Police executions can have international consequences

Stabroek News
August 22, 2001

Dear Editor,

Once again, the Guyana Police Force has made the global headlines in light of the recent summary executions. Your own editorial of Sunday, July 29, 2001 highlights the lack of respect for basic human rights.

The Government of Jamaica was recently indicted by the powerful international human rights body - Amnesty International and ever since the release of that report there has been global condemnation of Jamaica's human rights record and a dramatic decrease in the number of tourist arrivals to the island. There have also been cancellations of various arts and entertainment events scheduled for the island and one major international record label has gone as far as advising its roster of artistes not to travel there for video shots because of concern for their public safety. This will no doubt have a disastrous effect on Jamaica's ability to earn scarce foreign exchange in its tourism driven economy.

Amnesty International is an extremely powerful global body and it is widely supported by popstars and Hollywood icons ranging from Sting, Peter Gabriel, U2, & Bryan Adams to Michael Douglas, Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman and Steven Spielberg. The Government and the Guyana Police Force will be out of their league once AI decides to put the pressure on No.10 Downing Street or Ottawa. That could affect foreign development assistance to Guyana. Exports could also be affected.

Respect for global human rights is non-negotiable and it will be a wake-up call should the families and relatives of the deceased seek to institute proceedings against Commissioner Lewis and Crime Chief Floyd McDonald in Miami, New York, Toronto or London for 'gross violation of human rights'. The Spanish legal system only a few years ago had ruled in favour of the extradition of former Chilean President Pinochet to face trial for his alleged complicity in the murder and disappearances of hundreds of Spanish citizens following a civilian lawsuit.

Similarly, it is rather alarming that the local UN office and the OAS office have remained complacently silent in the face of these mounting atrocities against the Guyanese civilian population. Is the EU going to continue to provide funding to a regime that shows very little respect for or concern about the basic human rights of its people? What about the Catholic Church and the Anglican Church in Guyana? They are yet to condemn the latest round of gross human rights abuse.

I publicly urge all those interested in the value of human dignity and with access to the internet to access the website of the leading Jamaican daily, 'The Gleaner' and read the Amnesty International report on Jamaica. I urge the Guyanese public to visit Amnesty International's own website at: www.amnesty.org . Please do send your concerns and comments also to them outlining and documenting your fears and even let then know how you have been treated by the state security in Guyana. The Caribbean human rights body - `Caribbean Watch' also has its own website.

The Governments of Canada, the US and the UK should also consider the immediate suspension of continued foreign aid to Guyana and the immediate cancellation of all diplomatic visas issued to all high ranking state officials from Guyana until there is a full and thorough international investigation of the recent murders committed in the name of the Guyanese state.

In fact, I will even go as far as calling for a concert and national candlelight vigil in Georgetown to signal our nation's tiredness with this sordid state of affairs. It will be useful to have such international Guyanese luminaries as reggae star Eddy Grant (now riding high on the crest of renewed global popularity) lend their support to this venture. If the Guyana Human Rights Association and the local Amnesty International Office in Guyana can arrange the venue etc I will gladly provide the satellite link to telecast it live into the rest of the Caribbean Region.

Those interested and supportive can reach me personally at:


Yours faithfully,

Mike Singh