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There is reason to believe Guyana is sliding back into a place where state repression will be executed by the Police Force, dissent will be silenced through state media and private media friendly to the PPP or punishing businesses who advertise with some media outlets.
The nation is already witnessing efforts by the Jagdeo/Ali regime to economically deprived sections of society by trampling basic rights such as freedom of speech, collective bargaining, speedy resolution of industrial disputes, land ownership by coveting ancestral lands, to earn by removing persons off lands they are farming and rearing livestock to lands where they can’t; the withdrawal of state subventions, to name a few.
The recent Wanted Bulletin issued by the Police for Rickford Burke is another repressive step in the PPP’s leadership march to fashion a ‘one Guyana’ that keeps some under their feet and throws crumbs at others as they run rampage on the nation’s resources. The reasons given in the bulletin are not justifiable and moreso cement the growing intolerance for dissenting views and holding the regime to account. Burke is considered a fierce adversary of the government given his outspokenness on issues that border on transgressing of rights, violations of law, and the discriminatory manner the regime distributes the state’s resources. In this regard he is exercising his rights and discharing his civic duty as a citizen of Guyana and the world.
The Force has different standards for different people even though we are all subjected to the Constitution and Laws of Guyana. When Su Zhirong made those damning allegations against Bharrat Jagdeo the police did not see it fitting to call him or Jagdeo to interrogate them or issue a Wanted Bulletin for Su. These men should have been invited by the police for questioning because the allegations made in those VICE News’ stories border on criminality by public officials in collusion with private business interests. Jagdeo, Su and all those persons shown in those tapes are operating in Guyana and subjected to our laws and judicial system.
The police are fast losing credibility when it borders on issues that have political overtones.
The bulletin is an attempt to besmirch Burke’s character with the intent to ultimately cause society, home and abroad, to lose confidence in him and not see him as credible source. The action also has far reaching implications because it aims to cause others, who may have dissenting views, to retreat underground and allow the PPP to either run wild or embark on programmes that involve illegal acts.
Society has to be concerned about the regime using state institutions to silence dissenting and political opponents. If we allow this to continue we will become docile people to our detriment. Dissent helps to build and improve society and keeps the government in check. We cannot allow our thinking and actions to be circumscribed by the political directorate because we will be led by the ruthless and uncaring in our midst and never progress.
Should we be silent in light of the threat to Burke’s fundamental rights it is only a matter of time before they come after all of us. Dissent we must. Wherever and whenever necessary and to whomever.