Gibson book exposing, not spreading racism
- says UK-based group
Stabroek News
April 20, 2004

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Dr Kean Gibson's book, The Cycle of Racial Oppression In Guyana, seeks to expose race hate rather than spread race hate, says a member of a UK based Guyanese group.

The Campaign for Justice in Guyana (JIG) - UK, an organisation that comprises Guyanese membership, posited this view to the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) yesterday through its representative, Colin Bascom as the hearing into the controversial book continues.

The ERC is currently hearing presentations relevant to its inquiry into the allegation by the Indian Arrival Committee (IAC) that Gibson's book is "peddling and spreading racial hatred between Guyana's principal ethnic groups."

"...Dr Gibson's book a timely attempt to 'balance' the debate on racial policy and ethnocentrism in Guyana before Afro-Guyanese suffer much more than they are [suffering] currently. The book endeavours to reflect the impact of ...anti-African vilification, re-trace its origins, assess the influence of culture and religion on its proponents' thinking, and put forward an analysis of the motivation driving it," JIG said.

Bascom proceeded to highlight a number of declarations made by predominantly Indo-Guyanese commentators that are considered by the JIG to be "of a racial nature" with specific references to a piece of writing by the Guyana Indian Heritage Association (GIHA) entitled 'Indians Betrayed'.

The commission was presented with copies of two graphs extracted from 'Indians Betrayed', which purported that Indo-Guyanese are the victims of violent attacks by Afro-Guyanese and are carrying out a criminal agenda that has resulted in a transfer of wealth to Afro-Guyanese from Indo-Guyanese.

President Bharrat Jagdeo's recent attendance at the Second Pravasi Bharatiya Divas "...a racially exclusive event for Indians only..." Bascom told the commission, makes a mockery of the principle of a racially diverse multi-cultural society and supports the view that Guyanese live in a racially divided society, burdened by racially polarised politics.

The IAC, Bascom said, never comments when Afro-Guyanese are the victims of violence and crime, for the IAC "it is only an issue for discussion when the victim is an Indo-Guyanese and the perpetrator is an Afro-Guyanese."

Bascom claimed the IAC has ignored the fact that Afro-Guyanese have disproportionately suffered at the hands of rogue elements of the Guyana Police Force.

At the conclusion of Bascom's presentation on JIG's behalf, he clarified that the intention of the submission is not to justify the book's conclusions or attest to its veracity.

However, the commission struck from its record JIG's reference to the alleged existence of a state-sponsored death squad that is allegedly responsible for wiping out Afro-Guyanese males, that was to be submitted as part of Bascom's presentation.

Bascom has also been asked to provide supporting evidence to the commission on JIG's conclusion that the problem of racial hatred as it presents itself in Guyanese society "consists of overt acts which deny equal status or opportunity to people because of their racial, ethnic or religious identity."

Bascom has also been asked to provide supporting information to its claim that Afro-Guyanese have been the major victims of extra-judicial killings.

Previous presenter, Roger Williams has been asked to insert printed versions of his references to Gibson's book into the written copy of his submission to be perused by the commission before he continues presenting. He is expected to do this in a week's time.

The hearing continues today before Commissioners Andrew Garnette, Drs Frank Anthony and Rajendra Singh [Anthony's substitute], John Willems [Norman McLean's substitute], Pandit Ramkis-soon Maharaj, Cheryl Samp-son, Shahabudeen McDoom and Chairman Bishop Juan Edghill.