PRESS RELEASE THE JOINT FORCES EXERCISE IN BUXTON ON MONDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2005 People’s National Congress Reform Congress Place, Sophia, Georgetown, Guyana Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The PNCR restates unequivocally its condemnation of all forms of crime and criminal activities whether perpetrated by criminal elements of Buxton or any other village or ward in Guyana . The Party also reaffirms our unequivocal support for the Guyana Police Force and the Guyana Defence Force as it seeks to confront crime wherever it occurs thereby making Guyana a safer place for all Guyanese.

The PNCR however wishes to make it absolutely clear that our continued support for the Guyana Police Force and the Guyana Defence Force has never and will never extend to a blanket approval of activities that are outside of the law or not in the best interest of reducing crime and enhancing the security of all Guyanese. This has been and will continue to be our position. Distortions of our principled position by the government, the PPP/C and some sections of civil society will not detract us or change our principled position.

Having assessed what took place in Buxton yesterday morning, the PNCR has no other option than to conclude that “operation stiletto” was unsuccessful and may well have done irreparable harm to the formation of a working relationship between the Joint Forces and the residents of Buxton, a relationship that is a sine quo non to the rooting out of the criminal elements in that village.

We enumerate for easy reference some of the results of “operation stiletto” and urge all Guyanese to make an informed and unemotional assessment of this operation.

1. Over 350 houses in south and central Buxton were searched by the Joint Services.
2. At least 112 Afro Guyanese male residents between the ages of 16 to 46 were arrested, herded into vehicles and taken to the Guyana Police Force Sports Club in Barrack Road to be “processed”.
3. These arrested persons have suffered the dehumanizing treatment of being rounded up, herded into vehicles, photographed with numbers across their chests as criminals and kept in police custody based solely on their place of residence. [The police need to explain what use will be made of these mug shots, especially when one remembers the evidence given at the Thomas Carroll us visa scam trial which revealed that such mug shots were misused to settle personal vendettas]
4. No guns or ammunition were found in the over 350 houses searched or on the 112 residents arrested.
5. Women including a pregnant woman were arrested their numbers are still to be ascertained.
6. At the time of the writing of this statement many mothers and wives could not ascertain the location of many of their arrested relatives. In some cases where they identified the Police Station at which their relatives were held, they were denied the opportunity of providing food or change of clothing for those arrested. It should be noted that some young men were arrested partially dressed as they were performing their normal morning domestic chores in their homes.

The PNCR has confirmed that among the persons arrested are teachers, GUYSUCO workers, young men on a special project to improve the community and self employed persons including a taxi driver. In view of the foregoing it is clear that “operation stiletto” has only further alienated the security forces from the residents of Buxton and has deepened the distrust of the majority of Buxtonians towards the Armed Forces.

This latest operation by the Joint Forces poses serious questions as to the constitutionality of such actions in the absence of a declared state of emergency and could set a very dangerous precedent for all law abiding citizens in Guyana . The PNCR therefore calls on the Commissioner of Police who had said that he should be held accountable, to adequately account to the nation for this most recent Joint Forces operation. Meanwhile, the PNCR reaffirms its commitment to work with all stakeholders and support measures designed to address the crime and security situation in Guyana .

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana
Tuesday, October 25, 2005