PNCR co-sponsoring Rule of Law march
-stepping up campaign over death squad allegations
March 12, 2004
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The PNCR stated that the major issue of concern is naturally the Gajraj affair and the allegations of death squads in Guyana, but it is not the only issue. Many other issues are of concern to the co-sponsors of the march, including what the party said was the failure of the government to honour Court Orders that affect workers, the rise in the cost of living and the unbearable electricity rates being demanded by GPL.
The Rule of Law march is expected to start from three venues in the city - Public Buildings on Brickdam, the Ruimveldt Shopping Plaza in South Ruimveldt Gardens and Sophia from the PNCR headquarters, according to a statement issued at the party's press conference at Congress Place yesterday.
And each participating organisation has undertaken to provide marshals to ensure that the march is peaceful and orderly and to prevent any troublemaker from infiltrating it to create confusion, the statement said. "We will deal firmly with anyone who attempts to use our march to create mayhem and to sow seeds of disunity," the PNCR declared. Previous PNCR marches have been marred by violence and robberies.
The march is to take several routes through the city and culminate with a rally at the Square of the Revolution which will be addressed by representatives of the co-sponsors.
"Police permission for this activity was applied for several days ago and we see no reason why approval would not be granted," the PNCR said.
Among the co-sponsors of the march, the party said, are several trade unions, opposition political parties, and other organisations. Other organisations, including religious bodies, are also being encouraged to participate.
The details of these activities were discussed last Tuesday at a meeting held at City Hall and the co-sponsors will hold a follow-up meeting today, at the same venue from 5 pm, the statement noted.
"We urge all Guyanese and civil society organisations to join in this activity. We call on all religious organisations, the Guyana Human Rights Association, the Bar Association, private sector and other civil society organisations to let your actions speak louder than your voices," the PNCR appealed. "Failure to do so," the party said, "may give the government the erroneous impression that you condone their present … activities."
Referring to the rule of law, the PNCR said Guyanese must stand up and take back their country. "We must let the Jagdeo regime know we will take so much and no more. The rule of law must prevail," the PNCR declared.
The statement also underscored that the party remained committed to urgently building a new social and political order for the benefit of all Guyanese, and it would let nothing stand in the way of achieving these objectives.
According to the PNCR, the future of the "Construc-tive Engagement" between President Bharrat Jagdeo and Opposition Leader Robert Corbin is in the hands of President Jagdeo and the ruling PPP/C, and nothing short of performance will salvage it.
The party said this is the time for action by Guyanese against what it called government's intransigence and abuse of power. "The breakdown in the rule of law has surpassed crisis proportions. Every aspect of our lives has been thrown into uncertainty, anxiety and fear. All Guyanese, regardless of race or political allegiance, feel the effects. All Guyanese are crying out for a New Order now."
According to the statement, the government was being intransigent in taking positive action on allegations of state-sponsored death squads and the alleged connection of the Minister of Home Affairs to its activities. That in the PNCR's view was only the latest example of the administration's failure to observe the rule of law.
The first major example, the PNCR said, was the disregard for a Court Order by former President Janet Jagan shortly before she was sworn in when she threw it over her shoulder in full view of the nation via national television while the Court Marshal was ejected from State House.
According to the PNCR, given this display at the highest level of the nation, it is not surprising that the PPP/C administration has continued to "preside over the continuous breach/violation of Court Orders, the abuse of the rules and regulations governing the State for discriminatory and other purposes, the escalation of corruption and other illegalities in every aspect of national life." The opposition PNCR also charged the ruling PPP/C with the denial of just and legitimate rights of many citizens, the violation of human rights by institutions and agents of the State, and the breach of agreements and commitments made by the government to political parties, trade unions, the private sector, international organisations and governments.
"This situation can no longer be allowed to continue if Guyana is to survive as a nation," the PNCR asserted. "It is time for all Guyanese who are concerned about the future of our nation and the legacy that we will bequeath to our youth, to let the regime know in no uncertain terms that we will no longer condone this behaviour."
The party said further "unless we take a stand now, especially on the human rights abuses, the situation is sure to escalate and Guyana may well become, apart from one of the poorest, one of the most repressive states in the world. Guyanese must take back their country now."
The statement noted that from the initial stages of the death squad allegations, the party had made it clear that the issue was not a partisan political one between the government and the PNCR. "We emphasised that it is a national issue which affects all Guyanese irrespective of race, religion or political affiliation." The party said further it was for that reason it had restrained its response since January 15 when it officially notified the President of the PNCR's concerns. The party said also that it had used the period since then to hold public and community meetings to sensitise Guyanese about the dangers of these developments and during that time the government had ample time to act responsibly.
The PNCR said it was therefore now compelled to increase its mobilisation to let the government understand the seriousness of its resolve. "We hope that the government will finally see the wisdom of ensuring the restoration of the Rule of Law," the party added. "No amount of diversionary tactics such as, the expulsion of (Khemraj) Ramjattan (from the PPP), the IAST investigation, State visits or the recent attempt to invoke territorial issues and controversies will divert our attention from the serious threat which the existence of the death squads will pose for the future of human rights in Guyana.
The PNCR has repeatedly stated over the last few weeks that this issue will not be allowed to die and it appears that the government, as is their wont, will not take this matter seriously until there is a national confrontation", the party added.
Meanwhile, the PNCR said that there will also be a number of other activities which will be implemented over the next few days, including the intensification of picketing exercises from today and on Monday. Those interested in the picketing exercises, the party said, can assemble at 8:30 am today, and at 12 noon on Monday at the Square of the Revolution when details would be provided.