Dialogue is not feasible with this Phantom squad issue pending
Stabroek News
January 23, 2004

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Dear Editor,

The Stabroek News (SN) editorial of Monday, January 19th 2004 captioned "Dialogue needs energizing." Is one of your worst editorials in recent times in terms of timing, content and intent.

What is the usefulness of meetings between President Jadgeo and Opposition leader Mr. Corbin in the present circumstances? Are the Guyanese people so dumb and spineless that we cannot make the rulers show respect for political morality, the rule of law and good governance. Are these components not critical to life in the nation and key to the success of any dialogue or constructive engagement?

In the present climate in which the country finds itself your paper ignores the fact that a large segment of people in the country feels aggrieved by the Bacchus revelations and are demanding a just solution to the crisis. In such a situation it is wrong for SN to try to deflect people's attention from the present crisis and to put unnecessary pressure on Mr. Corbin to meet Mr Jadgeo to discuss something that is not working. My obvious question to SN is - what are you asking these two persons to meet and discuss?

For as long as the President, his government and the ruling party in the matter of the George Bacchus' revelations, which have surfaced in the public domain, are prepared to brazen it out, are unprepared to demonstrate respect for the nation and the international community by not ordering Home Affairs Minister, Ronald Gajraj to demit office until such time as an independent commission of inquiry has examined and pronounced on the credibleness of the allegations made by Mr. Bacchus, the only useful purpose to be derived from any form of contact between these two high officials will be to hoodwink people in Guyana and overseas into believing that there is business as usual. To my mind. SN, which in the past has lamented the collapse of the rule of law, now seems conveniently willing to ignore the implications that these revelations, if proven to be correct, will have on life in this country.

Many, including SN have called on both the government and opposition to act in good faith, to make constructive engagement work. Is it not also necessary that the rulers in its dealing with the nation act in good faith in relation to the present national crisis? If this premise is true I therefore pose the question to SN - what use is the constructive engagement process with a government in a situation where it demonstrates the absence of good faith?

SN seems to be confused. In an earlier editorial you correctly warned the government to act quickly and not to think that this matter would be passed over. Now, you are attempting to shift the public's attention from the Gajraj affairs to constructive engagement. Why? If we as a nation cannot force the rulers to allow due process in this most important national matter, why do you believe and expect that Mr. Corbin could achieve what the nation is unable to.

Is it a confused mind set or is it a deliberate editorial policy to encourage the views that are expressed daily in your letter column which praise the Phantom killers for "ending the crime wave which began after the jail break." The absence of the usual editorial note correcting this erroneous view lends support to the opinion that is widely subscribed to, which says the emergence of these letters is a deliberate editorial policy of SN's to encourage the propagation of this line. Without getting into a detailed discussion of this issue of the crime wave, I want to use this opportunity to point out the following:

(1) that the formation of the state sponsored Phantom killing squad was a criminal act, (2) it used criminals to commit heinous crimes such as murder, kidnapping and torture, (3) a large number of persons were killed after the demise of the jail break escapees.

Only the blind and deaf would be unaware that this group of killers solved nothing, they committed numerous murders, kidnapped and tortured scores of Guyanese particularly African Guyanese but also including Indo-Guyanese. This unwise policy of the rulers to sanction the formation of a phantom squad could result in an unprecedented wave of counter killings. Those persons who wish to ignore the overwhelming evidence which indicates that crime in fact skyrocketed with the activities of the Phantom killers and continue to insist that the reverse is true, are not only confused, but are fools by choice. They can be equated to those in the government and ruling party who in the name of fighting crime entered into an "unholy alliance" which now threatens the very survival of the Guyanese state.

Finally, these opportunists and political morons conveniently chose to forget that it was the pressure from the US Government that played the major role in ending the "resistance" in Buxton. Those who are now in praise of the Phantom killers rather than the US Government and the Commonwealth of Nations, are opportunists of the worst kind. Stabroek News must be concerned and careful about how it uses its enormous influence in national affairs. If you fail to do so, history will not be kind to your paper.

Yours faithfully,

Tacuma Ogunseye

Editor's note:

We have taken a strong editorial position against the Phantom squad and the ministerial connection from the outset. We have also strongly supported the dialogue and believe it is important that it should continue despite the serious problems that now exist. We support the position that Minister Gajraj should step down until this matter has been fully investigated and that there should be an independent inquiry into the whole affair.

As for the letters, we have received more supporting the Phantom squad than opposing it. Not all have been published. It is not our practice to join issue with every letter we disagree with.