PRESS STATEMENT BY PEOPLE’S NATIONAL CONGRESS REFORM MEDIA CENTRE, SOPHIA THURSDAY JULY 17th 2008




SUMMARY:
• In adding its voice to the condemnation of the murder of Edwin Niles, the PNCR calls for an immediate and thorough independent investigation into his death;
• The author of the banning of Mr. Gordon Moseley, President Bharat Jagdeo, is faithful to the PPP tradition of stomping on the rights of Journalists who speak inconvenient truths;
• The continued harassment of Mr. Oliver Hinckson is the best indication yet that the charges laid against him are political and are intended to silence him;
• The Jagdeo PPP/C Administration has a moral duty to take measures to bring diseases, such as the influenza outbreak, dengue and tuberculosis, under urgent control;
• The Parliamentary Opposition Parties have received a formal acknowledgement of receipt of the Petition submitted to CARICOM from its Secretary General, Mr. Edwin Carrington;
• The deliberate frustration of the implementation of the approved micro-projects by the Jagdeo Administration is another example of the blatant political discrimination practiced by the regime.


THE PNCR CONDEMNS THE MURDER OF EDWIN NILES: OPPOSITION LEADER CALLS ON COMMISSIONER TO ACCOUNT:

The PNCR condemns, in the strongest possible terms, the murder of Edwin Niles by the Prison authorities. The PNCR joins all those decent and right thinking Guyanese and Political Parties, which have justly condemned this crime.

In adding its voice to the condemnation of the murder of Edwin Niles, the PNCR calls for an immediate and thorough independent investigation into his death. In any event, the Guyana Police Force has the legal obligation to investigate all crimes in the jurisdiction and must be held accountable for such a criminal investigation pending any other decision on the murder. In this regard, the Leader of the Opposition has written the Commissioner of Police expressing grave concern over the torture and murder of Edwin Niles while being an inmate in the Georgetown Prison and enquiring what steps have been taken by the Police force to investigate this matter.

In his letter, Mr. Corbin provided the Commissioner of Police with the information that was available to him both from the mother of Mr. Niles and from independent sources. In conclusion, he stated,

“It is clear from the above that, at worst, Mr. Niles’ death must be treated as murder while in custody of the Prison Authorities and, at best, death under mysterious circumstances, which require investigation. I am, therefore, calling upon you, as the Constitutional Holder of the Office of Commissioner of Police (ag), to account for your stewardship in this matter that has grave implications for the fundamental rights of citizens as guaranteed under the Constitution of Guyana.”

The PNCR will be pursuing this matter further. A copy of the letter to the Commissioner of Police will be released to the media.

The murder of Mr. Niles, by the Prison authorities, is the latest evidence that the Jagdeo PPP/C regime has nurtured an out-of-control environment in which its minions in authority feel uninhibited in perpetrating acts which: trample on the human rights of the Guyanese people; flagrantly violate the protection afforded by the Constitution of Guyana; and contravene Guyana’s Treaty obligations, under the International Conventions which expressly forbid the torture of citizens.

The attitude, of the Authorities, is not only inconsistent with the creation of a democratic culture, but also undermines the rule of law and respect for the rights of our citizens. The PNCR is of the view that the behaviour of cohorts of the Jagdeo PPP regime signals a belief that they can undermine the fundamental human rights of citizens, break the laws and violate the Constitution with impunity. However, this only serves to strengthen those forces, which make for lawlessness and anarchy. In the final result, such an attitude makes the Jagdeo PPP/C regime the leading scofflaw of the nation.

The beating to death of Edwin Niles is consistent with the pattern, by sections the security forces, to torture individuals, in the belief that such action is sanctioned and condoned by the Jagdeo Administration and the PPP/C political directorate.

In this regard, the PNCR recalls the brutal torture of Victor Jones and Patrick Sumner, by officers of the Guyana Defence Force, and David Zammett, by ranks of the Guyana Police Force.

The Report on torture, by the GDF, though long promised, is yet to see the light of day, as the Jagdeo PPP/C regime seeks, by devious devices and manoeuvres, to protect its favourites from facing the full rigour of the law.

In the case of torture, by the Guyana Police Force, promises have also been made, but there is no visible evidence that any efforts are being made to undertake such an investigation.

THE BANNING OF GORDON MOSELEY FROM ATTENDING EVENTS AT THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT AND STATE HOUSE IS YET ANOTHER ASSAULT ON MEDIA FREEDOM:

The relentless assault on the freedom of the Press, by the Jagdeo PPP/C regime, continues unabated, with the recent banning of the widely respected Journalist of Capitol News, Mr. Gordon Moseley.

Coming, as this development does, almost on the heels of the withdrawal of advertisements, by Governmental institutions, from the Stabroek News, in order to attempt to control its editorial policy, along with the arbitrary suspension of the licence CNS TV Channel 6, the PNCR, and all right thinking citizens, must conclude that, the strategic aim of the PPP/C, to dominate and control the Media, is alive and well.

The author of the banning of Mr. Moseley, President Bharat Jagdeo, is faithful to the PPP tradition of stomping on the rights of Journalists who speak inconvenient truths. President Jagdeo’s mentor, Dr Cheddi Jagan, threw Percy Armstrong out of a Press Conference, in the sixties, merely because he asked whether he (Dr. Jagan) was a communist.

The PNCR has noted that Mr. Moseley has long been a target of the President’s ire. The Party recalls that, just before the hosting of the ICC Cricket World Cup, Mr. Moseley had asked a question which caused President Jagdeo, as is his wont, to explode. This, along with his reporting of the Roger Khan Saga, has not endeared him to the power-drunk politicos in the Office of the President. That is why the PNCR is not surprised that, while Mr. Moseley has been banned, other members of Capitol News will be allowed to attend events at the Office of the President and State House. In other words, the Jagdeo PPP/C regime is trying to determine, the editorial policy of Capitol News, by deciding which Reporters can attend events at the Office of the President and State House. The PNCR believes that such a tactic must be vigorously opposed by the Media. A democracy cannot function without a free and effective Media.

The banning of Gordon Moseley, which, among other things, was designed to intimidate the Media, can only further undermine any semblance to a culture of democracy in Guyana. A regional observer has stated that the banning of Moseley is indicative of a crumbling democracy. The PNCR agrees and goes further to say that democracy, under the Jagdeo regime, has already crumbled.

The Media Corps, in Guyana, therefore, has an obligation to itself and the nation to defend the right to freedom of the Press. This includes the right to question any politician, however powerful he or she might believe himself or herself to be and to publish such information.

THE CONTINUED HARASSMENT OF OLIVER HINCKSON MUST STOP:

The Jagdeo PPP/C Administration continues to violate the human rights of Oliver Hinckson. This former Officer of the GDF was imprisoned, on what is widely regarded as trumped up charges of sedition and later on charges of Advocating terrorist act.

Since his imprisonment his life has become a living hell. The Jagdeo Administration has used every political ruse to prevent him from getting bail. When bail was granted recently the judicial system was manipulated to ensure that it was thwarted by the High Court.

Those associated with Oliver Hinckson, through friendship and other means, have been harassed by the security forces. This continued harassment of Hinckson is the best indication yet that the charges laid against him are political and are intended to silence him.

Mr. Hinckson has been unjustifiably placed in solitary confinement. No reason has been given for this action, as has become the custom. Mr. Hinckson has protested this development pointing out that it poses a danger to his health. The Jagdeo PPP/C Administration has been deaf to such pleas.

The present legal saga of the Executive challenging the Judiciary over the grant of bail to Hinckson by a Magistrate exposes with greater clarity that Oliver Hinckson is a political prisoner. A relentless battle will have to be waged to obtain his freedom. Consequently, the PNCR stands ready to continue the battle against the wicked, vindictive and evil forces resident in the PPP and the Jagdeo PPP/C Administration.


THE HEALTH OF THE NATION CONTINUES TO BE NEGLECTED:

An examination, which looks beyond the rambling statements of the Minister of Health extolling the achievements, clearly reveals that, in the medical sector, as in the other areas of Government, there is deterioration and regression. There are many reports of patients dying, as the result of negligence by medical practitioners. The poor and the powerless have to spend hours waiting for attention at Outpatient departments of public hospitals and other medical centres. Corruption haunts the medical system.

It is not surprising, therefore, that with this kind of disarray, the outbreak of diseases, such as Dengue fever, influenza, and tuberculosis, are not tackled with the needed energy, resources and authority by the Ministry of Health.

The PNCR had drawn attention to the outbreak of Dengue fever, many months ago. However, it is only now that it has become a cause of concern to the Health authorities. There is a major outbreak of an influenza epidemic in Georgetown, and, the PNCR suspects, in other parts of the country. It is noteworthy that there has been no Advisory telling the citizenry what precautions should be taken.

Unknown to many Guyanese tuberculosis has made a comeback. An increasing number of our citizens have been afflicted with this disease but, to date, the Ministry of Health has issued no Alert or Bulletin.

The following section of the Global Report on Tuberculosis is chilling:

“According to estimations contained in the World TB Report 2005, Guyana has the fourth highest rate of TB in the Americas, a rate of 900 new cases per year. The estimated annual rate of infection is 3.2%, and an estimated 14% of the population, or 105,000 people, are infected with TB. In 2004, 46 people died as a result of TB in Guyana, and 34 of these people were HIV+. Recent figures put the total percentage of TB patients cured at clinics in Georgetown, New Amsterdam, Linden and West Demerara at 43.7%. Overall, only 6.6% of those receiving treatment died.”

The diseases mentioned above and others must be sapping the energies of the nation and causing a major loss in productivity. A nation, as small and poor as ours, can hardly afford this.

The Jagdeo PPP/C Administration has a moral duty to take measures to bring diseases, such as the influenza outbreak, dengue and tuberculosis, under urgent control.

It is in these circumstances that the PNCR makes a qualified approval of the successful kidney transplant recently in Guyana. The Doctors and Nurses who carried out this operation must be congratulated.

The Medical authorities must balance its obsession with big sensational projects with the day-to-day imperative of meeting the basic medical/health needs of the poor, such as an adequate supply of drugs.

JOINT OPPOSITION PARTIES PETITION TO CARICOM:

The Parliamentary Opposition Parties have received a formal acknowledgement of receipt of the Petition submitted to CARICOM from its Secretary General, Mr. Edwin Carrington. In his letter, Mr. Carrington stated that he discussed the Petition with current Chairman of CARICOM, Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer, and it was agreed that the matter could only be placed on the Agenda by a member state. He asked for further advice on the manner in which the Parliamentary Opposition Parties wished to proceed with the issue. The General Secretary of the PNCR, on behalf of the Joint Opposition Parties, has since acknowledged the letter and a complete response will be forwarded to the Secretary General after the Parties have discussed the matter.

THE HOLDING UP OF THE MICRO PROJECTS: POLITICAL DISCRIMINATION:

The deliberate frustration of the implementation of the approved micro-projects by the Jagdeo Administration is another example of the blatant political discrimination practiced by the regime. The micro projects programme funded by the European Union (EU) to the value of $200 million was formulated by non-governmental organisations and the projects were approved by the European Union using objective criteria. The PPP/C, however, wants political control of the approval process and has elected to hold the process until this objective is achieved.

When asked for the reasons why the projects had been held up by the Jagdeo Administration, Dr. Luncheon, in a rare moment of brevity, said that, “certain expectations were not met”. Later the Minister of Finance vaguely answered a similar question in the National Assembly by stating that, “administrative matters were involved”. These reasons, or rather excuses, are transparently deceitful.

Whatever reasons are advanced, the end result is that the poor people in the rural areas are being hampered in their development at a time when the PPP/C Administration hypocritically propagandise their Menu of measures to enable Guyanese to cope with the spiraling cost of living. Badewattie Kandial of the Blankenburg Women’s group for social empowerment and Lloyd Angus of the Trafalgar/Union Communion Development Council are two of several people who have submitted projects for approval and will now have to live with the disappointment of seeing funds held up and their projects frustrated. Once again, the Jagdeo Administration has exposed itself as being uncaring, callous, and indifferent to the needs and concerns of the poor people of this country.


People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia
Georgetown, Guyana.
Thursday 17 July, 2008