I didn’t know Courtney Crum-Ewing and I had never heard of him before his almost 3-month protest in front of the office of the Attorney General. A few weeks ago, he sent me a private message on social media asking, “Ruel I need your opinion. Where did I go wrong during my 85 days outside chambers? ??” I gave my frank assessment that while his energy was commendable, he perhaps failed to implement a complementary media strategy to educate an apathetic public about what the core issue was. After a brief discussion, the conversation ended with us recommitting to changing what was wrong about Guyana.
Earlier this week, I publicized on Facebook a racist inbox message sent to me, and Courtney commented jokingly that we needed to compare hate mail. The next day, I received a message that he had been shot dead.
I read Brigadier-General (rtd) Joe Singh’s reasoned intervention in which he urges both condemnation of Courtney’s murder and restraint from using it for partisan political mileage. When I started this letter, 36 hours after Courtney Crum-Ewing was cornered and shot down while urging people to vote, there was no statement from the PPP except the politically slanted and ludicrous press release issued by Clement Rohee’s Ministry of Home Affairs. Every single member of government active on social media was silent. There was not a single word of condemnation from anyone, including Priya Manickchand, Ashni Singh, Nigel Dharamlall, Carolyn Rodrigues, Frank Anthony, Elisabeth Harper, Leslie Ramsammy and most importantly, Anil Nandlall. Guyana Times and Chronicle dedicated
minimal space to the story and state broadcaster NCN did not even touch it. What this indicates is that there is a deliberately constructed wall of silence on this murder.
In contrast, and to its credit, the APNU+AFC condemned the murder, contextualized it within the overall impoverished citizen security environment and the divisive rancour at Babu John, and called for an impartial investigation. Moreover, a fund has been set up to benefit Courtney’s three daughters.
There will inevitably be a great deal of speculation on what Courtney Crum-Ewing was killed for, and I find it insulting that persons are urging people not to make logical connections between his murder and his dissident action. Courtney Crum-Ewing suffered theft in full view of the police, he suffered threats, he suffered vandalism of his personal property, and he suffered police detention under spurious charges, all linked to his dissident action. Making a connection is basic logic.
I agree with Brigadier Joe Singh when he says that, “It is to be hoped that political leaders on their campaign trails will deal objectively and circumspectly with young Crum-Ewing’s death and those other traumatic events that occurred in Guyana’s recent history from the 1960s to date, and they will not seek to exacerbate tensions by ‘milking’ these for perceived political mileage.”
Perhaps he can use his influence to inform President Donald Ramotar that the Guyana Chronicle, which comes under Ramotar’s responsibility as Minister of Information, has been engaged in a months-long orgy of exploitation of the Walter Rodney Inquiry, one that has been anything but objective or circumspect.
In the final analysis, what is important to remember is what Courtney Crum-Ewing lived for, and what has been increasingly missing from Guyana – accountability in public office, respect for freedom of expression, and a respect for human life.
He possessed the outrage that this entire society failed to muster in the wake of the recorded telephone conversation the Attorney-General of this country had with a reporter of Kaieteur News, and still being kept on the job. I am calling on every individual member of cabinet, and the People’s Progressive Party to possess the basic human decency to condemn this man’s killing, to offer condolences to his family, and to commit themselves to supporting freedom of expression as a basic pillar of democracy.
This government has control of the agencies responsible for citizen security in this country, and considering that police officers were on the scene within minutes of Courtney Crum-Ewing’s murder, one would presume that they have a good start in bringing the killers to justice, unlike the cases of Ronald Waddell, George Bacchus, Shafeek Bacchus, Alicia Foster, Levoy Taljit, Mohammed Khan, Trevor Rose, and hundreds of others whose families continue to be denied justice under this government.