Government should not tacitly support extra-judicial killings
Stabroek News
April 24, 2002

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Dear Editor,

The recent statements of Dr. Roger Luncheon, the Head of the Presidential Secretariat are chilling. To label the recent expressions of dissatisfaction at the extra-judicial killings by the police as terroristic is simplistic, uncaring, and shows disregard for an intelligent populace. If those expressions are the position of the cabinet then the cabinet as a whole is insensitive to the expressions of disgust at the actions of elements within the Guyana Police Force.

The activities of the criminals cannot be tolerated but executing the criminals in the streets is not right either. If it was right to execute the criminals then why do we need the courts? While the criminals are not accountable to any one but themselves the police on the other hand are accountable to the taxpayers and that is why every taxpayer has the right to question the actions of the police.

For a long time these questions were being asked. It is not now that extra-judicial killings began. Under the PNC we had the "Death Squad" that killed not only the criminals but political activists as well. We also had the House of Israel members who operated a terror group on behalf of the PNC to silence political dissent. The Riot Squad was used extensively to breakup legitimate trade union protests. The PNC however was voted out of power in 1992 and it was expected that that would have brought an end to the brutal activities of the police.

While the police are not now executing political activists they are nevertheless executing criminals who are also human beings who deserve the right to be tried in our courts for their crimes. It is the duty of the police to take the criminals to court not to execute them. If there are confrontations and death occurs on either side then there ought to be a speedy inquest to determine the facts and to satisfy the populace that those deaths were unavoidable. Only then will there be confidence that the police are acting professionally.

So far the government has failed to adequately satisfy the public. Firstly, the government got into the act by criticizing the media, political parties, and human rights organizations for their condemnation of the activities of the police force.

Emboldened by the government's support of their murderous behaviour the police continued the extra judicial killings of criminals. Then the criminals turned their focus on the police and the violence escalated to killings on both sides. Protest mounted with demonstrators taking to the streets. Violence erupted, civilians were wounded, roads dug up and confusion and tension is in the air.

The government's response is to label these protests by citizens and the criticisms by the media as terroristic and that the international community will be informed of this terror. What next? Will the government now instruct the army to invade whole communities to flush out the terrorists by bulldozing houses and slaughtering hundreds of innocent people as the Israelis did to the Palestinians or as the Americans did in Afghanistan?

If that is not the intention than try using the appropriate terminology for our local social issues. Don't try do get military aid or another loan from the American government by deliberately mislabelling the issue. A very small faction in the police force at the moment is acting as the criminals do and people have a right to criticise and protest their actions.

Yours faithfully,

V. Melville