PRESS STATEMENT By The People’s National Congress Reform To The Press Conference on Thursday, January 22, 2004 Hall of Heroes, Congress Place, Sophia




SUMMARY:
 The PNCR offers its heartfelt sympathies to the families that have been the recent victims of the on-going crime wave.
 The crime situation in Guyana has not improved as a result of the actions of the Phantom and its shameful deeds.
 The President is violating his Oath of Office. Will he redeem himself?

The PNCR offers its heartfelt sympathies to the families that have been the recent victims of the on-going crime wave. We believe that until the government addresses the serious underlying causes of and modernizes and motivates the Guyana Police Force, violent crime will unfortunately maintain a daily presence in our society. For those who believe that the use of death squads has made our society safer and free from violent crime, we ask them to think again. Our citizens are still under threat. Death Squads are just as much a part of the problem.

GUYANA REMAINS UNSAFE:

One of the stark aspects of the tragedy which faces us as a nation is that despite the evidence that the government has resorted to a tonton macoute or mongoose gang to carry as its supposed response to the crime situation and to do its dirty acts, this policy has failed. It is quite evident that violent crime is still present in our midst. For example, only this week the residents of Castello Housing Scheme were terrorized by a bandit who shot and killed one resident of the scheme, Mr. Raymond Singh. The press also carried reports of drive-by shootings and other criminal attacks on citizens.

The crime situation in Guyana has not improved as a result of the actions of the Death Squad and its shameful deeds. All the evidence including the admissions of the GPF is that crime in Guyana including murder is actually on the increase. There is no evidence that any major drug runner or people smuggler has been indicted. The number of mysterious deaths and abductions has shown a worrying increase. Armed robbery including highway robbery in the hinterland has become a part of our landscape. What is not easily remembered is that in the environment of distrust which has emerged, a large proportion of the crime committed in Guyana both serious and otherwise is not reported. In the absence of any action to restore the image of the security apparatus and in the light of the lawlessness now revealed to the Guyanese public, the people have even less incentive to trust the authorities.

The harsh reality is that state terrorism as a means of maintaining law an order is illogical and doomed to failure. The people of Guyana feel even less safe now than at any time in our history. We have noted a flurry of letters emanating from the usual sources and planted in the national newspapers under various pseudonyms trying to justify the crimes and misdemeanors of government ministers as a legitimate weapon against crime. We presume that Papa Doc Duvalier had his letter writers too, justifying the terror wracked by the Tonton macoute on the innocent people of Haiti. The position of the PCNR is clear and unequivocal.
• The PNCR condemns crime, criminals and all forms of lawbreaking.
• We believe that there is no justification for criminal activity by individuals, gangs or the state.
• We are convinced that the best, indeed the only, way to fight crime in Guyana is to strengthen the hands of the police force to arrest and bring to trial criminals of all kinds,
• We believe that dangerous criminals should be dealt with by properly trained and equipped units of the Guyana Police Force
• We believe that all Guyanese should feel safe in their homes and in their places of work regardless of their place of residence, ethnicity, culture or political persuasion.

CORBIN REBUFFS JAGDEO:
It has been two weeks since devastating details about the state-organized death squad were revealed by former insider George Bacchus and the nation is still to fully grasp the degree of illegality, immorality and evil that this enterprise has spawned. As a responsible political party and the alternative government of this country, the PNCR took political action in the interest of the nation by seeking a full and impartial enquiry into the State’s involvement in death squads and other allegations. We also requested a criminal investigation into the spate of murders in Guyana. As a prerequisite, we demanded that incumbent Minister of Home Affairs vacates office to avoid any political interference in such investigation. This matter was first brought to the attention of the acting President, Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, by the Leader of the PNCR and Leader of the Opposition since Friday, January 9, 2004 at a meeting at the Office of the President. At that meeting, the PNCR Leader formally expressed his concerns to the government,

“…over the apparent existence of a “death squad” which operates as hired murderers and allegations that the Minister of Home Affairs, Ronald Gajraj, spearheads this killing squad, said to be responsible for numerous executions over the last year”.

The Prime Minister claimed impotence, in the absence of the President, to do anything. On President Jagdeo’s return, the Leader of the Opposition made a formal request by letter dated January 15, 2004 for an independent enquiry. The letter detailed several allegations which necessitated such an enquiry. It stated, inter alia

 “Irregularities in the issuance of firearms by the Minister of Home Affairs; including bribery and the granting of firearm licences to known felons;
 the formation of several questionable groups, under the guise of Community Policing groups, that have been issued with firearms;
 the existence of death squads alleged to be under the control of senior government functionaries;
 the association of some senior functionaries and these squads in criminal activity, including the narcotic trade;
 the claim that one recent victim of the death squad, Axel Williams, had revealed that a senior government functionary had ordered a “hit” on a businessman; and more recently,
 the revelations of George Bacchus, the confessed informant of the Minister of Home Affairs”.

The response of the government and particularly the President has been most irresponsible. Instead of dealing with the matter decisively, he first claimed that there was insufficient information, albeit, three men have been charged for murder on the basis of the same allegations. Jagdeo’s reply to the Leader of the PNCR requesting formal reports to be sent to the Police is an insult to the intelligence of the Guyanese people and an abdication of his responsibility as President of this Nation. The letter by Mr. Corbin itself provided sufficient basis for any investigation. It is obvious that Jagdeo and the PPP/C government have something to hide and are attempting to intimidate would-be informants by suggesting that further reports should be made to the Police. Mr. Corbin, in his letter to the President particularly emphasized,

“Naturally, many persons who have information would, given the manner of deaths of Axel Williams and Shafeek Bacchus, be afraid to come forward unless there is confidence in any inquiry to be established. The persons so far involved in the, “so-called”, police investigation will be further deterrents. It is also inconceivable that such an investigation can be conducted while the Minister, who is one of the subjects of the investigation, remains the Political head of the investigating agency”.

The PNCR therefore must not indict only Gajraj, but the government itself. Rather than dealing with this matter, we are informed that the government in its efforts to white wash the entire situation is paying a hefty sum of Guyanese tax dollars to a well known, “soup-drinking” and probably now “milk-drinking” public relations CZAR to do the dirty work of trying to convince the populace that the government has done nothing wrong. It is abominable that someone would bury all their professional ethics and forget their morality for the filthy lucre. This mercenary, in accepting the assignment of attempting to brain wash the Guyanese public into over looking the murderous acts of the death squad, is essentially an accessory after the fact to the acts of the members of the death squad. His orchestration of recent letters in the media attacking the character of PNCR leaders to divert attention will not succeed. No one will be influenced by the nonsense contained in these letters and we must not allow ourselves to be side tracked.

THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES:

Credible information points to a large web of illegality involving arming undesirable miscreants, selling firearm licenses, extorting businessmen and women, killing suspected criminals and innocent persons, and terrorizing citizens into submission to the regime’s will. As has been stated before, the charges against this regime extend far beyond one Minister and common sense suggests that if the allegations are proven to be true, then Gajraj must have had the aid and assistance of several high ranking political and government officials.

It is in everyone’s best interest that these allegations be investigated as a matter of urgency. The PNCR asserts that enough has been said which has not been contradicted or explained by the regime. This is untenable and symptomatic of the regime’s continued approach to the litany of scandals that has beset it since coming into office. Time and time again the regime calls for evidence and witnesses when the nation knows that only a credible enquiry will bring out the incontrovertible evidence of illegality and corruption.

The PNCR has pursued a responsible and calculated approach of bringing this matter to the attention of the national, regional and international communities. Our just forms of protest action will continue and increase until our objective of having an investigation without Gajraj in the Minister’s chair is achieved. We will join with all groups, persons and associations whose objective is in consonance with ours. To this end, the Party has agreed to join with a group of concerned Guyanese organizations which met at City Hall and constituted a Committee determined to restore law and order in Guyana and to bring the wrong doers to justice. We support the call for amnesty from prosecution to persons to enable them to come forward with useful evidence.

The PNCR alerts the nation to the commencement of State Repression which is an integral part of any regime that employs death squad. For example, the strange letter from the Police granting permission for the PNCR to hold a public meeting yesterday, but, refusing permission to use a loud speaker to announce the said meeting is a dangerous sign. Further the unexplained blackout of the PNCR headquarters for the last three days is another troubling sign. The PNCR will not, however, allow these attempts to thwart its resolves.

THE STRUGGLES CONTINUES!

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana.
Thursday, January 22, 2004