February 17, 2000
Stabroek News

There are known rules of engagement

Dear Sir,

This is a preliminary response to some aspects of the Eccles incident of February 9, 2000.

The WPA offers sympathy to those who suffered injury, lost relatives, or were forced to endure the events of Eccles at close range.

Shooting of an enemy soldier, or of the worst criminal, after that person has accepted an offer of safe conduct and acted on it in trust, is offensive to all that we accept as civilised behaviour. It violates all the known rules of engagement. People who behave in this way can offer no example to persons like London.

It is important that, at these times that try our souls, public statements be helpful, aimed chiefly at preventing the types of crises which give rise to public concern.

Most disappointing is the statement by the ruling Party, the PPP, which has described the London shooting as a professional operation and described the damage done to the Toucan property as "minimal".

The statement shows clearly a one-sided view of events which is unworthy of a ruling party, however strong its mandate in numbers.

The use of the term "professional" is unfortunate and is in fact an abuse of language. The judgment that the operation was professional can only hold water if it is accepted that "wanted dead or alive" means either "shoot at sight" or wanted dead only". At this point both the army and police senior spokespersons have rejected these meanings of the term "wanted dead or alive". The Minister of Home Affairs has been alert enough to remind us of the principle of "minimum force". He argued that this principle was upheld in the circumstances, but it is refreshing that the Minister saw it as an issue. After the Eccles incident, it is an issue that is likely to plague the law enforcement system for some time to come.

The WPA is considering a practical recommendation in pursuit of justice in this latest confrontation.

Yours faithfully,
Eusi Kwayana
for Working People's Alliance