STATE MURDER & TERRORISM




Canada cancels Home Affairs Minister's visa
Signature Campaign
ALLEGATIONS AGAINST MINISTER RONALD GAJRAJ
GAJRAJ CHIEF STATE TERRORIST
CASE AGAINST GAJRAJ
PEOPLE POWER
GTUC Calls for Transparent Investigation into the Phantom Squad
Statement by the Guyana Public Service Union
TO ALL PATRIOTIC GUYANESE
PNCR Leader Letter to the PPP on Ronald Gajraj
A SOLUTION TO THE PHANTOM FORCE IS ESSENTIAL
Public Forum
Statement by the working People's Alliance
Statement by Eusi Kwayana on Recent Events in Guyana
PNCR Leader writes to the Commissioner of Police

Canada cancels Home Affairs Minister's visa


The People's National Congress Reform began the acceleration of its campaign to force the government to mount an investigation into the alleged existence of death squads, under the control of officials of the government, and other allegations brought to the President’s attention in the letter, dated January 15, 2004 by PNCR Leader, Mr. Robert Corbin,. The PNCR had hoped that the President, having seen and read the many statements of social, political and economic organisations, would have (by now) caused the Minister of Home Affairs to demit office to facilitate an independent investigation.

The People's National Congress Reform considers the call by the President and the Commissioner of Police (ag) for information to be forwarded to them as a big hoax. The President must be aware of the many allegations and the acting Commissioner of Police, if indeed he is carrying out his constitutional duties, should have been happy for a breakthrough to undertake an investigation into the 40 odd unsolved murders in the past few weeks.

The PNCR, therefore, views the claim by President Jagdeo that there is not a shred of evidence as an insult to the people of Guyana. We applaud the Canadian government for taking action in this matter and we are sure that many other oganisations feel likewise.

The PNCR will continue its campaign, both locally and internationally, to prevent the development of a more repressive regime in Guyana and we would urge other countries that are concerned about human rights abuses in Guyana, to follow the lead of the Canadian government and ban the Minister of Home Affairs from entering their countries until the government of Guyana mounts an independent investigation into these alleged human rights abuses.


People's National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana.
January 27, 2004



Signature Campaign

The People's National Congress Reform will be accelerating its signature campaign throughout Guyana calling on the government to mount transparent investigation into the Death Squad allegations and for the Minister of Home Affairs to vacate his office to avoid interference into any such inquiry. The signature campaign in Georgetown will be conducted in conjunction with a series of community meetings which have been scheduled for this week culminating with a Public Meeting, at the end of General Council, at the Well Site, Mandela Avenue on Saturday January 31, 2004 at 6:00 p.m.
Date Venue Time
Wednesday 28th Jan., 2004 Second Street, Agricola 6:30 p.m.
Wednesday 28th Jan., 2004 “C” Field, Sophia 5:30 p.m.
Thursday 29th Jan., 2004

1. James & Barr Street, Albouystown.
2. Last Entrance, North Ruimveldt

5:30 p.m.

6:30 p.m.
Friday 30th Jan., 2004 William & Queen Sts., Kitty 6:30 p.m.
Friday 30th Jan., 2004 Turning Point, Tucville, La penitence. 6:30 p.m.
Friday 30th Jan., 2004 Robb & Bourda Streets 5:30 p.m.
Saturday 31st Jan., 2004 Well Site & Mandela Ave., Ruimveldt. 6:00 p.m.

At these meetings citizens will be encourage to sign the petition.

People's National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia
January 26, 2004

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ALLEGATIONS OF INVOLVEMENT IN MURDER LEVELLED AGAINST MINISTER RONALD GAJRAJ.
THE FACTS:

1.

There has been an extraordinary rate of unusual killings within the last 12-14 months.
2.

Secretary to the Cabinet Dr. Roger Luncheon stated in a weekly Cabinet Briefing on November 27, 2002 that there was a squad of killers which he dubbed a Phantom Squad.” In his own words he stated: “There seems to be reasonable plausible evidence which suggests that there is a body out there that has been involved in criminal activities and it is not the escapees…Intelligence agencies are examining the possibility that there is a phantom body involved in a number of killings.”
3.

The persons carrying out the killings as executioners have been described by numerous witnesses as having “big” guns and wearing police uniforms.
4.

Every citizen and resident of Guyana is aware that there is a group or groups that appear to be targeting and executing persons. Some of the persons targeted were known to have a criminal past but many killings appeared inexplicable.
5.

The Police Force has continually issued disclaimers following several shootings as to their non-involvement and the steps citizens should take to protect themselves against abduction and killing. For example, in the August 2003 slaying of Lennox Barker and Ron Barker at Vergenoegen, East Bank Essequibo, the police force issued a statement that it was not in anyway involved in the shootings.
6.

In an October 26, 2003 interview to the press as reported by the Associated Press (11/03/03) Crime Chief Leon Trim is quoted as saying: “We are not sure exactly what is going on. People are being picked up, bundled into cars and end up dead on the streets.” He went on to say that the force was baffled by the killings.
7.

On Wednesday, December 10, 2003 former police officer Axel Williams was gunned down in Eping Avenue, Bel Air Park, Georgetown raising speculation about problems within the Phantom Squad. Williams was widely regarded as one of the key operatives within the squad.
8.

In Kaieteur News of Monday, December 15, 2003 a story is carried in which a “prominent and controversial” businessman states that he is the target of a death squad under the direct superintendence of a High Official being the Minister of Home Affairs. He claims further, that Axel Williams was the person ordered to execute him by the Minister of Home Affairs and that prior to his death, Williams confessed to him the plot. This businessman is widely believed to be Bramanand Nandalall.
9.

On Friday, December 19, 2003 the Minister of Home Affairs denies any relationship with Axel Williams or Sean Hinds, alleged members of the death squad. He claimed to know Williams only through a casual contact when he visited the Ministry in pursuit of a firearm licence. He is quoted as saying: “Yes I did know Axel Williams. He had come to see me on more than one occasion at the Ministry of Home Affairs. As a matter of fact, at the time he had had a problem. He used to be a taxi driver and he had made an application for a licensed firearm…his application was processed and approval for a licence was issued to him…I do not have any personal relationship with any of the individuals.”
10.

The Minister of Home Affairs in a Stabroek News Current Affairs supplement of December, 2003states that there is no such thing as a death squad but persons killing each other for revenge.
11.

On Saturday, January 3, 2004, Kaieteur News carries a story giving details of not insubstantial telephone contact between Minister Gajraj and Axel Williams. (See copy of phone records attached.)
12.

On Monday January 5, 2004 Mr. Shafeek Bacchus was shot by a person or persons in a white vehicle whilst at his home in Hadfield Street, Lodge, Georgetown.
13.

On Tuesday January 6, 2004 the brother of Shafeek Bacchus (George Bacchus) goes to the US Embassy accompanied by Mr. C. A. Nigel Hughes, Attorney-at-Law and makes serious allegations and statements about the existence, structure and operations of a “death squad” which in his words has been responsible for the deaths of over 40 persons including that of his brother Shafeek Bacchus.
14.

An official complaint is also made to the Guyana Police Force and to Amnesty International on Tuesday January 6, 2004.
15.

The US Embassy subsequently releases a statement that its officers met with and took statements from Mr. Bacchus and these are being explored.
16.

In the Kaieteur News of January 7, 2004 there is the text of a statement given by Mr. Bacchus to the media, which repeats the claim that a senior official (Minister of Home Affairs) has knowledge of the death squad.
17.

Minister Gajraj on Friday January 9, 2004 in an ad hoc interview at the Office of the President refutes Bacchus’ claims but does not deny the telephone contact with Axel Williams, which he likens to, that he has with many other citizens.
18.

On Friday January 9, 2004 the Brickdam Police Station arrests and detains two men namely Ashton King (proprietor of A&D Funeral Home, Cemetery Road, Georgetown), and Mark Thomas aka Kazorski (former member of the Guyana Police Force, Black Clothes Squad, and Manager of Auby’s Wine Bar, George Street, Werk-en-Rust) for questioning.
19.

On Monday January 12, 2003 George Bacchus at the request of the Investigating Officer (I.O.) attends the Brickdam Police Station for a “confrontation” with the members of the death squad who he accuses of killing his brother. No confrontation is held because it is determined that if it purely a matter of identification a confrontation is unnecessary.
20.

On Wednesday, January 13, 2004, a third member of the death squad Sean Hinds is arrested by the police.
21.

Minister Gajraj has not been asked to provide a statement or been charged with committing any offences.


THE PNCR’S POSITION:
Given that the Guyana Police Force has acted on George Bacchus’ allegations and arrested several men, the legal situation facing them is that they could be charged with the offence of murder of Shafeek Bacchus and any other person named by George Bacchus under section 100 of the Criminal Law (Offences) Act, Chapter 8:01. The fact that the Police Force has chosen to act on the statement means that they cannot decide to act on some of what was said and not on others.

Minister Gajraj has been named in the statement upon which the police is basing its investigation into the other men detained. He remains in office during the conduct of a police investigation in which he could legally be considered a principal or accessory to murder depending on the available evidence. Of great significance as well is the fact that Ronald Gajraj is Minister of Home Affairs making him the government official with overall responsibility of for the Police Force. The appearance of impropriety is great even if not actually established, given the known relationship between the Minister of Home Affairs and the Police Force. The PNCR is very comfortable in its call for the resignation of the Minister pending a criminal investigation. It is the only morally and legally correct thing to do in the circumstances. The cumulative effect of the facts set out above are sufficient in the considered opinion of the PNCR to warrant a full and impartial criminal investigation of all persons named including Ronald Gajraj.

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GAJRAJ CHIEF STATE TERRORIST

* Luncheon named them the Phantom Killers
* He concealed that Gajraj was their ‘leader’
* This the Guyanese people knew
* Not so the PPP few
* The PPP is fighting crime with crimes of their own
* Its ill effects on Guyana are well known.
* About a dead Phantom Killer, Gajraj lied
* For state crimes, on the Phantom Gang he relied
* Gajraj issued legal firearms to the murderers arsenal
* Gajraj is himself a criminal
* Accomplice to many crimes
* This is an unwanted sign of our times.
* A criminal should never be responsible for our Police Force
* For decent people will have no recourse
* Gajraj and the Phantom Gang may be the executors
* The PPP and Jagdeo are the real perpetrators
* It is part of the PPP political strategy
* It is a tragedy that is destroying our country.
* Crime and criminals must go
* Gajraj and the PPP included, we all must know
* The decent thing for them to do is to [GO, GO]
* Jagdeo, Gajraj and the PPP, decency they do not know
* To no one will this sound strange
* You the people alone can make a change
* For Guyana to return to decency
* It has to rid itself of the PPP.

DEMAND AN END TO STATE TERRORISM

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SPEAKERS’ BRIEF: THE CASE AGAINST GAJRAJ



* Established and utilizes a DEATH SQUAD which resulted in a reign of STATE TERROR.
* Operated a criminal enterprise that committed murder for profit, revenge and pleasure.
* Lied and killed to protect his criminal enterprise.
* He has been implicated in other forms of crime, including illegal drugs and drug trafficking.
* Illegal issuances of gun licenses, work permits and passports for personal profits – a clear indication of his venality.
* He is the CHIEF ARCHITECT OF STATE TERRORISM
* He is a known felon who was court-martialed for embezzlement.
* He abuses his ministerial power regarding the “administration” of the Guyana Police Force thereby eroding the Police Force’s ability to deal effectively with organised crime.
* Contributed significantly to the EROSION of the RULE OF LAW in Guyana.


The PNCR makes the following demands:


1. Gajraj must resign immediately. There could never be an independent

inquiry if Gajraj is on the job.

2. The dismantling of the DEATH SQUAD
3. That there be criminal prosecution of Gajraj
4. An end to STATE TERRORISM.
5. That Gajraj be considered unsuitable for public office in the future.



PNCR ACTIVITIES:


* PICKETING
* SIGNATURE CAMPAIGN
* SENSTISING THE NATION THROUGH -
o PAMPHLETS
o TELEVISION PROGRAMMES
o NEWS PAPER ADVERTISEMENTS
o PRESS BRIEFINGS

* POLITICAL MEETINGS
* MOBILISATION OF FAMILY & FRIENDS OF VICTIMS
* CAMPAIGN TO DE-RECOGNISE GAJRAJ UNTIL HE RESIGNS
* ENGAGE THE DIPLOMATIC COMMUNITY

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People Power

The PNCR and ACDA have called the people to come out in their numbers to demonstrate their disapproval of Ronald Gajraj as Minister of Home Affairs. They will be massing outside of the Ministry in Brickdam from midday today. The people have become outraged that allegations are surfacing suggesting that Gajraj is head of a killer squad. These allegations came up after the brother of slain Shaffeek Bacchus, George, went to the US Embassy and spilled the beans on this state sponsored death squad. George also mentioned that a group of Indian businessmen were involved in setting up this squad with Gajraj and helped to fund it and furnish it with weapons.

Investigations by Kaieteur News discovered that Minister Gajraj had lied at a press conference when he said that he only new slain phantom member Axel Williams as a mere acquaintance when Williams had approached him for a gun license. Subsequent phone records revealed that the two were in contact more than 120 times by cell and land phones. It was also odd that Gajraj should issue gun licenses, since that is under the control of the Commissioner of Police. There have also been reports alleging Gajraj selling and personally handing out these licenses. Now Gajraj is admitting that he knew Williams much more but says his conversations with him is of a National Security nature and can say no more. Investigations have revealed that Williams, an ex-cop was responsible for murdering a Rasta vendor for demanding a $20.00 payment for food he bought. He was never charged. He was also responsible for several other murders.

In trying to parry this obvious embarrassing situation, Gajraj told the Press that any Tom, Dick and Harry can make allegations which can lead to suspicions and speculation and what is coming up is just politicking. But the PNCR is saying that it is vindicating the party for the PPP/C was always claiming the opposition was engaged with the criminals. Other organisations such as ACDA and the GPSU have been saying the same thing. And it vindicates the Talk show hosts, Roger Moore, Basil Bradshaw and Clem David, who Barrat Jagdeo was claiming that they were being financed by the criminals. People are now calling for the resignation of the whole party since collective cabinet responsibility is involved here. If these allegations are founded to be true then Gajraj is also guilty of the deaths of a number of innocent persons including more than twenty policemen. There are also suggestions that he should be arrested and charged for treason since he lied under oath. Gajraj was once court marshaled for stealing the GDF payroll. He was dishonorably discharged and bounded to the civilian court where he was found guilty he was freed on a technicality after a second appeal.

The organizers of the protest are asking the demonstrators to watch out for ppp thugs who may want to disrupt the protest and switch it to an ethnic situation. Mean while there is a deafening silence coming out from Ravi Dev, Ryan Shah. Bishop Edghill. The IAC and other Indian organisations that were misleading the public claiming that the violence and criminality was purely an ethnic one.

Roger Moore
Monday, January 12, 2004

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GTUC Calls for Transparent Investigation into the Phantom Squad

The Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) has dispatched a letter to his Excellency the President calling for an “immediate, transparent and thorough investigation” into allegations of the existence of an officially-sanctioned Phantom Squad assigned to perpetuate extra-judicial killings at the highest of the ruling political administration. The GTUC’s letter also calls for the removal of the incumbent from the position of minister of Home Affairs. The GTUC has also notified the President of its intention “to mount a vigorous lobby both at home and abroad” to ensure that the allegations of state-sponsored murder are investigated to the full satisfaction of the Guyanese people.

The Phantom Squad allegations raise profound questions about the government’s commitment to its constitutional obligation to safeguard the lives of the citizens of Guyana. Unless those allegations are dispelled to the satisfaction of the citizenry, the government could forfeit both their trust and their goodwill, thereby rendering its position untenable.

Official responses have sought to relegate the allegations to the realm of mere rumor. There can, however, be no question that considerable and, in the circumstances, credible information on this matter has already been placed in the public domain. The GTUC notes, for example that allegations of a state-sponsored Phantom Squad coincide with a recent spate of unexplained murders and disappearances of persons who are alleged to have had criminal backgrounds. Additionally, verifiable records provide evidence of sustained telephone communication between a senior administration official and a now deceased individual who has been linked in the Phantom Squad. These circumstances alone more than justify the insistence of the Guyanese people that there be a full and transparent public enquiry.

The GTUC is also concerned that insofar as speculation persists about the existence or otherwise of the so-called Phantom Squad, individuals who may, justifiably or otherwise, consider themselves likely or potential targets, will continue to be deeply apprehensive if not downright fearful. Whatever the government’s evaluation of the veracity of the available information, therefore, the circumstances dictate that there be an immediate and thorough enquiry into the allegations.

The government’s immediate response to the Phantom Squad charges suggests that it may be inclined to attempt to “wish away” the allegations. If this is indeed the case, it should think again. In this context, the GTUC wishes to state that it will associate itself with public pressure as may become necessary to compel the government to bend to the will of the people.

While the rules of diplomatic intercourse prohibit the direct intervention by foreign governments and international organisations, at least one resident diplomatic mission has already become involved in this matter. We strongly believe that those countries and international agencies that subscribe to democratic norms have a duty to apply intense pressure through the appropriate channels to cause the government to provide a satisfactory response to the charges that have been laid at its door.

Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC)
January 12th, 2004


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Guyana Public Service Union
Statement on the brutal shooting and murder of Students of the University of Guyana by criminal elements in the Guyana Police Force


The apparent assassination of Yohance Douglas and the seriously wounding of Ronson Grey by members of the Police Force, makes it extremely difficult for one to believe that the extra judicial killing of young black men does not have the sanction of the administration.

There seems to be a belief held by members of our police force that any young man driving a motor vehicle is a criminal and the way to deal with criminals is to hunt them down, and shoot them like dogs. It seems that a wanted poster has been circulated among the ranks of the Guyana Police Force which reads:

WANTED
DEAD OR ALIVE (PREFERABLE DEAD)
ALL YOUNG BLACK MEN DRIVING A MOTOR CAR

An interesting comment was made on channel 28, Evening News on Monday night in reference to the shooting of the young men, that it was dangerous for a black man to be living in Guyana at this time. The comment was made by a former member of the judiciary who significantly was not Black. That comment should obviously raise the eyebrows of those members of our cabinet who seem to be oblivious or insensitive to the slaughter of young black men by members of our police force.

Notwithstanding that, we cannot overlook the recent killings of policemen by the criminal elements of our society. Nevertheless, such incident can in no way justify our policemen utilizing the methods of the criminal in their efforts to curb the unprecedented high level of criminal activity now prevalent in our society. One should not overlook, however, that the gunning down of our policemen, may well be due to a brief amongst the criminal element, that our policemen are out to kill them, having tried, convicted and sentenced them to death. So in turn, the criminal must kill those who are out to kill them. The history of crime fighting informs us that the more brutal the police, the more vicious the criminal.

It is the firm opinion of the Guyana Public Service Union that a halt must be made to the killings of our people by the police outside of the parameters of the law. Efficient measures must be introduced to apprehend suspected criminals and bring them before the Courts. Unfortunately, the image of our police force has been seriously tarnished and no effort must be speared to change that image.

The killing of Yohance Douglas must not go unpunished. Our union has been calling for an independent Commission of Inquiry to investigate the functioning of the Police Force for the longest while. We recall the shooting of our members in May 1999 at John Fernandes Wharf and the savage beating of nurses at the Georgetown Hospital gate, all by those who had sworn to protect and uphold the law, also during our strike in 1999.



We call for


1.

The immediate removal of the Minister of Home Affairs and the acting Commissioner of Police.
2.

The appointment of a Commission of Inquiry headed by a member of the Judiciary from one of our sister CARICOM states.
3.

An independent Prosecutor, agreed on by the Government, the Opposition and the Bar Association, to prosecute those charged with the unlawful killing of Yohance Douglas and the wounding of others on that tragic morning of Saturday 1st March 2003.

Guyana Public Service Union
160 Regent & New Garden Streets,
BOURDA
GEORGETOWN
5th March, 2003.

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To All Patriotic Guyanese, especially Friends and Supporters of the People's National Congress Reform

You are no doubt aware of the serious crisis of governance facing Guyana, especially since the disclosures of the government’s involvement in a ‘Death Squad’ called the ‘Phantom Force’.

The key figure named as heading this operation is Mr Ronald Gajraj, the current Minister of Home Affairs.

The People's National Congress Reform and many other organisations in Guyana have condemned this activity and called for the immediate resignation of Mr. Gajraj and for an inquiry and criminal investigations into the allegations.

Picketing exercises have been continuing in front of the Ministry of Home Affairs by concerned citizens of Guyana and will be joined by the People's National Congress Reform tomorrow, Thursday January 15, 2004,

The government has remained adamant and the Minister of Home Affairs has not yet resigned.

We cal on all Guyanese, friends and supporters to bring this state of affairs to the attention of all governments, agencies and organisations overseas so that they may put pressure on the Guyanese government for Mr Gajraj to resign or be dismissed and mount an independent investigation.

Guyanese may also show their disapproval at all Guyanese Embassies and Missions abroad by sending letters of protest and if possible arrange picketing exercises.

We have attached information on this situation which will assist in understanding the seriousness of the crisis facing Guyana.

January 14, 2004

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PNCR Leader Letter to the PPP on Ronald Gajraj


January 15, 2004

His Excellency Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo
President of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana
Office of the President
Vlissengen Road & New Garden Street
Georgetown

On Friday January 9, 2004, at a meeting with Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, in the presence of the Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Luncheon, I brought to the attention of the then acting President some grave concerns of many Guyanese, particularly those of my Party. The concerns were 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. I enquired then whether any steps would be made by your Administration to have these serious allegations investigated and suggested that it would be inappropriate for the Minister Of Home Affairs to remain in Office while those investigations were in progress. Inappropriate, because he is the Political Head of the Investigation Agency and also the subject of some of the allegations. I was advised that, while the allegations were serious, nothing could be done before your return from India. In this context, I did not place any significance on the statement from the Office of the President in your absence.

I believe that you may now be aware of these very grave allegations before and after the revelations / confessions of an informant and squad associate. You must have also been briefed on the national outrage caused by these revelations and the public statements issued by many Guyanese organizations calling for an independent inquiry and a criminal investigation into these matters.

Guyanese have been expressing concerns about the extraordinary rate of unusual killings, particularly over the last year. The Guyana Police Force issued several public statements disassociating themselves from these killings. Throughout this period, there have been several allegations in the public domain about:

*

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.

Recently, the Minister of Home Affairs in a response to queries from the media, claimed only a casual acquaintance with Axel Williams, an alleged former member of the death squad, in the context of an application by Williams for a firearm licence, which was issued. The issue of that firearm licence should by itself warrant a serious investigation in the context of earlier allegations. However, more serious were the later revelations in the media of telephone records showing that the said Axel Williams, who was gunned down on December 10, 2003, had made several calls to the Ministry of Home Affairs and to the home of the Minister and that he, the Minister, had in turn made several calls to the cell phone of the said gang member. [I may add that I have seen these telephone records] When confronted with the undisputed records, the Minister abandoned pretence and sought to cast a security veneer over the telephone conversations.

For ease of reference, I direct your attention to the Kaieteur News of January 7, 2004, January 9-10, 2004 and January 11, 2004 and to the Stabroek News of January 8, 2004. A review of video clips of the Minister of Home Affairs aired on the local television channels may also be instructive.

Did the Minister of Home Affairs first lie to the nation on this matter, and if so, for what reason? How reliable could any further statement from the Minister be, especially in relation to these matters of concern to the Nation? Surely this must be a matter of concern to your Government.

I wish to emphasise that the issue is neither informant George Bacchus nor the police investigation of the murder of Shafeek Bacchus, even though, George Bacchus’ statements corroborate previous statements made by others and also provides a plausible explanation of the otherwise unexplained spate of killings. Rather, the issue is, about whether the rule of law is being upheld or are we heading for anarchy?

May I also point out that PNCR intelligence reports suggest that the revelations made so far are but, the “tip of the iceberg”. Indeed we have received information which suggest that there is more than one of these death squads and that a senior functionary of the Police Force has been working with the Minister in, “handling”, these squads. 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.

These shocking and frightening developments are harmful to the image of our country, inimical to the attraction of investment and damaging to the general development of the society. The very foundations of law and order and of democracy are being severely undermined. Consequently, I am of the view that the calls for the immediate resignation of the Minister of Home Affairs, who at the very minimum, has been caught lying to the nation, are justifiable on both moral and legal grounds.

The people of Guyana and the international community are aware of your Government’s statements on strengthening the democratic process in Guyana, on promoting the observance of law and order in and by the State and on creating the conditions for good governance, all of which together will contribute to a bright future for Guyana. In these circumstances the Nation expects that your Government will act responsibly at this time.

I wish, therefore, to encourage you to act with decisiveness to establish a truly independent inquiry, which will have the confidence of all stake-holders in Guyana, to investigate the matters which I have herein brought to your attention. Naturally, I also believe that as a prerequisite, you will ensure that the incumbent Minister of Home affairs, by whatever means, vacates office.

The Nation awaits your action.

Yours sincerely
ROBERT H. O. CORBIN
Leader of the People's National Congress Reform &
Leader of the Parliamentary Opposition

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A SOLUTION TO THE PHANTOM FORCE IS ESSENTIAL

The ‘phantom force’ phenomenon emerged towards the end of 2002 in retaliation for the violence suffered largely by Indo-Guyanese citizens on the East Coast which the police were unable to contain. Whatever the original rationale, it has spawned an upsurge of predominantly Afro-Guyanese murders which do not have normal criminal characteristics.

The casual, not to say smug, resistance by the Government to the mounting evidence of methodical murders by elements operating with impunity is courting a serious breakdown in law and order. Since October 28 2002 when the first such killings occurred – seven in one day - the Government has never successfully - or vigorously - dispelled the belief that a gang operating in collusion, or with the tacit blessing of the authorities has been systematically eliminating people. Compared to 142 murders in 2002, 2003 recorded 193 according to police sources.

Evidence of the existence of what Dr. Luncheon, the Government spokesman, first referred to as a ‘phantom force’ has been steadily accumulating. Evidence includes the following:

*

A sustained upsurge in contract killings i.e. crimes in which the only act is the murder of a specific person or persons.
*

The prior involvement with the law of many of the victims.
*

Failure of the GPF to take the phenomenon seriously – no wanted photos, nor appeals for public assistance,
*

The Guyana Police Force coined the revealing term ‘anti-crime’ phantom gang in reference to the group. The term inadvertently surfaced in the GPF submission to the Disciplined Forces Commission (DFC) but the Crime Chief quickly agreed to it being suppressed after being questioned by the Commission why ‘anti-crime’ rather than ‘pro-crime’.
*

Statements in the DFC Interim Report to the effect that ‘there is considerable anecdotal evidence suggesting there is a practice of ‘organised killings’ underway”.
*

Acknowledged communications between the Minister of Home Affairs and elements allegedly involved in the murders.
*

Allegations by George Bacchus of involvement by members of the GPF and also himself in the phantom gangs he claims are now trying to kill him.

The credibility of George Bacchus is not the issue. His recent claims are the final straw, not the first. The issue is that the only cogent explanation available to date for a large number of deaths appears to be the passive or active involvement of elements of the GPF operating under the direction and protection of senior government or ruling party figures.

The pretence of insufficient evidence to warrant a serious independent investigation as a first step can no longer be sustained.

In a healthy democracy an enquiry into unexplained deaths, ring-fenced from possible political interference, would be the obvious response. Regrettably, the Government has chosen - to borrow a football phrase - to ‘play the man rather than play the ball’ - by focusing on George Bacchus, rather than the real issue, namely, the scandalous number of deaths. They have responded politically, berating the opposition and belittling the evidence, when what is desperately needed is a vigorous and independent legal response. In continuing to resist the legal path the Government is marginalizing the likelihood of a peaceful resolution of this issue. Not only will elements of the Afro-Guyanese community continue to be exposed to murderous gangs, but also the Indo-Guyanese community in general is vulnerable to retaliation. Moreover, failure to act encourages other forms of vigilantism and lawlessness.

Equally unfortunately, the major opposition, while legitimately calling for an enquiry into the deaths has adopted a similar tactic, focusing predominantly on the man - in the person of the Minister of Home Affairs - rather than mobilizing around the issue. Notwithstanding the range of new constitutional mechanisms and Commissions available and the constructive engagement initiative, within the course of a week the issue has reverted to a test of strength between the two parties.

The Guyana Human Rights Association is calling on the Government to address the phantom phenomenon in a manner that will:

1.

Serve the interests of justice
2.

Re-invigorate the independence of the GPF
3.

Allay the fears of the population in general that the society is slipping into the hands of organized crime
4.

Strengthen the fledgling constitutional arrangements
5.

Lay the foundation for a more stable peace.

Executive Committee
Guyana Human Rights Association
January 15 2004

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Public Forum

On the invitation of the Leader of the Parliamentary Opposition, Mr. Robert H.O. Corbin, M.P., more than one hundred persons (100) from some seventeen (17) organisations, representing Civil Society, gathered in an Open Forum in the Concert Hall of City Hall, on Tuesday January 20, 2004, to discuss the serious crisis of governance facing Guyana.

This group, comprising representatives from the trade unions, business community, religious bodies, social organisations as well as political parties focused on the mounting evidence of state-sponsored murder and violence in Guyana. Those present agreed that enough evidence existed in the public domain to warrant an urgent and independent investigation. They noted that based on the same allegations made by the informant capital charge of murder was brought against three alleged death squad members. It shows that the allegations have some grounding in fact and therefore should be investigated fully by the police. This group, straddling the social and political divide in the country noted, with great concern, that the President of Guyana, although returning from an overseas trip for sometime now, has not made a public statement on the issue.

The forum agreed that this situation cannot be tolerated and that the Minister should resign from public office and allow a fair and independent investigation to be carried out. The representatives of Civil Society pledged to work together to return the rule of law and a sense of decency to the Guyana society and to put an end to the use of phantom groups and death squads in Guyana.

A group of ten (10) organisations volunteered to form a steering committee to plan the way forward and will meet in caucus on Wednesday, January 21, 2004, at 4:30 p.m., at City Hall.


People’s national Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana.
Wednesday, January 21, 2004

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Statement by the working People's Alliance

The WPA views the recent revelations by Mr. Shafeek Bacchus that he was part of a killing squad operated by a minister of government and the media revelations of phone contact between Minister Gajraj and an alleged member of the squad as a most significant development. Even for those who suspected that such groups exist, the alleged involvement of top government and state functionaries must be cause for serious concern about the future of Guyana. When top government officials in their official capacities are linked to the systematic execution of citizens outside the ambit of the law, it brings into focus the government’s right to manage the affairs of the state. Criminilisation of the state is perhaps the worst plight to be visited on a country.

The WPA has its own views on whether the President and other government leaders have knowledge of this operation, but we reserve public judgment until we hear from them. We, therefore, call on the President and the rest of the cabinet to distance themselves from this minister and any other of their colleagues who may be involved by relieving them of their positions and subjecting them to the scrutiny of law. Failure to urgently do so would lead the WPA to conclude that the President and his cabinet have been complicit in this scheme.

We take no comfort in being the predictors of the worse, but the WPA has long warned, and we do so again, that political gang warfare is a most undesirable development in our politics that has no place in any decent society. Professor Clive Thomas, in a series of articles in the Stabroek News, has publicly drawn attention to the criminalization of the state.

WPA, in a preliminary caution to the government, warns that a cavalier attitude to revelations of the killing squads could definitely lead to retaliations which in turn would turn the entire country into a killing field. It is our strong view that the strongest possible pressure should be brought to bear on the government by all sections of the society, including members and supporters of the ruling party. In this regard we welcome the PNC’s militant stance. We however feel that the broadest coalition of forces should rally to the cause and treat this matter as a national disaster. WPA therefore calls on all organizations, political and civic, to individually and collectively confront this situation.


Working People’s Alliance (WPA)

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Statement by Eusi Kwayana on Recent Events in Guyana
The present protests against the ruling party in Guyana, if they remain non-violent can be justified not only on legitimate political grounds, but on moral grounds and in defence of the rule of law.

The only official enjoying immunity from criminal proceedings is the President. The elected Official recently accused of condoning and counseling high felonies enjoys no legal immunity under the law.

The diplomats who received the information should pass it on to the Commissioner of Police and the Director of Public Prosecutions. If these officials do not act, or while they are considering it, a Citizen is free to lay an appropriate criminal charge against the official, based on legal advice.

If the government denies the accusations, it has a duty of charging the informant Mr. Bacchus with a public mischief and the honourable gentleman should file civil proceedings to protect his reputation.The PNC/R has just revealed that the police are investigating lesser suspects.All will await the next moves from Freedom House.

Any of these courses of action will open the matter and allow the cleansing process to begin. It has to begin somewhere. For my part, I would leave the issue of the elected official's resignation to the Cabinet. It will depend on their degree of comfort with the allegations. They have ignored similar allegations, not in writing, in the past and may have a stomach for such an atmosphere.

One helpful precedent is that of Rabbi Washington, who has handed over by the government he claimed to support.

On similar allegations in 2000 the ruling party over-ruled the President who had promised an investigation.

Murder will out, whether committed by persons in power or by persons out of power.

It is time not for war, but for a penetrating and wide-ranging probe into the allegations of crime and complicity in crime against the government of the day. Guyanese must ensure that our country no longer remains the political cemetery of the Caribbean regardless of the party in power.

With respect,
Eusi Kwayana

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PNCR Leader writes to the Commissioner of Police

On Thursday January 22, 2004, at approximately 4:19 p.m., the Leader of the People's National Congress Reform and Leader of the Opposition received a letter from the Commissioner of Police, however before the receipt of this letter, members of the media had been aware of its contents and had been in touch with Mr. Corbin in relation to his response to that letter.

In view of this breach of ethics, the PNCR feels obligated to release to the media his response to the Commissioner of Police.

Please find attached Mr. Corbin’s response.

People's National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia
Georgetown, Guyana.
Friday, January 23, 2004

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

January 22, 2004


Mr. Floyd Mc Donald, DSM
Commissioner of Police, (ag.)
Office of the Commissioner
Eve Leary, Kingston,
Georgetown


I wish to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated January 22, 2004, under the caption “Allegations made by George Bacchus”. In that letter you stated that the President had informed you that in a letter to him dated January 15, 2004, I indicated that I have, “information/ intelligence in relation to the operation of several ‘Death Squads’ and the complicity of State Functionaries”. You also invited me to make available to you “whatever intelligence or reports you may have in your possession in order to facilitate a proper, professional and transparent investigation into these allegations”.

First, let me say that the caption of your letter is unfortunately misleading. The concerns which I expressed to the President were 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.” For ease of reference I have attached a copy of my letter to the President.

Paragraph 3 of my letter states,


“Guyanese have been expressing concerns about the extraordinary rate of unusual killings, particularly over the last year. The Guyana Police Force issued several public statements disassociating themselves from these killings. Throughout this period, there have been several allegations in the public domain about:

*

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.”


I refuse to believe that as Commissioner of Police responsible for the security of this nation you are unaware of these serious matters.

May I also attract your attention to paragraph 8 of my letter which states inter alia,

“Indeed we have received information which suggests that there is more than one of these death squads and that a senior functionary of the Police Force has been working with the Minister in, “handling”, these squads. 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.”


If my letter is fully understood you would appreciate that your letter to me is quite premature since I am unaware of the establishment of any truly independent body to investigate these matters. I have also not seen any action taken in response to the prerequisite stated in my letter that the incumbent Minister should demit Office to avoid interference in any such investigation

Instead of wasting time and valuable tax payers’ money pursuing the political agenda of your masters, you should be carrying out your Constitutional mandate of spearheading proper policing efforts to compile the evidence that we all know is available and already in the public domain.

Yours sincerely
ROBERT H. O. CORBIN
Leader of the People's National Congress Reform &
Leader of the Parliamentary Opposition

c.c. The President of Guyana

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