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At this time, when criminal violence is robbing families of loved ones and inflicting humiliating and unwarranted punishment on innocent persons, the collective consciousness of the Guyanese nation is asking the big question, “WHY?” This question is inevitably followed by another difficult query, “How can the nation put an end to this spiralling violence, which threatens to engulf the entire society in chaos and disorder?” All decent, law-biding citizens must experience shock and outrage at the wanton slaying of persons on their own premises such as Thursday’s horrendous killing of New Amsterdam dentist Dr Neville Fung-A-Fat. It is also frightening to contemplate the reality that the life of an armed security guard could be brutally snuffed out because criminals want to appropriate his firearm. Saturday’s execution of Mr Vibert Inniss, the deputy head of the Customs Anti-Narcotic Unit (CANU) sent more ripples of fear, loathing and disgust through the populace. It also brought home the deeply disturbing message that every citizen is vulnerable in this new culture of criminal violence.
How could ordinary, law-abiding citizens pursue their honest livelihoods knowing that by merely being in a particular place at a specific time, they could be robbed, beaten, wounded and even killed as a result of criminal violence? Wives are weeping for slain husbands, mothers are shedding tears for slaughtered sons, and young children have to come to terms with the bleak fact that their fathers will never see them complete high school or commence their careers.
There is a tide of opinion, which theorises that the answer to the violence and instability lies in the realm of politics, and that if the dialogue process between President Bharrat Jagdeo and Opposition Leader Mr Desmond Hoyte were to re-commence then this would result in a substantial reduction of robberies, killings and other acts of violence. There might be tremendous merit in this idea, and we would join the leaders of civil society in persuading the executive of the People’s National Congress/Reform (PNC/R) to give positive consideration to this argument. However, we would also like to invite all organisations and groups, all religious bodies, all community leaders and opinion-makers and all cultural exponents to participate in a national conversation on peace-building with the specific objective of advancing and reinforcing the age-old golden rule of respecting and treating other persons as each of us would like to be treated. We must reaffirm the sanctity of human life and the inherent dignity of each human being. We must all subscribe to the idea that discords and conflicts between individuals and between groups can be resolved by way of discussion and compromise. We must all diligently seek to applaud the noble in our fellow humans and consistently endeavour to rise above the circumstances that could entangle and destroy our lives.