When will the proposed investigation commence?

Dear Editor,

President David Granger on Thursday announced at the GDF Officer’s conference that extrajudicial killings, phantom death squad murders and other targeted killings as well as torture that occurred in Guyana from 2001 to 2009 under the previous administration, will be investigated and the perpetrators will be brought to justice. The President made this promise to ensure that justice is done, a pillar of his 2015 election campaign. Today, two years later we have another mere promise, with no action.

There were many such killings. I fought against these killings on the international stage, including at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR)and the United Nations. As head of the Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID), the overseas organization that waged the relentless fight for justice for victims and their families in the international community, I wrote the President twice since 2015, petitioning him to commission such an inquiry. On December 2, 2016, Kaieteur News published a letter from me captioned ‘Quoting Martin Luther King in the call for justice in Guyana,’ in which I called on the President to appoint a Commission of Inquiry with subpoena powers, to investigate these murders and other international crimes, to no avail.  It makes me wonder who is this government protecting?

My relentless advocacy for justice has been on behalf of the victims and their families, and the thousands of young people whose hunger for justice fuelled their political support for President Granger and the coalition, which ultimately led to their election victory. They marched, protested, were beaten, arrested and jailed by the then regime, now only to be given mere promises of justice by the Head of State. The President’s announcement is a baby step in the right decision, but the betrayal and disappointment is palpable. All of us, particularly our youth, must hold the President and government’s feet to the fire and make them accountable for this betrayal of those whose votes placed them in office.

This fight is personal for me. I have endured death threats and multiple NYPD security assessments. The then government sent GDF intelligence officers all the way to New York to attend CGID meetings and conduct surveillance on CGID officers. Our counterparts in Guyana were infiltrated and harassed. One person sent me a letter which was turned over to the FBI threatening that he has his gun ready and waiting for me at the Cheddi Jagan Airport. Although no threat can weaken my resolve and determination to seek justice, we did not endure all of this for a mere promise, and must continue this fight until the justice we seek is obtained.  There has been a fundamental reluctance on the part of this government which professes to desire justice for the victims, to cooperate with IACHR to seek justice for Mr Frantz Britton one of the many disappeared.

My question to President Granger, therefore, is when will this proposed investigation commence? Is it going to commence when the architects, planners, financiers and executioners escape or exit the country, as some have already done?

Yours faithfully,

Rickford Burke


Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy

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