal security procedures which the Police Commissioner and Commander of ‘A’ Division are well aware of,  and it urged all right-thinking Guyanese to denounce them.

The group also said the PPP/C party and government’s silence on the shooting when compared with their swift condemnation of APNU’s vigils outside the homes of Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission Dr Steve Surujbally and Chief Elections Officer Gocool Boodoo speaks volumes.

ACDA says  the ruling party’s behaviour compels  any objective observer to believe that what has emerged since the swearing in of President Donald Ramotar is a clear manifestation of his commitment  to continue they previous administration’s policies. “The shoot first mentality which has characterized PPP/C rule since 1992 is unacceptable and counterproductive to the development of civilised relations [among] the police, the regime and the African Community,” ACDA said in a press statement.

ACDA said while it prefers to look forward rather than backward “we cannot ignore the fact that only two days after the new President took office the blood of African Guyanese was shed by agents of the new regime.” This can only mean bad news for Guyana and cannot be ignored, it added, noting that the police force cannot gain trust through inconsistent implementation of the law.

It pointed out that during Ramotar’s tenure as General Secretary of the PPP/C he would have participated in policy making decisions which influenced its actions and “therefore he has moral responsibility for previous PPP/C administration’s stewardship of the government and the security forces which led to the worst crime/security crisis in the country’s recent history.” During that time, hundreds of Guyanese, primarily of African descent, and including members of the police force, were killed, ACDA noted. This period of violence was preceded by unwarranted acts of police brutalisation and as such the group is urging Police Commissioner Henry Greene to ensure that police use a more humane approach when confronting citizens in a public space, it added.

Further, ACDA said it is still waiting for charges to be brought against PPP/C member Odinga Lumumba for allegedly assaulting a polling official on Election Day and Kwame McCoy for allegedly assaulting a citizen one week before elections were held.

At the same time, ACDA is calling on Africans and all progressive and peace-loving citizens to stand in defence of their constitutional rights. “Peaceful protests in ACDA’s opinion represent the dividing line between freedom and the PPP/C’s new forms of slavery.” The group said it salutes the young people for the courage and resolve they have demonstrated and it stands in solidarity with them in the struggle for free and fair elections, verification of the statements of polls and a government of national unity. For ACDA, peace without justice is the road to slavery,” it said.

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