A commission of enquiry should be appointed
Stabroek News
April 20, 2002

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Dear Editor,

The killing of Shaka Blair, and the killing by a single gunman of Sgt. Harry Kooseram are crimes of equal order, deserving equal condemnation and police attention.

The Hon. Attorney General publicly stated that court processes rather than verbal attacks, should be used by persons dissatisfied with acts of the police. Other things, like disorder or disturbances, seem to demand another process.

I had begun writing a sermon on the current situation. I shall share it in summary with readers now, but the public crossfire of versions of Monday's events has advised against publishing the full sermon now. In it I was going to preach at the two major parties of this country. I was hoping to be fair to them. I was hoping to explain that each of them might be under pressure from forces outside of them, yet in their separate orbits. (After writing that, I read the PNC/R's statement separating itself from any provocations which took place at the funeral of Shaka Blair. At the time of writing, the PPP has not separated itself from the police version of the April 6 shooting which it so readily embraced, although reports from the autopsy hold up that version to question.)

After taking pains to read, and to listen to what various leaders have said after Monday, April 15, all I now want to say is this.

SN (April 21 and April 30, 2001) is my witness. In 2001 after the April 9 disturbances in the city, the WPA called for a public enquiry to avoid the chance of each party developing its own history of the events without any attempt at a 'public' history. I meant a serious attempt which, well organised and given the fitting resources, could help the general society.

In 2001 the PNC/R next called formally for an enquiry. Some days later President Jagdeo supported the idea of a public enquiry. ROAR made a call for an enquiry, proposing a wider scope. Now we have another April.

I was at Shaka Blair's funeral, arriving late from the city, and taking my stand in the throng outside of the Church. The building was already packed and overflowing.

From there I moved to the burial site.

When I read Brigadier Atherly's glowing approval of the law enforcement strategy applied, I said to myself, "Here an enquiry can have a leading witness."

An army must have many eyes and many positions at the same time. The Brigadier's statement, until tested, will be helpful to the police.

I defy any civilian, standing in the midst of the unfortunate events on the public road, to describe the responses of persons within the church when the firing started.

Similarly, no civilian in the church or in the overflow congregation could be witness to what took place at the primary point of explosion, the public road near Vigilance. I could not even see inside the church.

Because of this, I have declined the request of two journalists, one senior and one young, to comment "briefly" on the events. Many words will not help either.

We need a Commission of Enquiry and without delay.

Such an enquiry will need external support, with domestic cultural advice.

Section 19:03 empowers the President to appoint a Commission of Enquiry, which can summon witnesses. He should consult the Opposition Leader on the Commissioner or Commissioners who should be persons neutral in our domestic politics.

Such a Commission can have a healthy effect on the population. It can examine the statements of persons officially involved, politically involved, or involved as onlookers. It can summon suspects and require them to explain their movements. Interests can be represented by counsel.

Why do they seem to "fear the open word" spoken on oath and subject to cross- examination?

Yours faithfully,

Eusi Kwayana