In 2009 we were appalled by the use of fire to inflict pain and suffering on a Guyanese child at a police station. The photograph of this horrific abuse was sent to me; it invoked shock, disbelief and revulsion. This picture has since appeared several times in the local media and the effects are always the same – including anger and rage. The cruelties associated with medieval torture chambers were recalled. Fire was always a powerful tool to terrify an enemy.
Even though over the recent years others and I have been writing of the past excesses and abuses of the former Burnham Govt and then the Jagdeo regime, these particular gross human rights violations of a child went beyond our wildest nightmares. This disturbing image is the worst that I have seen coming out from recent Guyana. This country in now further discredited with the willful burning of a 14-year old child under interrogation without a parent, guardian, teacher or adult to represent him. This shocking republished image (22nd March 2012) in the Kaieteur News is now associated with President Jagdeo’s PPP Govt, and all the politicians and officials who served and are intimately associated with his unprincipled PPP Govt are likewise tarnished. Attorney General Mr. A. Nandlall’s statements and actions, as reported in the press, are not only condescending, degrading and inhumane, but further victimize the family of the boy and show a callous disregard for any human empathy.
Under Burnham’s PNC regime school girls who were engaged in a peaceful protest against the Govt were flogged (beaten with belts) and manhandled by the police. Jagdeo’s PPP Govt not to be outdone, went further and burnt a child in police custody. In both cases the accused violators were police officers (sworn protectors of the people); and in both cases these men went unpunished. In both cases their political superiors did not allow justice to prevail against the acts of these police enforcers. The breakers of their oaths ‘to serve and protect the people’ were not disciplined.
What we would like to know is the following: How come a police station was being used as a medieval torture chamber? These officers must have known that no one would stop them and were certain that their superiors would support them afterwards. They must have also known that whatever they did, no matter how horrific, illegal and beyond inhumane, they would get away with their misdeeds. Why attack his genitals, is this some kind of sick perversion?
Can we not picture the fear in the eyes of the boy and the trembling of his body as he was subjected to this agony by adults who have sworn to protect him and his rights under the law? The boy’s nightmare would be lived and re-lived over and over again and again. It will be triggered by many things – fire, police, smell, sound etc. How does one shed and live with this burden? He needs expert medical help and counseling.
We are still waiting to hear condemnations from the PPP Govt-associated international human rights workers and professors. We wonder how they can ply their trade and remain silent about such blatant abuse of the human rights of a child in their own home country. The silence of our NY based self-proclaimed ‘freedom fighters’ is deafening.
How can we remain silent about these gross violations of the body, mind and psyche of a child? How can we welcome such ‘condoners of evils’ in our communities? How would we feel if the terror inflicted on the boy descended on one of our own children? If we are silent, then we are just as guilty and tell the world that we tolerate the torture of children.
This matter should be raised in Parliament. We thank Mr. K. Ramjattan for standing up for the rights of this unfortunate child. We should stand with Mr. Ramjattan as he seeks some compensation for these two victims and demand an impartial investigation into this whole affair. In a genuine democracy justice is not only the privilege of the wealthy and powerful. We should stand together for these unfortunate victims of terror; otherwise, we lose our own humanity and the respect of our own children.
Seelochan Beharry Ph.D.