Gibson should be prosecuted for 'race hate' book
-IAC tells hearing
April 15, 2004
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IAC Executive member, Evan Radhay Persaud, testified under oath before the commission about 40 of 48 excerpts selected from Gibson's book which are deemed offensive by the IAC.
Persaud, in opening remarks preceding his testimony, said it was the IAC's suggestion that if the commission's findings at the end of the inquiry correspond with the IAC's arguments, then the commission ought to submit these to the Chambers of the Director of Public Prosecutions for prosecutorial action to be taken against the author.
According to Persaud's testimony, Gibson's portrayal of Africans in Guyana being marginalised by a Hindu regime and her comparison of the treatment of Africans by Hindus/Indo-Guyanese to that of European racism is "historically false, malicious, wicked, race hate propaganda" [ please note: link provided by LOSP web site ].
"In her obsessive quest to set the stage for race war, Gibson deliberately seeks to equate what she calls racist practices in Guyana with the most odious and contemptible practices that took place during fascist rule in continental Europe during the twentieth century," Persaud charged.
He pointed out that there are Africans in Guyana who hold some of the highest offices in the land including Prime Minister Sam Hinds, Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon, Opposition and PNCR Leader Robert Corbin, Chancellor of the Judiciary, Desiree Bernard and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Guyana, Dr. James Rose.
He said that contrary to the position in Dr. Gibson's book, Hinduism is not an ideology but a great, ancient religion and further, Gibson's attempts to link Dr. Cheddi Jagan, late President and Leader of the PPP to a philosophy that upheld the principles of Hinduism was among other things "nonsensical" since Dr. Jagan was known to be a Marxist/Socialist follower.
According to Persaud, tension between Guyana's two major ethnic groups started in 1838 with the Europeans and was not instigated by Jagan supporters against Burnham supporters during the pre-independence era as is suggested in Gibson's book.
He noted that evidence suggests that Guyanese of all ethnic groups pursue higher learning at the University of Guyana and that the state endorses the free practice of all major religions in Guyana.
Persaud told the commission that persons from ethnic groups other than Indians practise Hinduism and said Minister Clinton Collymore, an Afro-Guyanese, is one such person.
He said as well that Police Officer Beaton of the Presidential Guard is a very good bhajan singer.
Chairman of the Commission, Bishop Juan Edghill has requested that Persaud substantiate claims by virtue of further testimony or other similar means that Hinds had consumed rancid coconut water and not kerosene oil, as Gibson's book alleges, while attending an Indian function during a brief tenure as acting president.
Persaud responded that he had spoken with Hinds himself. The chairman also requested that Persaud produce clarification on the Hindu caste system and the colour-coding system as set out in the Hindu religion. He was also asked for more detail on his statement that certain "lunatic, fringe groups" are responsible for promoting racial hatred, not the Hindus.
All inquiries conducted by the Commission will be open to the media and the public and persons can give sworn and unsworn testimony. The commissioners are entitled to ask the witnesses questions and no extraneous matters will be allowed for discussion during any inquiry.
Other than Egdhill, Dr. Frank Anthony, Ramkissoon Maharaj, Cheryl Sampson, and Andrew Garnette were the commissioners present while John Willems substituted for Norman McLean while Shahabudeen McDoom was absent.
The hearing continues today when Persaud will testify on the remaining eight extracts from Dr. Gibson's publication.
It is expected that at some stage a representative of the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha will also testify. Persons can be represented by a lawyer and may support or argue against any testimony heard by the commission. The hearing is being held at the ERC headquarters in the old Bidco building at Peter Rose and Anira Sts.