ROAR urges state of emergency
Says PNC REFORM must accept culpability for march mayhem
July 6, 2002
The parliamentary party ROAR is calling on the government to institute a state of emergency to avoid further atrocities which planned marches could cause and it argued that the opposition PNC/R must be held responsible for the latest round of violence.
Rise, Organise and Rebuild (ROAR) Guyana Movement in a statement on Thursday said that the march which climaxed with the storming of the Presidential compound, was "most reprehensible and destroy[ed] any pretence of the PNC(/R)'s claim to be working to remove the Government by democratic means". The PNC/R has said it cannot be held responsible for the violence. Some of its leading officials took part in the march. A section of the marchers subsequently broke away and stormed the Office of the President. In the ensuing mayhem, two protesters were killed by guards in the compound after they stormed the accounts section and terrorised staff. Two stores were later burnt down on Regent Street in the looting and arson that followed.
According to ROAR, it was the open knowledge of an impending protest march by the PNC/R that led to ROAR
picketing in front of Freedom House (PPP headquarters) and Congress Place (PNC/R headquarters) on Tuesday, in what was described as a vain attempt to avert the suspected horrendous consequences.
ROAR further stated that the PNC/R should take responsibility for this "new round of atrocities" including the Police's defensive responses. According to ROAR, because of the polarised ethnic politics in Guyana, mass protest marches against the PPP/C government by the PNC/R present a "clear and present danger to innocent Indian citizens and their property". The party further stated that by ignoring this substantial likelihood of "violence against Indians" the PNC/R has to accept culpability for what happened.
ROAR criticised the police for allowing the marchers into the city. It said that in light of previous experiences it could have been surmised that the police expected that the march would have posed a danger to the public. "Why was the march then allowed to proceed for seventeen miles to Georgetown - and with police escort? Why were men in army kit allowed to participate in the marches, when this has been prohibited? All the rules of peaceful picketing were violated - a `noisy instrument' in the form of a loudspeaker on a truck was blaring away and most of the marchers had no `peaceful picketing' armbands".
The ruling PPP/C government also came in for its share of blame, as ROAR declared that it needed to share the responsibility for Guyana's "slide into anarchy". The party charged that under the PPP leadership, there is a "demonstrated absence of firm will and commitment to law and order", as a result of which the "forces of anarchy" have taken over. According to the statement, the PPP has failed to implement its own crime fighting proposals and under the present circumstances, "it is obvious ...that several communities of PPP supporters - read Indians - are under direct threat".
The party called on the Government to call on the United Nations to note the possibility of what it described as "widespread ethnic violence" and to request UN peacekeeping personnel to come to Guyana. In light of the PNC-promised marches until Sunday, ROAR also called for the Government to declare a state of emergency in Georgetown under which a curfew can be enforced and all marches can be banned. The police have said that permission will not be granted for these marches.