PRESS STATEMENT By The People’s National Congress Reform Thursday October 30, 2008 Media Centre, Congress Place, Sophia



• PPP/C Regime condones Torture of Guyanese citizens but the International Court of Justice has no respect for Office or position. Consequently, those responsible for the torture of Guyanese citizens will eventually be brought to justice;
• GPL and the Government of Guyana have an obligation to inform Guyanese truthfully about the erratic and unreliable supply of electricity being experienced throughout the country by the people of Guyana;
• PNCR Leadership Outreach activities exposes further PPP maladministration, continued discrimination and marginalization in areas across the country: the deplorable state of the Bartica/ Potaro road and the disgraceful service at the new New Amsterdam Hospital are examples;
• Despite reduction in oil prices, billions collected in VAT and a glowing mid-year report by the Minister of Finance, the Government provides no relief for Guyanese suffering from the spiraling cost of living;
• North American Region of the PNCR to hold Conference of all groups in Toronto Canada on November 8, 2008. Party Leader to address Conference and Election of Office bearers to be conducted.

THE PPP REGIME APPROVES TORTURE OF GUYANESE:

The refusal of the PPP/C Government to support the PNCR’s motion on torture in the National Assembly last Monday is a serious indictment on the Jagdeo regime for which it will eventually be answerable. Their Government’s continued failure to publish the Report on torture committed by some elements of the Guyana Defence Force, the GDF, and their refusal to investigate other allegations against the Joint Services in Guyana, illustrate the regime’s blatant disregard for the human rights of Guyanese, their lack of concern over the violation of the fundamental rights of citizens as guaranteed by Articles 138 to 153 of the Constitution and the callousness with which they regard the provisions of the International Convention on Torture to which Guyana is a signatory. Once all the local remedies are exhausted, however, the PNCR will be pursuing these matters at the International Level to make the regime accountable to international bodies.

The approval of torture by the PPP/C regime is a frightening development in Guyana. Guyanese, both at home and abroad must be put on notice. The people of Guyana cannot afford to treat lightly with the declared intentions of the PPP/C Government in the context of gruesome and well-documented experiences of torture in Latin America and farther afield. When their Minister of Agriculture refers to cruel acts of torture as, “merely roughing–up”, and the Head of the Presidential Secretariat confesses that the Government never intended to punish anyone found guilty in the recent torture investigations in the GDF, it is time for Guyanese to reflect on the atrocities of the Pinochet regime of Chile and of those committed by General Somoza of Nicaragua. Consequently, positive action is required before it is too late.

Guyanese have become accustomed to the regular breaches of the constitution by the Jagdeo regime. For example, the Integrity Commission was unconstitutionally appointed and after three years, the Courts are still to adjudicate on the action by the Leader of the Opposition challenging these appointments. The unconstitutional extension of the life of the Ethnic Relations Commission continues unashamedly. The President breaks the law by hoarding money collected from the lottery at the Office of the President rather than paying it into the consolidated fund as directed by the Auditor General. These examples of lawlessness at the highest level of the land make it not surprising that those charged with the security and protection of our citizens feel emboldened to regularly breach the fundamental rights of citizens.

The condoning of unlawful behavior by the PPP/C Administration was exposed when accused drug lord Roger Khan, now in a US prison, advertised in the National newspaper that he was working in collaboration with the security forces. During that period, the then Minister of Home Affairs, Ronald Gajraj, was accused of managing a “phantom” gang that engaged in extra-judicial killings and murder. He admitted having telephone contacts with shady characters and was eventually forced to resign after public outrage and protest. However, being the right-hand man of President Jagdeo he was rewarded for his efforts with a promotion as Ambassador of Guyana to the Republic of India. The US DEA has now stated in the US Courts that Roger Khan and his organization, which, admittedly, were also involved in the “phantom” gangs, were responsible for the murder and execution of over two hundred Guyanese. The gruesome deaths were a regular feature in the daily newspapers of that period. The disregard for the law and the constitution by the Jagdeo regime is not new, but this most recent official approval of torture necessitates urgent responses.

Guyanese are also aware of the miserable record of flagrant breaches of international conventions and honouring of agreements in the breach by the Jagdeo regime. The Government’s continued failure to honour provisions of several International Labour Conventions to which it is a signatory is also a notable example. Consequently, this brazen and unapologetic support for torture by the Jagdeo regime indicates their gross contempt for the International Convention on Torture and their preparedness to breach its provisions.

President Jadgeo and those GDF and Police Officers involved in torture should, however, take note, that the International Court of Justice has no respect for Office or position. Charles Taylor was indicted and is still in custody facing trial; a Sudanese President was recently indicted; General Milosevic of Yugoslavia was eventually arrested and died in custody; and, several soldiers in Eastern Europe have faced the Court in The Hague. Everyone is individually responsible for his or her actions. Consequently, those responsible for the torture of Guyanese citizens should know that the PNCR would not rest until they are brought to justice.

GPL AND THE GOVERNMENT OWE THE PEOPLE OF GUYANA A CREDIBLE EXPLANATION:

The Guyana Power and Light (GPL) and the Government of Guyana owe the people of Guyana a proper and credible explanation for the erratic and unreliable supply of electricity in Guyana. None of the official statements offered so far have logically explained the daily unscheduled blackouts all over Guyana, from the Corentyne Coast to Essequibo.

In December 2007, when GPL promised Guyanese a Black Christmas, President Jagdeo, in his usual bravado-style, made some grandiose announcements and promises. Guyanese were told that new generators were ordered and that they would have arrived by special shipment to ensure a bright Christmas. The nation was also informed that GPL was being reorganized, staff would be reduced, greater efficiency would be achieved and that a new special maintenance schedule would be observed. It follows that with increased generators, as announced by President Jagdeo, there should have been a greater opportunity to accelerate the maintenance programme. Less than a year later, this company is holding Guyanese to ransom again, businesses are seriously affected and productive activities are being stymied. Last week our health facilities were adversely affected. The Fort Wellington Hospital was in total blackout for the entire evening on Sunday October 19, 2008 and without a functioning generator. On the same day, the entire Corentyne Coast from No 51 Village to New Amsterdam, the entire West Coast Berbice and East Coast Demerara from Rosignol to Plaisance were without electricity.

What logical explanation could there be for this state of affairs? Is it that so much unbudgeted money was spent on CARIFESTA X that none was available to purchase fuel? Is it that the promised maintenance never took place or that there was no money to purchase the spares? Is it that the GPL policy of indiscriminate dismissals of experienced employees has resulted in a shortage of relevant skills that are essential to the effective maintenance of the system? What are the real reasons for the non-completion of the new generator at Kingston as was finally admitted by GPL yesterday?

A few months ago, the PNCR raised the issue of GPL in Parliament and advocated that in the public interest there should be an investigation. Similar to their behavior with respect to the torture motion, the PPP rejected the suggestion and commended GPL for the wonderful work that they were doing. Guyanese are today reaping the results of that folly. GPL and the Government must therefore come clean and let the people of Guyana know the truth.

PPP NEGLECT OF BARTICA AND NEW AMSTERDAM: EVIDENCE OF POLITICAL DISCRIMINATION IN ALLOCATION OF RESOURCES:

As the PNCR Leadership continues its outreach activities, more evidence of the PPP maladministration is coming to light as continued discrimination and marginalization in areas across the country is revealed. During the last week the PNCR Leadership, led by PNCR and Opposition Leader, Robert Corbin, visited and held meetings with residents at New Amsterdam, Berbice and at Bartica, Essequibo River. Residents outlined a list of major issues affecting them in their communities and the failure of the Government to respond to their many approaches for assistance.

High on the list of matters affecting the residents of New Amsterdam is the poor service provided by the new New Amsterdam Hospital, even as Health Minister Ramsammy boasts of improved conditions in medical services and medical delivery throughout the length and breadth of Guyana. One surprising occurrence last week was a credible allegation that two patients after being discharged from the New Amsterdam Hospital were later found to have sustained fractures on various limbs and had to be treated by a nurse at the National Insurance Scheme (NIS), in Berbice. Surprisingly, the nurse was able to discover the fractures from the same x-rays that the Hospital used for its diagnosis. These incidents obviously beg the question of the quality of the staff assigned there. In addition, patients reported that there is poor water supply to the facility and very often, there is none at all, thus making life difficult for them and also affecting the sanitary facilities available at the hospital. Shortage of drugs and the fear that the regular blackouts and shortage of water are affecting the sterilization of equipment and the quality of the service generally are matters of grave concern to the people of Berbice. Security at the Mental Hospital in Berbice was also reported as precarious with patients being constantly exposed to assaults by intruders.

The Minister should spend less time boasting about how many “State of the Art” hospitals he has constructed and concentrate on the quality of health care that these institutions are expected to offer Guyanese. The PNCR calls upon Minister Leslie Ramsammy to investigate the conditions at the two hospitals in New Amsterdam and report to the Nation on the steps taken by him to remedy these problems.

Neglect at Bartica is similar to Berbice. The one to three mile area of the Bartica/Potaro road has been in a perpetual state of disrepair for years. The limited funds allocated to the region for maintenance of this road is so inadequate that residents are convinced that political discrimination is at work. They referred to other areas in the Region known for PPP/C support where roads are in immaculate condition and are repaired yearly while an important road, which is the gateway to the mining areas of the Region, is neglected. A few weeks ago, the residents were forced to mount a massive demonstration to draw attention to their plight. It was only at that time that some minor maintenance works were eventually started. The major question is how long will it last? The residents are convinced, however, that the recent efforts by the Administration will only ensure that they experience the same problems again next year.

Government has an obligation to ensure the equitable distribution of resources, The Jagdeo regime fails to appreciate that the political discrimination practiced by the Administration will only result in greater alienation in our society. How does the Government explain the fact that at this late stage of the year the subvention to the New Amsterdam Municipality has not been paid?

DESPITE REDUCTION IN OIL PRICES AND A GLOWING MID-YEAR REPORT, GUYANESE STILL SUFFERING FROM THE CONTINUED RISE IN THE COST OF LIVING;

Over the past weeks, the price of oil on the world marked has constantly declined. Every Guyanese expected that, as with their escalation, there would have been a commensurate reduction in the cost of items in Guyana. Regrettably, this has not happened. Government continues to rake in higher taxes while the price of kerosene, the small man’s fuel, remains more expensive than gasoline.

It is significant, that the Minister of Finance has belatedly published the legally mandated mid-year report. One of the reasons for its delayed publication is obvious. It reveals that $11B has already been raked in by Value Added tax for the first half of this year, thus revealing how deceptive the Government has been with their original claim that the tax would have been revenue neutral. Unfortunately, the Government continues to insult the people of Guyana by offering no relief to their present high cost of living plight albeit, the glowing report presented by the Minister of Finance. The well-publicized single-parent relief has not materialized and the 5% increase for a few public servants has failed to offer any substantive relief to the suffering people of Guyana. Now that the mid-year report has been finally published, the PNCR calls upon the Jagdeo regime to pay the single parent relief now, to reduce the price of kerosene and increase the wages of public servants by at least 10% as an interim half-year measure.

PNCR NORTH AMERICAN REGION, (NAR), TO HOLD CONFERENCE IN TORONTO:

The North American Region of the PNCR will hold its Regional Conference in Toronto, Canada on November 8, 2008. Delegates who will be discussing a range of issues affecting Guyana and the PNCR will represent party groups from across North America. They will also elect a new Executive for the period ahead. Among the delegates will be representatives from groups in Florida, New Jersey, New York, Washington DC, Boston, Atlanta, Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto.

Rule 11 (3) of the PNCR’s Constitution provides for the establishment of Overseas Regions of the Party on the authorisation of the Central Executive Committee. The establishment of the NAR was duly authorized and the First Conference was held three years ago in Brooklyn New York in July 2005.

In sending his greetings for a successful Conference, General Secretary, Oscar Clarke states that,

“The importance of the Party’s North American Regional body cannot be underestimated since it can be useful in ensuring coordination of the efforts of its constituent groups in the overall quest to support the work of the Party at home in Guyana. It can remove duplication of efforts and, where necessary, can combine to deliver crucially needed financial and material support. It can coordinate campaigns to promote the work of the Party at home and abroad and it can also internationalise the many Human Rights violations and undemocratic practices of the Jagdeo Regime in Guyana.”

The Party Leader, in his message reminds the delegates that,

“The NAR could play a significant role, inter alia, in contributing ideas for the development of Party and Government programmes; establishing and maintaining a bank of skills that could be made available for successful implementation of Party and Government programmes and in providing human, material and financial support. A re-energized and rejuvenated PNCR will require adherents abroad to play a more dynamic role in charting a future course.”

The PNCR values highly the support that it has received from North American groups and extends best wishes for a successful Regional Conference. Party and Opposition Leader, Mr. Robert Corbin, MP, will deliver the feature address at the Conference.

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana
Thursday October 30, 2008