THE ARREST OF LEWIS, WITTER AND BENSCHOP--PRESS RELEASE Thursday July 16, 2009




The People’s National Congress Reform unreservedly condemns the arrest and charging of Secretary of the Caribbean Congress of Labour, Mr. Lincoln Lewis, Acting General Secretary of the Guyana Trades Union Congress, Mr. Norris Witter, and Journalist, Mr. Mark Benschop, while they were exercising their constitutional right to engage in peaceful protests.

Based on the facts and evidence available to the PNCR these Guyanese citizens have not engaged in any activity in violation of any of the laws of Guyana. The violation of their fundamental rights is, therefore, a further and troubling indication that the Jagdeo Administration is prepared to use sections of the Guyana Police Force as a coercive and intimidating arm of the state to silence dissent and peaceful protest actions against its many short comings.

The PNCR has not missed the symbolic significance of this attack upon these high profile Guyanese. However, it is clear that the Jagdeo Administration wants to send a message to the Guyana Trades Union Congress that it intends to stamp out any dissent by them as they lay bare their determination to destroy that organisation and replace it with the pro-PPP Federation of Independent Trade Unions (FITUG).

The Party also recognises that the Jagdeo Administration has identified Mark Benschop for “roughing up” because he has clearly not learnt “his lesson” and continues to excoriate the Jagdeo Administration for driving this nation into the ground.

The PNCR lauds the activities of all Guyanese who have joined the increasing numbers prepared to actively protest against the lawlessness, abuse of rights, the sanctioning of narco activities, and other forms of poor governance, by the Jagdeo Administration.

The Party salutes them for their personal courage in standing up to the Jagdeo Administration despite the use of tactics of intimidation, including their incarceration under the deplorable condition found at the Brickdam lockups.

It is evident that sections of the Guyana Police Force seem to be convinced that they have the authority to act with impunity in violation of their rights of Guyanese citizens, while ignoring the rule of law. The PNCR, and indeed the rest of Guyana, holds the Jagdeo Administration accountable for the safety and well being of Messrs Lincoln Lewis, Norris Witter and Mark Benschop, who have now been released from the Brickdam lockups.

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana
Thursday July 16, 2009