UK envoy: No link between Bacchus and visa section closure
February 28, 2004
THERE'S no link between the temporary closure of the Visa Section of the British High Commission and George Bacchus's allegations against the Government of Guyana.
That's the word from British High Commissioner Stephen Hiscock.
Mr. Hiscock spoke yesterday in response to rumors associating the British High Commission's move with allegations by Bacchus that his brother Shafeek Bacchus was gunned down by members of a phantom squad with which he was associated and to which Home Affairs Minister Ronald Gajraj had knowledge.
Shafeek Bacchus, 45, was shot dead outside his home in Princess Street, Lodge, on January 5. His brother George went public the following day, claiming that the assassins mistook Shafeek for him and that he was being sought because the squad feared that, as an informant, he was divulging privileged information.
The U.S. and Canadian missions here have since revoked Minister Gajraj's visas and some media houses believed that the removal of the Visa Section of the British High Commission was linked to what has become known as the Bacchus Affair.
But that's not the case, according to British envoy Hiscock. "I would like to re-assure the Guyanese public that there is no truth in this whatsoever," he said in a note to the Chronicle yesterday.
Said Mr. Hiscock: "It has come to my attention that a link has been made between the temporary closure of the Visa Section at the British High Commission and the accusations made by a Mr. George Bacchus against the Government of Guyana. I would like to re-assure the Guyanese public that there is no truth in this whatsoever.
"On 9th December 2003 we advertised that our Visa Office would be temporarily closed and that Guyanese should obtain their visas from our High Commissions in either Barbados or Trinidad and Tobago. We indicated that normal service would be resumed as soon as possible and we regretted any inconvenience to the Guyanese public. It remains our intention to resume visa-issuing operations here in Georgetown soon. We will advertise again when we are in a position to re-open.
"In regard to the more recent allegations made by Mr. Bacchus, I made a statement to the press that was selectively reported. In answer to a direct question about whether the international community would intervene in the matter, I made it clear that it was not Britain's role to intervene or interfere in the internal affairs of Guyana. However, as a long-standing friend of Guyana, we were naturally concerned when allegations were made which appear to question the integrity of the Government. I expressed the hope that the Government would resolve this matter to the satisfaction of the Guyanese people. I did not personally question the integrity of President Jagdeo.
"Britain remains an all-weather friend of Guyana and the Guyanese people."