PRESS STATEMENT By People’s National Congress Reform Friday 16 May, 2008 Media Centre, Congress Place, Sophia




SUMMARY:
• The PNCR has been careful to inform the nation that it would engage in the exercise of peaceful picketing, rallies and demonstrations to draw attention to the fact that the environment, where severe problems are being experienced because of the escalation of cost of living and other manifest injustices, is not conducive to host Carifesta X;
• The Party will not allow Guyanese to be denied their constitutional rights by the Jagdeo regime and will continue to forcefully demand that measures are put in place to bring some relief to them;
• The Leader of the Opposition dispatched a letter to the Commissioner of the Police indicating that he was holding the Guyana Police Force (GPF) and the Commissioner responsible for the safety and welfare of Mr. Cyrus Boyce;
• The PNCR had dispatched a letter on the 15th May, 2008 to the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China expressing condolences to the Government and People of that country over the massive earthquake which caused the death of thousands of Chinese Citizens in the Province of Sichuan.

COST OF LIVING MARCH:

This Press Conference is being held against the background of the Jagdeo regime’s rapid descent into dictatorship and the People’s National Congress Reform’s desire to represent the people of Guyana and to resist the ever increasing movement in this direction.

The Party has already publicized the fact that the chauffeur of the Leader of the Opposition was arrested on Wednesday 14th May 2008, for announcing a PNCR march and thrown into a cell at Brickdam Police Station until he was bailed by his lawyer.

This was followed by the surrounding and search of the home of the personal security detail of Mr. Robert H. O. Corbin on Thursday 15th May, 2008 by mostly ranks of the GDF and his subsequent arrest, allegedly for robbery under arms.

All of this has happened while malicious and unfounded allegations have been made against the Party by the leading spokesman of the Jagdeo regime, Roger Luncheon, and the President himself about the misappropriation of funds allocated to PNCR scrutineers and the alleged association of the PNCR with criminals. It is clear that there is a systematic and centrally directed plan to harass the PNCR and its Leader. The PNCR is convinced that the objective is to instill fear and use the police and military in a repressive way. The PNCR calls on the Police and GDF to operate professionally and to resist any directions that are unconstitutional and illegal.

Yesterday, the 15th May, 2008, saw the further unfolding and the maturing of the plan to deny the people of Guyana their political, constitutional and human rights to demonstrate peacefully. The Jagdeo regime in its reckless pursuit of such a plan has become prone to the commission of acts of irresponsibility. These acts have grave implications for the stability of this country at a time when political and other tensions have clearly enveloped the society.

The PNCR has been careful to inform the nation that it would engage in the exercise of peaceful picketing, rallies and demonstrations to draw attention to the fact that the environment, where severe problems are being experienced because of the escalation of cost of living and other manifest injustices, is not conducive to host Carifesta X. If the government is serious, then those problems must be addressed urgently.

The Party has already successfully held three demonstrations which were incident free and peaceful. However, it is clear that the Jagdeo administration has become alarmed and rattled by their success and embarked on the aforesaid plan to derail the legitimate actions of the people.

THE PNCR COMPILED WITH ALL LEGAL REQUIREMENTS:

The PNCR applied on Saturday 10th May, 2008, to host a series of rallies and marches in the city during the week Monday 12th to Friday 16th May. The response of the Police to these requests began to assume an ominous pattern, contrary to the usual practice. The practice has been for the Police to give oral permission for the PNCR to promote its public activities once the application is made within the specified time. This is normally followed by written permission or refusal which would either come literally minutes before the scheduled start of the event or minutes after it has begun.

Consequently, unless the Police orally signal their intention to send a negative response, the PNCR has always promoted its activities before formal approval is sent. This Police never objected to this practice.

The request for the March and rally scheduled for 12:30 pm, yesterday, May 15th, 2008, was therefore made since May 10th. It was not until 12:45 hrs yesterday that a letter denying permission was received at Congress Place when most of the leaders had already left for the proposed march. It is significant that a few minutes before that the arrival of this letter a notice was being scrolled on NCN, informing the public that the Police had denied permission and warning citizens not to participate.

In these circumstances, the Party firmly believes that the leadership of the Party exercised a great sense of responsibility and maturity of judgment. With the participants already assembled, the Leader of the PNCR and other members of the leadership patiently explained that the Police had refused permission. Persons were then encouraged to walk peacefully home as did the Leader of the Opposition to his Chambers. It is regrettable that in those circumstances, the Police sought to place obstacles before those persons who were walking to their various car and bus parks to get home. The Party still, however, compliments the Police for their exercise of restraint in difficult circumstances.

The Party will not allow Guyanese to be denied their constitutional rights by the Jagdeo regime and will continue to forcefully demand that measures are put in place to bring some relief to them.

The PNCR demands that the Jagdeo regime presents a comprehensive emergency economic programme, based on the inputs of all relevant stakeholders. The Party is confident that such a programme would help Guyana and its people to navigate this particular economic crisis and bring some measure of relief to our hard pressed citizens.

This afternoon a delegation of women of the Party led by PNCR Vice Chairman, Mrs Volda Lawrence, MP met with Minister of Human Services, Priya Manickchand to present sensible proposals that could contribute to the relief of many Guyanese including, senior citizens. The delegation wanted to have the specifics on the well-publicized assistance to be given to single parents. It is hoped that the proposals made by the PNCR delegation to the Minister would be taken seriously on board by the Jagdeo Administration. The PNCR sees the pursuit of these objectives as an obligation and will persist with them in the face of the repressive tactics being employed by the Administration.

ACCOUNTABILITY OF COMMISSIONER OF POLICE FOR WELFARE OF PRISONERS:

Today, May 16th 2008, the Leader of the Opposition dispatched a letter to the Commissioner of the Police indicating that he was holding the Guyana Police Force (GPF) and the Commissioner responsible for the safety and welfare of Mr. Cyrus Boyce.

This concern was expressed after information became available that Mr. Boyce was being interrogated by ranks of the Guyana Defence Force about matters concerning the PNCR rather than the offence that he is alleged to have committed and for which he was arrested since 2 am on Thursday May 15th, 2008.

This concern arises because of the credible evidence of torture by ranks of the GDF, during which they are alleged to have drugged and beaten persons being interrogated.

The letter is attached for information.

PNCR SENDS CONDOLENCES TO THE PEOPLE OF CHINA:

The PNCR had dispatched a letter on the 15th May, 2008 to the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China expressing condolences to the Government and People of that country over the massive earthquake which caused the death of thousands of Chinese Citizens in the Province of Sichuan.

In the letter signed by the Leader, the Party expressed confidence that the resilience of the Chinese people, the institutional capacity of its government and the resources now available to it, will ensure that China recovers from this tragedy and prepare the way for a period of national healing

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia
Georgetown, Guyana.
Friday 16 May 2008