PRESS STATEMENT - Friday 11 March 2011



The PNCR extends its condolences to the family and friends of the late Ms. Allison Mingo, former employee of the Party’s Secretariat at Congress Place who died on the Sunday 6th March 2011 after a period of illness, and Ms. Gwendolyn Munroe who died on Monday 7th March 2011;

· President Jagdeo’s racist, inflammatory and untruthful statements at Babu John on Sunday March 4, has serious implications for peace, race relations and national security and is a disgrace and an embarrassment to the nation;

· President Jagdeo’s speech at Babu John is reflective of the immorality and double standards he has displayed in both private and public life as he asks Berbicians to remember the past but tells Buxtonions to forget;

· PPP deprives citizens of land rights already acquired as they rush through a Law eliminating the right of citizens to prescriptive Title of State Lands;

· Despite support for a Commonwealth Day motion, the Speaker muzzles a PNCR MP in the National Assembly of the Parliament after he exposes the undemocratic and dictatorial nature of the PPP Regime during motion on Commonwealth Day.



CONDOLENCES



The Leader, Central Executive and members of the People’s National Congress Reform express our condolences to the daughters, Mona & Leisel, and other relatives and friends of the late Ms. Allison Mingo who departed this life on Sunday 6th March 2011 at the Davis Memorial Hospital after an extended period of illness.



Ms. Mingo was a Party member and employee of the Party’s Secretariat, Congress Place, for some 21 years. She resigned several months ago due to ill health.



The funeral arrangements for the late Ms. Mingo will be announced after the arrival of her daughter, Leisel, who resides in Canada.



The PNCR also wishes to extend condolence to the family, relatives and friends of Party member, Mrs. Gwendolyn Munroe, who died on Monday 7th March 2011.



May their souls rest in peace and rise in glory!



JAGDEO’S RACIST, INFLAMMATORY AND UNTRUTHFUL STATEMENTS AT BABU JOHN: A NATIONAL DISGRACE



While Guyanese have become accustomed to the disgraceful utterances of President Bharrat Jagdeo on public occasions, his racist, inflammatory and untruthful statements at Babu John on Sunday 4th March, has serious implications for peace, race relations and national security, particularly in an Election Year. In addition to lying about events which occurred during the General Elections of 1973 in Berbice, he made an unwarranted and provocative attack on the Presidential Candidate of the PNCR, Brigadier (ret.), David Granger, MSS, who gave dedicated and distinguished service to the nation and people of Guyana: a distinction that President Jagdeo will never achieve.



In addressing his supporters on the commemoration of Cheddi Jagan’ death anniversary, Jagdeo demonstrated his obvious fear that the PPP will lose the next elections. According to President Jagdeo,



“Someone like Granger will succeed or could succeed if and they are counting on him succeeding because young people in this country don’t have a memory of the 70s and the 80s,”



To, hopefully, avoid that loss, he resorted to the old PPP tactics of creating racial insecurity in the hope of keeping Guyana polarised during the period of elections. President Jagdeo then told his audience of a few hundred that had been transported at state expense to the site, using state vehicles and Guysuco trucks,



“… to educate younger persons about the hard political and economic times when the PNCR was in power and guard against those returning under the guise of democrats.”



President Jagdeo may have been fed a diet of distortions by PPP supporters at Mahaica about the facts surrounding the death of two persons in July 1973, since he was a little boy of nine years in short pants at that time. He is, however, not only an adult now, but the President of Guyana and cannot claim to be misinformed. It is, therefore, obvious that he wishes those distorted accounts of our history to be spread by PPP faithfuls to “younger generations” in the hope that racial animosity would prevail to guarantee the PPP the votes of the East Indian community of Guyana.



His specific use of words, such as “… blood on his hands because the people in Berbice; just here- the people who were killed ... in full knowledge of people like Granger and the others who controlled the political directions of the country at that time,” was deliberately contrived to create public mischief.



The facts are that Mr. Granger was not an Army Officer assigned to any responsibility in Berbice in 1973 as he was then stationed at Atkinson Field, now Timehri Airport. Second, Mr. Granger was not at that time in the management and control of the Guyana Defence Force. Third, he was not a member of the Directorate of the PNCR or the Government.



President Jagdeo, therefore, deliberately lied to his supporters when he tried to link Mr. Granger to events in Berbice in 1973. More significantly, however, Jagdeo also lied to his supporters about the events in Berbice when he failed to tell them that the incident at No 64 Village on the 16th July 1973 was directly organised by the PPP as part of their plan to create disturbances after the 1973 Elections. The Report of the Commission of Inquiry, appointed on the 15th September 1973 to inquire into the incidents and conducted by the Honourable Mr. Justice Dhanessar Jhappan, a Judge of the High Court, was very specific on this matter. For example, at Page 19, it states,



“The events at No. 64, on the 16th July 1973, that led up to the shot Lieutenant Henry fired at the crowd, have some direct bearing to the speeches made at political meetings held by the People’s Progressive Party in the Corentyne, in June 1973 when Dr. Jagan in particular told his supporters what they were to do after the close of the polls on polling day … The behaviour of the crowd that assembled at the beach road and in the school compound, followed the same pattern advocated by Dr. Jagan, I have already dealt with this.



In his findings at Page 21 the Honourable Justice Dhan Jappan stated,



“Taking all these circumstances into consideration especially the important task of escorting the ballot boxes with so few men under his command, I find that Lieutenant Henry acted with consideration and thought under those very difficult situations, and when he fired at the crowd it was both necessary and reasonable, and that he was justified in so doing.

The incidents on the Corentyne Coast and in particular at No 64 Village were not the only of its kind in Berbice. In the Canje District the behaviour pattern was exactly the same. When the security forces went to escort the polling officials with the ballot boxes they met with resistance from crowds all along the way.”



The PPP has attempted over the years to distort the events of 1973 as they have done in distorting their role in the stimulation of racial strife in 1964 prior to the Elections, as part of their Campaign entitled, “NO PR OR DEATH”.



They continually emphasise the death of two persons at No 64 Village, Jagan Ramessar and Bholanauth Parmanand, while suppressing the fact that another person, Vernon Campbell who was working with the security forces, was also killed at Canje when a PPP inspired crowd sought to disarm a police man and the gun fell to the ground. They have also always painted this incident in a racial context by deliberately withholding information that both the security personnel and the Election officials were of various ethnic groups. For example, the report at page seven identifies that Sergeant Ross and Police Constable Seecharran were members of Lt. Henry’s party at No 64 Village.

What Jagdeo also failed to inform his bussed in crowd, was that between 24th June 7th July 1973 the PPP held a series of meetings in Corentyne at which the main speaker was Dr. Cheddi Jagan and at which the Jhappan Report states, at Page 5,



“His theme at these meetings was the same. He told them ... after they had cast their votes and the voting had concluded, they were to organise themselves, and formed themselves into a human barricade outside the polling places. They were to take their women folk and babies and squat on the roadways or streets leading to and from the polling places. ... squatting was to be reinforced by barricades made of old trucks, cars, tree trunks, pieces of wood and anything at their disposal ... … if Burnham use the police and the soldiers ... then force must be met with force, and that if the People’s National Congress lose the election, they the PNC were going to cause trouble again …”



Following in the same pattern of his late Leader, President Jagdeo has consistently used the Babu John event to create racial discord. In his previous address at the same site a year ago, he told those gathered, in clear racial overtones, that if the PNCR won an election they would distribute guns to bandits to rob and kill them. Last week, he invoked new words of “blood on their hands”. These are indeed dangerous developments in an election year with Guyana’s known political history.



In 1964, Guyana was torn apart with racial strife after the PPP, dissatisfied with the decision to introduce the new system of proportional representation, PR, launched a campaign of terror across the country, “No PR or Death”, to prevent the holding of elections. It is the same PPP that engaged in several acts of sabotage, such as the bombing of infrastructure and burning of buildings and cane fields, between 1964 and 1985 while the PNC was in Government. It is the same PPP that facilitated the reign of terror by phantom gangs and drug Lords which resulted in the execution style murders of over four hundred youth, mainly of African descent, over the past few years and have refused to hold a single Inquiry into these matters. Consequently, Guyanese cannot afford to treat lightly statements made by President Jagdeo that can create racial and political tensions and reignite racial strife in Guyana.



His untruthful, inflammatory and racist statements at Babu John must be condemned by all. Such a matter would have been appropriate for the attention of a duly constituted and constitutional Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) under the Law, but regrettably that too is a toothless poodle under the control of President Jagdeo. President Bharrat Jagdeo is a disgrace and an embarrassment to Guyana. His days are, indeed, numbered.



JAGDEO’S IMMORALITY AND DOUBLE STANDARDS



During this year 2011, the United Nations proclaimed, the International Year for People of African Descent, one would have expected that any responsible Government would seek to promote the successful achievement of its declared objectives. The Head of State would be expected to set the appropriate example. Regrettably, President Jagdeo’s immorality and double standards have so disgraced his administration that he no longer has any moral authority to administer the affairs of Guyana.



The UN stated that, “The Year aims at strengthening national actions and regional and international cooperation for the benefit of people of African descent in relation to their full enjoyment of economic, cultural, social, civil and political rights, their participation and integration in all political, economic, social and cultural aspects of society, and the promotion of a greater knowledge of and respect for their diverse heritage and culture.”



Included in the mandate of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, were,



* To propose measures to ensure full and effective access to the justice system by people of African descent;
* To submit recommendations on the design, implementation and enforcement of effective measures to eliminate racial profiling of people of African descent;
* To address all the issues concerning the well-being of Africans and people of African descent contained in the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action; and,
* To elaborate short-, medium- and long-term proposals for the elimination of racial discrimination against people of African descent, bearing in mind the need for close collaboration with international and development institutions and the specialized agencies of the United Nations system to promote the human rights of people of African descent through, inter alia, the following activities.



Instead of pursuing these objectives the PPP/C Administration led by President Jagdeo appear determined to manipulate this year for partisan political advantage. The first blow was the deliberate exclusion of the major African Guyanese Organisations from the planning of the Programme and the hijacking of the opening so called “Official Launch” of the year.



The Government in their 2011 Budget has also allocated millions of dollars in non specific allocations to provide the flexibility for intervention in certain selective African communities if they deem it politically expedient to do so. This explains the PPP policy in Buxton where they have suddenly developed an interest.



Significantly, in visiting this and other African communities President Jagdeo has failed to address their concerns over the torture, murder and disappearance of their sons at the hands of state forces and state sponsored phantom gangs. He has failed to address the concern for an Independent International Inquiry that is supported by all major stakeholders in Guyana. Instead in visiting these African communities President Jagdeo has been urging them to forget the past and look to the future: the complete opposite of what he advised his supporters at Babu John last Sunday. Most Guyanese are not unaware of these double standards and will not take him seriously, but such immorality is dangerous and unbecoming of a President.



It is also amazing that President Jagdeo could feel comfortable opening a National Men’s Forum recently claim concern over the specter of escalating domestic violence in Guyana. The harboring of male predators and pedophiles at the Office of the President; encouraging wife abusers in his administration; deceiving the nation that he was legally married to Ms. Varshnie Singh and his abuse of her while being his companion at State House, have all left him devoid of any moral authority to speak on those issues. In this context, President Jagdeo’s speech at Babu John is reflective of the immorality and double standards he has displayed in both private and public life as he asks Berbicians to remember the past but tells Buxtonions to forget.



Guyana is indeed in a moral crisis and it is to be hoped that Guyanese would together summon the will to remove once and for all this immoral dictatorial regime from our land.



GOVERNMENT MOVES TO DEPRIVE CITIZENS OF RIGHTS TO PROPERTY



Yesterday, Thursday 10th March 2011, despite objections by all Opposition members of Parliament, the PPP passed the Title to Land (Prescription and Limitation) (Amendment) Bill 2011. On Wednesday 9th March, the Leader of the Opposition had written both the Prime Minister and the Attorney General requesting that the second reading of the Bill be deferred for a period of at least two weeks.



Members of Parliament were only privy to the intention of the Government one week ago, when the Bill was circulated and read for the first time at the Sitting of the National Assembly on Thursday 3rd March 2011. The PNCR was neither briefed by the Government, nor is it aware of the reason for this Bill being treated with such urgency by the PPP. The far reaching effects of the proposed amendments, particularly, as it affects the rights of our citizens motivated the PNCR to engage in consultations with stakeholders. These consultations could not be concluded by 10th March 2011, hence the letters from the Leader of the Opposition. In the PPP usual style of only lip-service to consultation, the Prime Minister in a one-sentence response stated that the PPP could not entertain the request.



It is now evident that one of the motivations of this Bill was to deprive citizens, who may have acquired rights from obtaining Title of ownership of those State lands. Under the present Law, undisturbed occupation of State lands for thirty years would have entitled citizens to apply for prescriptive Title of the said State lands. This right has now been arbitrarily removed. No provision has been made in the Law to deal with those persons who may have already accumulated that right after completing more than thirty years of undisturbed occupation. Consequently, it is questionable whether those persons constitutional right under Article 142 have not been infringed.



Article 142 guarantees that, “no property of any description shall be compulsorily taken possession of, and no interest in or right over property of any description shall be compulsorily acquired, except by or under the authority of a written law and where provision applying to that taking of possession or acquisition is made by a written law requiring the prompt payment of adequate compensation”



Both the PNCR Speakers on this Bill, Ms. Deborah Backer and Ms. Clarissa Riehl, illustrated the grave implications and negative consequences of this Bill in the Parliament. Ms. Backer noted that with the present “oppressive” amendment increases the already weighted power that the Government whereby the State and any other citizen could prescribe against private land after only 12 years undisturbed occupation but the citizen could no longer prescribe against the State even after thirty years.



The constitutionality of this Bill is certain to be challenged and is certainly destined for the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).



COMMONWEALTH DAY MOTION: SPEAKER MUZZLES PNCR MP



Despite the PNCR’s declared support for a Commonwealth Day Motion in the National Assembly, Speaker, Mr. Ralph Ramkarran, barred PNCR MP, Mr. Aubrey Norton from concluding his presentation unless he apologised for an alleged infringement. Mr. Norton and later PNCR’s Acting Chief Whip, Ms. Deborah Backer sought clarification from the Speaker on the specific infringement, but were denied a response from the Speaker. This prompted AFC’s MP, Mr. Raphael Trotman and other PNCR speakers to withdraw from any further participation in the debate and walk out of the National Assembly.



The Motion called on the National Assembly, inter alia, to



· “recognise during the observance of Commonwealth day 2011, the Commonwealth’s significant contribution to Guyana and other member countries in the promotion of peace, representative democracy and individual liberty and sustainable human development.” and,

· “reiterate its recognition and support for the efforts of the Commonwealth to address emerging and old challenges and its endeavours to promote a world of freedom, equality, development and prosperity for all peoples, especially the young and women.”



It was obvious that the PPP was embarrassed at the exposure of their dismal record in promoting democracy, individual liberty, freedom and equality, as they sought to deem Mr. Norton’s contribution irrelevant. The Speaker then attempted to restrict the remarks of Mr. Norton on the grounds that the Motion was a consensus Motion that had been forwarded to the Leader of the Opposition since last year. Whether the Motion was sent to the Leader of the Opposition or had the support by the PNCR were not in question and certainly irrelevant. The issue was whether the Motion did not provide an opportunity to review the record of the PPP/C Administration in the context of the Rule of Law and the promotion of Democracy. The wording of the Motion as outlined is clear. It is, therefore, obvious that the PNCR MP was muzzled after he began to expose the undemocratic and dictatorial nature of the PPP/C regime and to prevent him from continuing further exposure of the corrupt and repressive Jagdeo regime.



If the Speaker wants higher standards in the National Assembly, then, perhaps, he should request President Jagdeo to set the appropriate example to the nation.



People’s National Congress Reform

Congress Place, Sophia

Georgetown, Guyana

Friday 11th March 2011