African Guyanese are victims of Hindu caste ideology
-presenter tells Gibson book trial
Stabroek News
April 17, 2004

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Presenter Roger Williams yesterday told the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) [ please note: link provided by LOSP web site ] that he believes that the caste system is essential to the Hindu religion and that this has an effect on how African Guyanese are viewed.

Williams, whose arguments were made under the theme "How Should The Church of Jesus Christ Respond To Dr. Gibson's Book" said he believes himself to be The Church and was therefore presenting on behalf of the Church.

He quoted several sections of the Bible, including sections of 1 Corinthians, and made what he considered a comparative analysis of Gibson's book and the arguments put forward by the Indian Arrival Committee.

The ERC reserved sections of sworn testimony by Williams, for subsequent ruling after briefly consulting with its legal representatives from the Chambers of the Attorney General during a recess.

Williams is the third presenter to appear before the ERC since it began its inquiry two days [ please note: link provided by LOSP web site ] ago into the allegation by the Indian Arrival Committee [ please note: link provided by LOSP web site ] that "The Cycle of Racial Oppression in Guyana", [ please note: link provided by LOSP web site ] written by Dr. Kean Gibson, is "peddling and spreading racial hatred between Guyana's principal ethnic groups."

ERC Chairman, Bishop Juan Edghill, called a five-minute recess during Williams' presentation to consult with the commission on whether it would be appropriate to accept as pertinent to the existing complaint a compilation of ten letters and a news article, all carried in the Stabroek News, as evidence in the hearing.

Shortly afterward, in keeping with the commissioners' decision and advice from the legal representatives, attorneys Nigel Hawke and Lakshmi Shiwnandan, Edghill announced that the ERC would use that section of Williams' testimony as reference for information and has reserved its ruling about whether it would be admitted as evidence.

Edghill related that the commission's concern was that the details contained in that section of Williams' testimony has the potential to introduce extraneous arguments and thus compromise the chief purpose of the hearing.

This course of action by the ERC was also applied in relation to Williams' suggestion that certain contentions in Gibson's work could be related to the need to address constitutional issues.

Edghill warned Williams that he must confine his presentation to the thesis offered by Gibson's book.

He also requested that Williams provide an adequately substantiated definition of the term 'Hinduism' and submit to the commission his verification that Hinduism as practised in Guyana has a caste system.

Williams then assured the commission that he intends to call as witnesses to testify before the commission the writers of the letters to the Stabroek News. But Edghill further cautioned that no other persons who testify before the commission would be allowed to refer to these letters until the commission has ruled on them.

Commissioner Andrew Garnette has advised Williams to allude specifically and in a comparative manner, for the purpose of clarification, to the sections of Gibson's book that he has chosen to discuss in his presentation.

Edghill, meanwhile, has indicated that persons seeking to appear before the Com-mission regarding the present subject of inquiry must indicate this desire to the ERC administrative officer, Yvonne Langevine, either personally or in writing by next Wednesday.

The hearing continues on Monday before Commissioners Dr. Frank Anthony and his substitute, Dr. Rajendra Singh, Cheryl Sampson, Garnette, substitute John Willems for Major General rtd Norman McLean and Pandit Ramkissoon Maharaj. McLean and Commissioner Shahabudeen McDoom are both currently unavailable.