My four-year-old daughter Aishwarya is so fond of nature that she can hardly resist the opportunity to go to the park whenever the temperature is above 50 degrees. Saturday provided us with such a day and we were both enjoying the pleasure of an early spring in our neighbourhood park, when my IPhone became abuzz with urgent messages of shock and support. This was all due to a recent defamatory post on a blog site in Guyana. I was most dumbfounded by the skullduggery that was printed about me when I got the opportunity to witness it.
I pen this letter in response to that libelous, vile and intentionally destructive characterization of me by the blog, liveinguyana.blogspot.com. which is operated by supporters of the current government. Under the caption, ‘Exposing shameless supporters of Benschop’s terrorist activities,’ my name, photograph and other personal information is publicly displayed and I am wrongly accused of both financing Mark Benschop and, most dangerously, fund-raising US$2000.00 to assassinate the police officers responsible for the torturing of the teenager in 2009. These are quite simply, complete and utter lies.
This nefarious, libellous act calls for international condemnation and an urgent investigation into the source of this defamatory blog posting. The information disseminated there is far from the truth.
Back in 2009 when I read the headline about the tortured teenager at the hands of members of the Guyana Police Force and saw the picture attached to the article, like others who haven’t lost their humanity, I felt compelled to act and galvanize support for his family through this most difficult time. I held a fundraiser at my home which was attended by Guyanese of all political persuasions and ethnic backgrounds and others who, like me, were acting benevolently.
Throughout this process, I was in constant contact with Khemraj Ramjattan, then the attorney representing the tortured teen, apprising him of my intention to solicit funds on the child’s behalf. I even had communications with Ms Sheila Holder, who acted on Mr Khemraj Ramjattan’s behalf whilst he was travelling out of the country on business.
Mark Benschop came into the picture when it was agreed by those who donated money for the tortured teen’s medical expenses, not to use members directly connected with any political party as intermediaries to get the money to the boy’s family. The Benschop Foundation at the time was providing support to the family and we saw him as the best conduit to get the money to Guyana. The money was handed over to the parents and tortured teen by Mark, which was witnessed and reported by the mainstream press there. Those who donated money were extremely pleased at the transparency of the process and felt gratified that they were able to be good Samaritans when others were distancing themselves from this child in his time of greatest need. That was the beginning and end of my relationship with Mr Benschop.
This action by any right-minded person would be deemed deserving of paeans. For it was Guyanese in the diaspora who responded to a hideous human rights violation when called upon. So to have this kind act twisted to fuel the villainous iniquity of those who are clearly out to infuse fear and hatred in Guyanese of a particular political persuasion in this election year by sullying my name and character with this unfounded accusation of funding terrorist activities in Guyana, insults and questions the intelligence of myself and those who banded together to support a victim countryman.
This hideous act is an example of the filth that is encouraged and tolerated to penetrate into the mainstream Guyanese society today with impunity. To go as far as accusing me of wilfully seeking to harm members of the Indian Guyanese population is a personal insult to me and my heritage. I’m the son of an Indian woman and beloved grandson of the last indentured labourers to leave India’s shores. My Indian grandmother whom I love dearly and who is a sympathizer of this government, rebuked the people responsible for this vilification of me when it was brought to her attention. To label me xenophobic is beyond low. I think, therefore I am, and this pestiferous attack on me can only originate from idle and pernicious minds, whose vacuity needs loud condemnation by the Guyanese people.
For it’s dangerous to any society to allow these people to roam our streets unpunished. These actions are divisive and ruinous to our growing democracy.
I call on all Guyanese to reject this hatred and denounce those responsible. I ask that the government distance themselves from this libellous act and seek to prosecute those responsible. I ask Guyanese to be constantly vigilant of the veil that seeks to shield our eyes from the moral decay of our beloved country. I further demand that this defamatory posting be immediately removed from the pages of this blog site and an apology issued to me and those responsible for providing aid to the tortured teen, when no one seemed to have the courage and human decency to aid this child in his darkest hour.
The central tenet for creating a democracy is the freedom of speech without fear of retaliation. I and fellow migrants have become spoiled with this luxury afforded to us by the Constitution of the United States of America, as a First Amendment Right. If I am guilty of any wrongdoing, it’s that I’m a keen observer and vocal critic of this administration that has made a disastrous mockery of Guyana.
To the originator of this defamatory posting, know that all legal actions are being pursued and this malfeasance is being dealt with by my attorney.
Moving forward, I urge my fellow Guyanese, especially those of my political opinion, that Guyana will be a better country when we elect and monitor better leaders, not to be intimidated by these propaganda tactics. Instead of focusing on me and my humanitarian effort, they should focus their energy on Minister Sawh’s death, which is yet unsolved, and bringing those terrorists to justice responsible for that heinous crime. His family and the Guyanese people, at home and in the diaspora, I’m sure would love to bring closure to this human disaster.
We’ve read the rule book of this government and we know their game. If they can get away with doing this to me, anyone is next.
Christopher A Watson