Burnham did not shy away from giving open support to the movement to end apartheid in South Africa

Dear Editor,

Permit me to make a few comments on Mr Dennis Wiggins’ letter  ‘The actions of heads of state should be viewed in their totality not in isolation’ (SN, May 8). My concern with this letter is its dishonesty which is destroying this beautiful country. Mr Wiggins is saying the totality of a person should be judged when dealing with a specific issue.  I would like to say to Mr Wiggins that he must not only to blame Mr Burnham for Dr Walter Rodney’s death, but call on the PPP administration to begin the independent commission of inquiry the parliament in 2005 voted for including the PNC.

Editor, I would want to put on public record that I think those accusing Mr Burnham of Dr Rodney’s death do not want an enquiry for fear of what it would reveal and what they will have to say under oath of their role in the politics of the 1970s and 1980s. The PNC is being accused of Dr Rodney’s death, but it was the PNC that hired overseas experts to examine how he met his death, and had an inquest. The government of the PNC did all this and the WPA condemned them all. When WPA Member of Parliament Ms Sheila Holder brought this motion to Parliament to have an independent inquiry into Dr Rodney’s death it was supported by the PNC MPs.

It was Dr Rodney’s son, Shaka, who held a one man protest in front of State House during Dr Cheddi Jagan’s government calling for an inquiry into his father’s death. I noticed how proud Mr Wiggins feels about the support Dr Rodney has around the world and in South Africa, and his satisfaction that the award to Mr Burnham is deferred. I would like to advise Mr Wiggins not to waste support and encourage these “progressives” to mount a campaign and call on the Government of Guyana to conduct an independent inquiry into Dr Rodney’s death. Editor, I have been in politics too long not to know when people are serious, bluffing or piggy-backing on a situation for their own interest. The truth always prevails, but I am not sure if Dr Rodney’s supporters want the truth made public. Let us wait and see if a campaign will start and not stop until an independent commission is appointed to enquire into Dr Rodney’s death.

Mr Wiggins’ reference to some effort to see if former president Mr Bharrat Jagdeo is deserving of his doctorate is not the same as looking at whether Mr Burnham is deserving of the O R Tambo Award. The Tambo award has specific criteria for a nominee to qualify, and under these criteria Mr Burnham qualified. I have seen Mr Jagdeo being given a doctorate for his contributions to social justice and the environment. You only have to follow Mr Jagdeo’s libel suit against Mr Freddie Kissoon, Kaieteur News and Mr Adam Harris and look at the environment in Georgetown and around Guyana to know if he qualifies. Mr Burnham stood in solidarity with South Africa and lent support in many ways. This cannot be disputed and this is what the award is about. It’s a shame that Mr Wiggins is not able to recognise or admit the difference.

Editor, Mr Burnham’s contributions to South Africa may not be known among the people he calls “progressives.” But the leaders of the freedom fighters in South Africa, including the late Mr Tambo, knew about the support they received from Mr Burnham and some of it can also be found in the Hansards in the National Assembly.  Award or not Mr Burnham contributed to helping end apartheid in South Africa. When other Caribbean leaders were afraid, Mr Burnham did not shy away from giving open support and boycotting activities when South Africa participated. Let the truth prevail.

Yours faithfully,
B Beniprashad Rayman
Former MP and Member
of the PNCR CEC

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