So many killings and road accidents
Stabroek News
December 7, 2001

Dear Editor,

In a country where less than a million people make up the population, I am appalled at the amount of killings and road accidents that are reported. I am not suggesting that they should not be reported, I just don't understand why there are so many.

I think the heavy handed-ness of the police has been referred to in these pages on a number of occasions. Yet, it continues. Are the police incapable of 'giving chase' without resorting to killing unarmed suspects? I am of course referring to the report of the Jermaine Thomas shooting in SN 5/12/01. And what manner of crime did Thomas commit that warranted this shooting - the report does not suggest anything concrete?

What I mean is, do the police arbitrarily shoot at any suspected criminal who 'runs', and for any given crime for which they are suspect. So that a suspected murderer and a suspected petty thief are one and the same - a criminal is a criminal, a crime is a crime - thus the punishment is the same.

Need I even bring into this the brutal shooting of Brian King who was shot in the mouth by a policeman on Sunday? What is all this? Has there been some kind of marshal law declared in Guyana? What is bitterly ironic in this is that it is the very police who will be leading their own investigations.

I am also troubled by the 'two burnt to death' as a result of the collision between a passenger vehicle and a fuel tank. I wonder what care is being taken to prevent these accidents? Are there any ongoing road safety campaigns? How are we to understand the destruction of traffic lights, also reported? How many people use seat belts? How many cars are road worthy, having been serviced on a regular basis and entered into the country with stiff regulatory requirements about their conditions? What about anti drink-driving this taken seriously in Guyana?

If campaigns are ongoing, they need to be stepped up, especially as it's nearing the season of joy and (yes sometimes) madness, where drinking and merriment may lead to further reports of more deaths and killings. I suppose the care that is needed to prevent these killings starts with the overall appreciation of the value of every life. But if as Guyanese, we do not appreciate ourselves and our sense of who we are, then perhaps it becomes a taken-for-granted fact that ours is a country where every day lives are unnecessarily discarded.

Yours faithfully,

Michelle Stoby