In a previous letter, ‘Racial constructs are man-made’ (SN, April 1), I wrote this: “Politicians do not come right out and tell us to hate our fellow Guyanese; they imply things, they use innuendo and manipulative rhetoric; they try to make us afraid of others.”
Today I take no pleasure in observing that some politicians and their supporters are doing just that. On April 5 and 6, the Guyana Times and the Chronicle published reports containing remarks made by Presidential Advisor on Youth Empowerment Odinga Lamumba, during his budget presentation in parliament. In his presentation, the PPP/C MP said: “Any attempt to starve GuySuCo could be interpreted as ethnic cleansing.”
Editor, I do not need to explore how inflammatory this statement is in Guyana’s context; I need not even mention that the racially loaded term, ‘ethnic cleansing’ is most often associated with genocidal violence; those truths are self-evident. What I will say is, Guyanese, particularly young persons, should judge for themselves the significance and intent of such statements. Also, who uttered them. Guyanese should also note that the Leader of the Opposition immediately took issue with Mr Lumumba’s statement and condemned it in no uncertain terms.
On April 6, the Guyana Times, reportedly owned by Dr Ranjisingi ‘Bobby’ Ramroop, friend of Mr Bharrat Jagdeo, published a letter entitled, ‘DNA of bullyism and dictatorship.’ In that same edition of the same newspaper, well-known PPP/C supporter Harry Gill referred to the APNU as a band of hooligans. These inflammatory words were used in relation to APNU’s protests at Minister Manickchand’s heckling during Ms Volda Lawrence’s presentation against rape.
Editor, these references to DNA, bullyism and hooliganism and the inherent, violent undertones are obviously appeals to ethnic sentiments; they cannot be construed any other way. Surely, the editors at the Guyana Times and PPP/C writers, can support Minister Manickchand without inciting racial division.
As a smart people, we must look at who is making such statements, opposition politicians or PPP/C officials. Which media houses are apparently promoting such views: is it the independent newspapers, the opposition media or are such messages being peddled by media houses associated with the PPP/C? We should also note the actions of various supporters: are APNU’s writers promoting racial division or are they condemning such? On the other hand, are PPP/C letter writers, editors and bloggers appealing to race? When we look at the facts, the conclusion becomes obvious: the PPP/C, being unable to argue facts or support their positions with real data, are appealing to race in a desperate attempt to hold a support base by driving fear into the minds of the masses. As Guyanese, we must recognise such attempts by the PPP/C to manipulate our minds and soundly reject them.
Of course, the PPP/C want to distract Guyanese from the facts; they want us to ignore the mismanagement of GuySuCo; they want us to forget about Minister Manickchand’s reprehensible conduct in parliament. But inciting division in a self-serving quest to hold power, is not the way to do it. Guyanese must not tolerate such manipulation.
Editor, on the subject of Minister Manickchand. I saw on Facebook a lengthy note written by the Minister in defence of her conduct in parliament. The Minister said that she was outraged by rape and abuse, so she heckled Ms Volda Lawrence. But, thinking for myself, this seems to make no sense. Since Ms Volda Lawrence was denouncing rape and abuse, and Minister Manickchand claims to be outraged by rape, shouldn’t Minister Manickchand have been cheering Ms Lawrence, instead of heckling?