The Bacchus affair, the phantom and the PNC
January 13, 2004
WE have been told in bold print in the newspapers that Shafeek Bacchus of Princess Street, Georgetown, had admitted being a former member of a killing squad that was behind dozens of brutal executions last year (2003). I think that the DDP should advise the Police to charge Bacchus with conspiracy to murder. The police should, however, pursue enquiries as a result of the allegation made by Bacchus.
The first question that comes to mind immediately is, what useful purpose such a report made by Bacchus to the US Embassy, would serve? The US Embassy cannot prosecute any Guyanese. At most, if they are so inclined, they can offer a visa to Bacchus to escape his pursuers.
The leadership of the PNC was quick to go public and by innuendoes infer that the Minister of Home Affairs is the official of whom Bacchus spoke. If their contention is correct, then it follows that they had access to the report made by Bacchus. Is the security of the US Embassy so porous that the PNC can get access to what may be privileged communication?
But having said all this let us attempt to put into perspective the happenings since the five prisoners escaped from the Georgetown Prison in February 2002. I think the majority of law abiding citizens feel that the phantom gang has done an excellent job. Is there any justification for such a belief?
Let us consider the facts, which have not been challenged. Buxton on the East Coast of Demerara has been the center of the axis of evil in the country. Persons and vehicles passing through that area were wantonly and brazenly attacked, robbed, vandalized and murdered. Many persons were kidnapped and taken hostage in Buxton. No one has been held or charged for any of those offences.
Scores of millions of dollars were stolen, looted and collected from victims. The police could not go into Buxton.
Mr. Desmond Hoyte, late leader of the PNC, visited Buxton nightly and told his supporters then that there were no criminals in Buxton and that they - whoever they were - should continue the struggle. The criminals were referred to as "freedom fighters," and the army was told by Mr. Hoyte that they could not intervene, as the matters were civil and not such to engage the army.
Most of the obscene crimes were committed in that area and many in the presence of the members of the GDF, who failed to offer assistance to citizens.
Can we forget when the gentleman from the US Embassy was kidnapped? Did not a member of the PNC aspiring to leadership go to Buxton and tell the kidnappers to collect what they could get, but the man should be released before midnight?
Did not the PNC leadership offer the clear ten thousand acres of land aback of Buxton for agricultural purposes for their supporters and was the leadership of the party not told that they would not toil the land, for when they needed money they would "kidnap a collie man and collect five million dollars"? Has not that agricultural scheme been foiled?
With the nation held to ransom by a band of vagabonds and criminals, the phantom force emerged and brought peace to the land. Neither the police nor the army offered protection and the people resorted to self-help.
Can Amnesty International comment?
The public perception is that whoever did what was done to bring back order in our society did the nation a favor.
A report was made to the US Embassy. There is no doubt that Bacchus was advised by persons who have interests to serve. He went with a lawyer. The PNC seems to know the contents of the report.
Can these folks offer a comment on the part the US Embassy is playing in respecting and protecting human rights in America and around the world? How many persons are held in captivity, without access to their family and lawyers? How many are kept in blindfold and do not even know what part of the world they are held?
Bacchus has spoken - the press has highlighted his report. The politicians are having a field day.