Those neighbourly hands

Guyana Chronicle
April 15, 2001

THE HOPE this Easter weekend is that there will be a cessation to the mindless racial attacks on innocent people, the violence and destruction that have been a pattern within the past two weeks, and that, together, Guyanese of all ethnic groups and political affiliation can enjoy the peace they deserve and get on with their lives.

Preaching hate and engaging in acts of lawlessness may be easy for a minority. But like the majority who often suffer in silence, this minority - whether representing the lunatic fringe of a party, or comprising an integral part of its extra-parliamentary tactics for power - also, inevitably, come to suffer the consequences of their foolish deeds.

As Christians and their fellow citizens of other faiths observe this Easter festival, they must be wondering what kind of politics would drive some to engage in cowardly, scurrilous attack even against religious leaders. For instance, Anglican Bishop Randolph George and Bishop Juan Edghill, the current chairman of the Guyana Council of Churches.

What manner of politics, what agenda there is to explain the criminal attempt to burn down St. George's Cathedral, a most cherished national heritage for all Guyanese?

Who benefits from the destruction by fire, amid the chants from "slow fire to more fire"? Not even the arsonists and perpetrators of violence.

Those residents in Georgetown who have had to scramble whatever little they could save of personal belongings, some earned over years of hard work and sacrifice, belong to different ethnic groups and, undoubtedly, have varying political loyalties.

Amid the mayhem created by those driven by their own anger and frustration, there are countless stories of Guyanese reaching out and looking out for each other, across ethnic and party lines.

They are the real heroes and heroines of this country, the people who rallied to put out the fires of the arsonists and help save properties and lives. Their caring, neighbourly hands contrasted with the evil done by others.

The woman, Jem Bunbury whose bravery and commitment led others into helping to save St. George's Cathedral from planned destruction comes readily to mind. She deserves the commendation of more than the Anglican communion.

But there are other faceless ones, in this capital city of ours and along the East and West Coast and East Bank of Demerara, where political hooliganism, robberies and destruction by fire made victims of people whose only sin, if 'sin' it is, was to have been identified with a particular race group and, presumably, a particular political party.

We commend the Police Force for the tremendous job done, in the face of personal threats and actual physical attacks, to maintain law and order, to prevent the country from reliving a fratricidal nightmare on the scale of the 1960s. The assistance provided by the Guyana Defence Force at a critical period was also highly appreciated. The security forces must remain vigilant.

The Guyanese who freely gave their votes to the parties of their choice on March 19 that resulted in the PPP/C being returned to power and the PNC/R doing very well again as a strong alternative, deeply want, we are sure, for Guyana to move forward, as President Bharrat Jagdeo loses no opportunity to reaffirm.

Let us hope that as the President moves to complete the formation of his Cabinet, restricted as he is to no more than four non-elected parliamentary representatives, that we will witness some tangible results from the dialogue that is about to begin between the PPP/C and the PNC/R.

We salute the unsung heroes and heroines who came to the rescue of victims of politically-inspired violence and destruction, and urge all concerned to express their opposition to the preachers of hate messages and the advocates of racial divisions and violence.