PNCR VINDICATED IN ITS ADVOCACY FOR AN INTERNATIONAL INQUIRY--PRESS STATEMENT Friday 14, May 2010




SUMMARY:
• The People’s National Congress Reform has dispatched a congratulatory message to the new British Prime Minister, Mr. David Cameron and his Deputy, Mr. Nick Clegg following their historic agreement to form a coalition Government;
• Remembering Dr. Ptolemy Reid on his 92nd Birth Anniversary;
• The recent fire which destroyed a major section of the St. Joseph’s Mercy Hospital should motivate the authorities to re-focus on the need for special attention to be given to our historical wooden buildings in order to ensure that possible fire hazards are identified and dealt with before they result in disaster;
• The call by the UK and other nations at the UN Conference in Geneva for independent probe of the phantom squad in Guyana vindicates the PNCR and the JOPP efforts in calling for an International Inquiry;
• Recent flooding at Pourdroyen, West Bank Demerara, which has resulted in unhealthy living conditions for residents in the area exposes the lies of the PPP Administration;
• Racial and political discrimination by the PPP Regime continues in West Coast Berbice despite the propaganda by President Jagdeo at the Opening of the new water treatment plant in Cotton Tree Village, West Coast Berbice.

CONGRATULATIONS TO NEW BRITISH PM DAVID CAMERON AND HIS DEPUTY MR. NICK CLEGG

The People’s National Congress Reform has dispatched a congratulatory message to the new British Prime Minister, Mr. David Cameron and his Deputy, Mr. Nick Clegg on their election to office following their historic agreement to form a coalition Government after the last General Election at which none of the contesting political parties received a parliamentary majority.

In its message, on behalf of the Leader of the PNCR and Opposition, the PNCR noted the early decision of the two leaders to form a coalition Government in the national interest. It also wished them success in their endeavours to improve the lives of the British people while expressing hope for the maintenance of mutually beneficial relations between our two countries.

REMEMBERING DR. PTOLEMY REID ON HIS 92ND BIRTH ANNIVERSARY

On Saturday May 8th last, the Party acknowledged the 92nd Birthday Anniversary of the late, Dr. Ptolemy Alexander Reid, former Deputy Prime Minister of Guyana and former General Secretary of the Party. There is much to remember and reflect upon the life and work of the late Dr. Ptolemy Alexander Reid. The 8th of May Community High School at Dartmouth, Essequibo, Region 2 and the Ptolemy Reid Rehabilitation Centre located at Church and Carmichael Streets, Cummingsburg, Georgetown which provides therapy and basic education to children with cerebral palsy and other physical disabilities are constant reminders of his contribution to the Nation.

Dr. Ptolemy Reid, teacher, Veterinarian, and politician, was generally acknowledged across the political divide as a sincere, honest and caring patriot who always placed Party and country before self. He served as Prime Minister, Deputy Leader and General Secretary of the People’s National Congress, under the Forbes Burnham Administration. Dr. Reid held a number of important ministerial portfolios including Home Affairs, Finance and Agriculture. He was appointed Prime Minister in 1980 and retired from that office in 1984 when he retired from public life.

Born on May 8th 1918, to Herman and Marion Reid at the village of Dartmouth on the Essequibo Coast, Ptolemy Alexander Reid rose from humble beginnings to become a teacher and later studied at the Tuskegee Institute, Alabama in the United States, where he became a Doctor of Vetinary Medicine. On his return home to British Guiana, he was unable to find suitable employment and so he proceeded to the United Kingdom and satisfied the requirements for membership of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. On his return to Guyana, he was employed as a vetinary Doctor by Bookers Sugar Estates in 1958 until he entered the field of full time politics in 1964.

Dr. Ptolemy Alexander Reid died on Tuesday September 2nd 2003 at the age of 85, after prolonged effects of a previous stroke. His significant contributions to the Party and Guyana will never be forgotten.

PNCR EXPRESSES REGRET OVER THE DESTRUCTION OF THE MAIN STRUCTURE OF ST. JOSEPH’S MERCY HOSPITAL BY FIRE

Last Monday morning the people of Guyana awoke to the news that the St. Joseph’s Mercy Hospital was on fire. We all hoped and prayed for the safety and well-being of the patients and staff at the hospital. In the event, our hopes and prayers were not in vain. Thankfully, the fire was restricted to the main administrative building and the patients were all safely evacuated.

The PNCR congratulates the public-spirited citizen who first saw the smoke and rushed to the Hospital to alert them of the impending catastrophe and to offer assistance. While congratulating all who assisted in the extinguishing of the fire and evacuating the patients including the Guyana Fire Service and other security forces for a job well done, we cannot but bemoan the loss to fire, yet again, of a historic building owned by the Catholic community in Guyana. Not so long ago, it was the Church of the Sacred Heart in Main Street that was completely destroyed on Christmas Day.

The PNCR hopes that the hospital could be speedily rebuilt so that it can continue to render the high quality of service to which Guyanese have become accustomed.

There is a Guyanese proverb which states, "When your neighbour house is on fire start throwing water on your own." As we reflect on this recent fire and express our regrets to the Catholic Community, this is as good a time as any for the authorities to re-focus on the need for special attention to be given to our historical wooden buildings in order to ensure that possible fire hazards are identified and dealt with before they result in disaster. The National Trust must urgently present proposals for the prevention of fires at historical buildings including those assigned to the National Trust.

PNCR VINDICATED IN ITS ADVOCACY FOR AN INTERNATIONAL INQUIRY
The call by the United Kingdom Government and other Nations at the UN Conference in Geneva for an independent probe into the phantom squad and other human rights abuses vindicates the long advocacy of the PNCR and the recent initiative of the Joint Opposition Political Parties, (JOPP). Among the recommendations of the United Kingdom were, that Guyana holds an independent probe into abuses allegedly committed by the phantom squad between 2002 and 2006, and, that the Government commits to wide-ranging reform of the security agencies and the criminal justice sector guided by broad consultation and transparency.
Regrettably, the PNCR knows very well from past experience that such calls upon the Jagdeo regime will be futile unless sanctions are imposed or the Inquiry is conducted by the United Nations itself. The British also know, from their own experience in Guyana, that the Jagdeo Administration only pays lip service to consultation and transparency, which was so evident recently, that they were forced to withdraw millions of dollars pledged to the Security Sector Reform Project. That the PPP Administration gave up an opportunity to receive millions in aid rather that maintain transparency and continue consultation with stakeholders, indicate the extent of their disregard for International Opinion.
Several years ago, (December 2002), the PNCR had demanded that there be a Commission of Inquiry into the existence of a “phantom gang”, which Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Roger Luncheon had admitted existed in Guyana. At that time there was clear evidence of the involvement of the then Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. Ronald Gajraj. There were statements by several persons including Axel Williams and later George Bacchus, which implicated him. Shortly thereafter, both Williams and Bacchus were executed and the call by the PNCR was rejected by President Jagdeo.

After the continued exposure of the involvement of the Home Affairs Minister and the discovery of a cache of arms, at Good Hope, East Coast Demerara, in the possession of seven persons including, Roger Khan and a serving member of the Guyana Police Force, Jagdeo finally appointed a Commission of Inquiry limited only to determine whether the Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. Ronald Gajraj, was involved. By narrowing the issue to whether Minister Gajraj was involved, however, he laid the conditions for his exculpation, by the Presidential Commission of Inquiry, in 2004. Gajraj was then promoted to Guyana High Commissioner to India.

The PNCR constantly pursued this matter at several levels both locally and internationally and called upon the USA and the International community to take note of those developments.

Armed with the revelations highlighted in the International Narcotics Control Strategy Report of 2006, that Khan was a drug trafficker, Commissioner Felix pursued him. While the Guyana security forces were hunting him and before he became a custodian of the penal system of the United States, Khan claimed, in a full-page newspaper advertisement in 2006, that he was working with the Jagdeo Administration and the security forces to “curb crime.” The advertisement partly read,

“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”.

Continued calls by the PNCR and other organizations in Guyana failed to persuade the Jagdeo Administration and this remained the case even after revelations in Court documents during the trial of Roger Khan and his lawyer, Robert Simmels in the USA.

In a Press Statement dated April 2, 2009 the PNCR stated that,

“There is now sufficient evidence, in the public domain, for the Jagdeo Administration to immediately launch a comprehensive, independent and impartial public Inquiry into the criminal enterprise of Roger Khan, which, among other consequences, led to the deaths of more than 200 Guyanese.

The PNCR contends that conclusive evidence exists and is already in the public domain. Court records, from Khan’s preliminary inquiry into charges made against him for trafficking in cocaine to the United States, have detailed the criminal and illegal activities of Roger Khan. Indeed, in these records the American courts have alleged that Khan was responsible for the deaths of Donald Allison and Dave Persaud. The court documents in fact named Khan as head of a “paramilitary squad that would murder, threaten and intimidate” other Guyanese citizens. They underscored that Khan was responsible for “at least 200 extra-judicial killings” in Guyana between 2002 and 2006.”

It was evident that the Jagdeo Administration was afraid of such an investigation since court records specified that at least two Ministers, one former and one current, were implicated and it could be inferred that other members of the Administration, possibly at the highest level were involved. Guyanese will readily remember that, when the previous Commissioner of Police, Mr. Winston Felix, decided to put an end to Khan’s criminal activities he was hounded from office and sent into retirement.

At this juncture, the PNCR collaborated with the other Opposition Parties in Guyana and prepared a Dossier in Support of An Independent Legal Interrogation of Grave Human Rights Abuses in Guyana. The goal of the Dossier was to establish that there is a sufficient prima facie basis to warrant further interrogation of grave human rights abuses in Guyana by an independent body cloaked with the legal authority to do this. Several appendices to the Dossier included, a Partial List of Citizens Unlawfully Killed by Security Forces; a Partial List of Citizens allegedly shot to death or unlawfully killed by the "Black Clothes" squad or other rogue elements in the Security Services, the "phantom squad" and other instances of extra-judicial killing, execution or assassination; Letter to Secretary-General, United Nations; Affidavits by George Bacchus; Letter to Chairman of CARICOM and Heads of Government; Citizens Petition to CARICOM Heads of Government; and, Press Statements on Torture and Human Rights (September 2007 - July 2009)

After the publication of the Dossier and its circulation internationally, the Administration not only denied its contents but also engaged in wild publicity that the Police had launched an investigation. The propaganda machinery was placed in over drive. Senior Officers from the Criminal Investigation Department sought and received copies of Affidavits from the Leader of the Opposition and other citizens but, as anticipated, the matter came to a natural stand still and nothing more has been heard.

Given the foregoing facts, it is unreasonable to expect that the Government of Guyana will be influenced by the UN to hold an inquiry of its own. The PNCR, therefore, restates its position that the only solution lies in an International independent and impartial Commission of Inquiry and we intend to continue our advocacy of this matter internationally.

It is instructive that the Human Rights Report of Guyana, which should have been the subject of consultation with Organisations in Guyana before presentation to the UN, remained a secret document until its presentation to that forum. This fact alone should alert the UN Conference, taking place at this present moment in Geneva, that the Guyana report should be disregarded and an inquiry conducted by the body.

FLOODING AND DEPLORABLE CONDITIONS AT POUDEROYEN: ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF RACIAL AND POLITICAL DISCRIMINATION

The PPP/C Administration so bent of deceiving by propaganda the reality of life in Guyana appears oblivious to the deplorable conditions, which Guyanese have to endure. The People’s National Congress Reform will continue, however, to expose these deplorable living conditions so evident after the recent flood at Middle Street, Pouderoyen on the West Bank of Demerara.

A team from the Party’s Public Relations Department visited that village on Friday 7 May 2010 and filmed the unsavory conditions which residents are forced to endure daily. Those conditions include mosquito infestation, which clearly stemmed from constant flooding in the area. The residents have been constantly calling on the Authorities in vain to have their situation addressed and are fed up with having to literally run to escape the insect infestation in the community. One resident spoke of the fact that her feet touches water daily as she rises out of bed, a condition that is clearly a breeding ground for mosquitoes. She also explained that the use of insecticides is pointless and there is no practice of fogging in that community. The PNCR team also discovered that the floodwater is stagnant and smelly, and this can be hazardous to the health of the people of that area.

Another issue raised, was that of drainage, the PNCR team was told and observed that the community’s main drain has not been desilted since the PNCR demitted Office despite the constant pronouncements by the Regional Administration. They are convinced that if drainage works were effected their flooding problems will be solved. They are, however, convinced that they are obvious subjects of victimization and racial discrimination by the present PPP/C Administration since they witness that citizens of a nearby village have continuously benefited from routine drainage works. Drains in Middle Street, Pouderoyen are no longer dug and sprayed, and the conditions are particularly hazardous for children.

The residents expressed the view that while the Government continues to spend large sum to host mega events such as World Cup Cricket, nothing is being spent to improve the well-being of citizens of their community. The reality is that they continue to live in fear of being attacked by reptiles including, snakes and alligators. Additionally, the koker at Versailles has been out of order for a prolonged period and this is believed to be contributing significantly to their predicament. The regular promises by the Regional Chairman of making an excavator available to dig the trenches and to remove the silt that is currently at Versailles have failed to materialize.

The residents of Middle Street, Pourdroyen are demanding to be treated as humans; they feel that it is time for the obvious racism to end and they be treated as Guyanese citizens. The Peoples National Congress Reform supports the residents of that community who continue to suffer daily and calls on the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Health and the Regional Administration of Region Three to address these problems immediately.

RACIAL AND POLITICAL DISCRIMINATION CONTINUES AS JAGDEO OPENS NEW WATER TREATMENT PLANT AT COTTON TREE VILLAGE, WEST COAST BERBICE

In a shameless display last week, the rookie Minister of Housing and Water, Mr. Irfaan Ali, speaking at the commissioning of the new Water Treatment Plant at Cotton Tree, West Coast Berbice, stated that Government’s investment in the water sector reflected the “fairness and equitable nature” of development under the PPP. In declaring the Plant open, President Jagdeo not only boasted that 15,000 people will benefit from treated water from the new plant but also announced a “huge future” for the Berbice area with major developments. He stated, inter alia,

“I have made it clear that that future has to encompass everyone equally, all of our peoples must benefit from this, and at the level of the State we ensure that this happens scrupulously,”

President Jagdeo was either under the illusion that the people of West Coast Berbice are foolish, or, he was speaking to impress his supporters elsewhere. Had he visited Hopetown a few miles away, he would have been confronted by the members of the Hopetown Housing Cooperative Society who have been struggling to have GUYWA agree to supply water to their housing development at Catherine’s Lust.

The society was not begging GUYWA or the Government to supply the materials. They have already purchased all the pipelines and are going to absorb the cost of laying the network in the housing area. They merely asked GUYWA to have the connection to their system. GUYWA promptly told them that they have to pay five million dollars merely for that connection. They wrote the very rookie Minister Ali, who was boasting at Cotton Tree of “fairness and equitable nature” of development under the PPP. He replied that their matter had been re-forwarded to GUYWA. After receiving no positive response, the Society then wrote to President Jadgeo. They are still awaiting a response.

The people of Hopetown are therefore not deceived by the propaganda of the President and his men. They have witnessed this kind of discrimination in all aspects of infrastructural development in Region Five. This blatant racial discrimination is so evident that it is not difficult for any stranger to observe if a comparison is done during visits to the various villages in the Region. The PNCR calls on President Jagdeo and the PPP/C Administration to make a reality of his speech at Cotton tree and direct that equal treatment is demonstrated in the water supply to Catherine’s Lust as requested by the Hopetown Housing Co-operative Society.


People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia
Georgetown, Guyana
Friday 14, May 2010