PRESS STATEMENT By The People’s National Congress Reform Friday 23 May 2008 Media Centre, Congress Place, Sophia




SUMMARY:
• The Leadership of the Guyana Police Force must recognise that, the powers, vested in them under the law, were never intended to be used as a tool to deliberately frustrate the exercise of the Constitutional and human rights, of all Guyanese, to engage in legitimate peaceful protest;
• The joint Petition by the Joint Parliamentary Opposition Parties sets out quite clearly the broken promises, made by the PPP/C Administration, over broadcast legislation, the monopoly of radio, the drift towards the suppression of the freedom of expression, poor governance, and the deteriorating security situation;
• The Torture Report has not been published and is fast losing any credibility it might have had;
• The American Government has now revealed that the organisation, headed by Roger Khan, had, not only exported cocaine to that country, but was responsible for the deaths of over two hundred (200) individuals;
• A PNCR Delegation, led by Shadow Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Mrs. Volda Lawrence, MP, met with the Hon. Ms Priya Manickchand, Minister of Human Services and Social Security.

PNCR ASSERTS ITS RIGHT TO CONTINUE PEACEFUL PROTEST:

The PNCR asserts its Constitutional and legal right to continue its programme of peaceful protest activities. It is evident, from the threats issued by Mr. Clement Rohee, that there is a PPP/ Freedom House directed strategy to use every means possible to prevent the justified and legitimate PNCR protests. Therefore, the unfounded allegations, that marches, held by the Party, were violent and that many innocent citizens were driven to panic, are all part of the PPP directed propaganda to discredit the PNCR. However, the Party will not be deterred or daunted by the PPP misinformation campaign. We are sure that the Guyanese public is also not deceived by the PPP campaign.

The Party reiterates its position that all of its marches, including that held on 8 May 2008, were orderly and received written Police permission, though belatedly. In that context, the Party views very seriously the statement, attributed to the Commissioner of Police (Ag), as reported in the Stabroek News of 21 May 2008, that the PNCR would not be granted further permission for marches if disorder continues during its protest actions. Where was the disorder Commissioner (Ag) Greene is alluding to? It does appear that the Police and the PPP are seeking excuses to prevent the legitimate PNCR protest marches.

The Leadership of the Guyana Police Force must recognise that, the powers, vested in them under the law, were never intended to be used as a tool to deliberately frustrate the exercise of the Constitutional and human rights, of all Guyanese, to engage in legitimate peaceful protest. The misuse of these powers, whether under political direction or not, leaves the police exposed to the accusation of being dictatorial and repressive.

It has been confirmed that some barriers were removed, during the march, on the 8th May 2008. However, this only occurred because the police imprudently sought to prevent the protesters from peacefully demonstrating in front of the Parliament Building. In every functioning democracy, peaceful protests, by citizens who have reasons to do so, are allowed to be conducted outside of the Parliament. What could be the reason for not allowing peaceful protests outside of the Guyana Parliament?

What the public needs to understand is that, since the Police has come under political control, identified elements within the Force have been resorting to tactics calculated to disrupt the marches and rallies of the PNCR or, to cause a confrontation between the Party and the Police. The Party has complained about the Police practice of giving very late notice of the unjustified changes to the route it has applied for to achieve the objectives of the Protest March. It could only be construed that such changes and the deliberate method of late communication are part of the PPP directed political strategy to frustrate the protests.

JOINT PARLIAMENTARY OPPOSITION PARTIES LAUNCH PETITION TO CARICOM HEADS:

The PNCR, in conjunction with the other Parliamentary Opposition Parties, launched a Petition, on Wednesday 21 May 2008, at the Parliament Building. The Petition would be circulated in all of the 10 Regions of Guyana, to give all citizens the opportunity to signify their agreement by signing same.

The Petition follows the letter which was submitted to the Chairman of CARICOM, on 15 April 2008. That letter sets out the concerns of the PNCR about the conditions and the environment in which the PPP/C Administration proposes to host CARIFESTA X.

The Petition amplifies and restates these concerns. It sets out quite clearly the broken promises, made by the PPP/C Administration, over broadcast legislation, the monopoly of radio, the drift towards the suppression of the freedom of expression, poor governance, and the deteriorating security situation.

TORTURE REPORT LOSING CREDIBILITY:

More than forty four (44) days ago the Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon, promised that the report on the investigations into the alleged torture, by elements of the Guyana Defence Force, would be made public. Not surprisingly, Dr. Luncheon’s promise has remained an empty promise.

The Torture Report has not been published and is fast losing any credibility it might have had.

It is clear, to the PNCR and all right thinking Guyanese, that the Report is being doctored and sanitized to cover up the fact that Patrick Sumner and Victor Jones were tortured by officers of the GDF.

In the meantime, the Police are yet to complete their investigation into the torturing of David Zammett. The Minister of Home Affairs had also promised that there would be an investigation into this matter.

The PNCR stands by its original position that only an independent investigation into the acts of torture by the Disciplined Forces will satisfy the requirements of justice and remove questions about the integrity of the GDF and the Police Force.

PPP/C MUST COME CLEAN ABOUT ROGER KHAN:

The findings, in the trial of Roger Khan, have again dramatised the fact that the PPP/C Administration could not have been unaware of his extensive narco related activities.

The American Government has now revealed that the organisation, headed by Roger Khan, had, not only exported cocaine to that country, but was responsible for the deaths of over two hundred (200) individuals. It was, as a result of these findings that the Leader of the PNCR, Mr. Robert Corbin, has again called for an independent inquiry into the death squads in Guyana.

The response of the PPP has been to deny all knowledge of Roger Khan and his activities. The evidence, however, points in the opposite direction.

When Roger Khan was arrested in Suriname, in 2006, the Suriname Minister of Justice and Police, Chanrikapersad Santokhi, revealed that Suriname had exchanged information about Roger Khan with the Government of Guyana.

The Party wishes to quote Roger Khan himself, before he became a custodian of the penal system of the United States: “During the crime spree in 2002 I worked closely with the crime-fighting sections of the Guyana Police Force and provided them with assistance and information at my own expense. My participation was instrumental in curbing crime during this period”. Any normal person would ask how it is possible for an individual to carry out major activities with the Police force of a country and the government not know that this was taking place.

Indeed, when Roger Khan was arrested, at Good Hope in 2002, one of the men who were arrested along with him was a serving policeman. The computer which was in the possession of Roger Khan, at that time, was one which could only be purchased by a Government. The evidence is clear that, not only did the Jagdeo Administration know of Roger Khan, but also aided and abetted his nefarious activities.

MEETING OF PNCR DELEGATION WITH MINISTER PRIYA MANICKCHAND:

A PNCR Delegation, led by Shadow Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Mrs. Volda Lawrence, MP, met with the Hon. Ms Priya Manickchand, Minister of Human Services and Social Security, on Friday 16 May 2008.

The Delegation offered some positive suggestions, which could be implemented immediately, to give relief from the crushing economic and social conditions, due to the continuing increases in food prices and the impact of the unconscionable 16% VAT, being experienced by citizens, particularly the most vulnerable groups, such as senior citizens and single parent families, while the government determines its strategies for the long-term.

The Delegation presented a letter, dated 16 May 2008, to the Minister which included the following suggestions:

• A morning snack, for school children, consisting of High Energy biscuits with milk/porridge or juice. This it is felt will help those children who have had no morning meal. This would also encourage their attendance at school and increase their ability to learn.

• Provide Vouchers for Day Care Service, especially single parents. This would assist parents with many children; help single parents to seek gainful employment; and help the older children, who often have to be the baby sitters, to be able to attend in school.

• Provide a Voucher for basic Food Items to the elderly and single parents with four (4) or more children.

The Delegation included Messrs Amna Ally, M.P., Cheryl Sampson, Chairman, NCW, Genevieve Allen, National Secretary, NCW, and Joan Baveghems, Executive Member, NCW.

Mrs. Lawrence reminded the Minister of questions posed, in her letter, of 29 April 2008, which sought clarification/ information on the mechanisms envisaged for the follow up to the distribution and return of the Single Parent Registration Forms. The Questions were as follows:

(a) Is there a Committee which will be in place to evaluate the applications?
(b) Will there be several committees, for example, one for each Region?
(c) What are the criteria for selection?
(d) Are there several categories for assistance? Will the number of children be considered, eg, 1-2; 3-4; 5-6; etc.?
(e) What is likely to be the amount given?
(f) What is the life cycle for this assistance?
(g) When will the disbursement begin?
(h) How will applicants know their status?

The PNCR delegation pointed out to the Minister that she needs to recognise and appreciate that the public perception is that the completion and submission of the Single Parent Registration Forms would be immediately followed by some direct financial and other benefits.

The Minister claimed that the call for persons to complete and submit the Single Parent Registration Forms was part of a data gathering process and that Cabinet had not yet decided on the details for any follow up programme thereafter.

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana
Friday 23 May 2008