Complaint against Gibson's book political, not intellectual -Williams
-urges citizen to citizen forgiveness
May 15, 2004
The complaint by the Indian Arrival Committee (IAC) against Dr Kean Gibson's book, the Cycle of Racial Oppression in Guyana, is intended to distract readers from its full content and remove it from publication.
Roger Williams made this statement to the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) on Thursday at the continuation of its inquiry into the IAC's complaint that Gibson's book is "peddling and spreading racial hatred between Guyana's principal ethnic groups."
"At worst, the complaint by the IAC now deteriorates into a diversion to distract readers from the full content of the book, and to use the ERC to accommodate that purpose through the unprecedented move of 'removing the publication from circulation,'" Williams stated.
Further, Williams submitted, the IAC complaint fosters the notion that someone in that organisation "was given the task of seeking out all such references to 'racism', etcetera, and putting together a political, not an intellectual, response to Gibson's work."
According to Williams, who had started his presentation during the early stages of the inquiry but had been asked to make certain adjustments, the IAC's complaint ignores the examples of death, hurt, corruption, victimisation, stigmatisation, injustice and lawlessness suffered by Afro-Guyanese under the current system and described by Gibson in Chapters 3 and 4 of her book.
In Chapter 3 of Gibson's book, Williams asserted, there are 117 questions that the author's detractors have to date failed to address.
The afore-mentioned list of questions, each beginning with "what is false about Gibson's record..." - sought to establish that references made by Gibson in relation to specific events and circumstances in Guyana were fact-based and falsehoods as the IAC had intimated in its complaint.
Some of the references which Williams said were fact-based include: former President Janet Jagan's attitude when an injunction restraining her election as President had been served on her; criticisms against a judge by President Bharrat Jagdeo after the former granted a habeas corpus to facilitate the release of persons who had [allegedly] been unlawfully detained; the reasons behind the PNCR's boycott of parliament; the US$28M amassed in bad debt by the now defunct Guyana National Cooperative Bank by 1998 after reportedly distributing millions of dollars in unsecured loans to PPP supporters.
"Gibson's work is therefore best understood in the context of a warning and an appreciation of the course that any Hindu-dominated multi-ethnic state is committed to heading in, if post-1992 occurrences are not put into Hindu-dominant perspective..." Williams declared.
He said proof that Gibson is not pro-PNC could be found in paragraph 2 of page 36 and paragraph 2 of page 38 and quoted: "With the fundamental changes and two-thirds majority in parliament no law was entrenched and he [Burnham] controlled everything. [Burnham] handpicked his judges and indicated to them what decisions to give; he controlled the media, trade unions, schools, airports (in that those leaving can be harassed); he dismissed public officers without cause. Public officers who wanted to be certain of keeping their jobs, or who were looking for promotion (including those who were hoping to become judges) often spent their weekends working on a government coconut estate. These workers were given scarce food items at the end of the day."
Gibson, Williams pointed out, was also not anti-Jagan as is evident, he argued, in the sentiments she expressed regarding his vision for a New Global Human Order in Chapter 3. Williams quoted: "Embedded within [Dr. Jagan's] vision [for a New Global Human Order] were the core beliefs and values that Dr. Jagan struggled to uphold during his own political life. These [values] were the ideals of social justice and democracy, based on a conception of society in which hierarchies must dissolve to make way for population and individuals on a global basis."
Williams said Gibson's intimation that "the [African]-dominated police force has been used to 'periodically kill Africans' in a programme of domination and subjugation" could be substantiated.
Williams also criticised the role of the press, particularly the Stabroek News and the Guyana Chronicle, on their approach in reporting incidents of crime committed by Indo-Guyanese and Afro-Guyanese.
He referred specifically to Afro-Guyanese being deemed "hooligans and mobs" during protests that got out of hand while in contrast, Indo-Guyanese were termed "mere protestors" when they attempted to burn down a police station, beat a magistrate and burn that magistrate's car, an incident referred to by Gibson in her book.
ERC Chairman Bishop Juan Edghill instructed that Williams's reference to the fact that Pandit Ramkissoon Maharaj had officiated at a ceremony to celebrate the completion of an 85 ft statue of the Hindu deity 'Hanuman' be struck from the record.
Edghill told Williams that the ERC will not encourage that or similar references to the individual religious practices of any of its commissioners or anyone else since each ought to be free to pursue his specific religious beliefs without censure.
Edghill also instructed Williams to refrain from attempting to make direct references to any reporter, but rather should direct such to the Editor of the media house in question.
This was in reference to Williams's contention about something this reporter had written in an article.
Concluding his submission, Williams said: "There is a terrible spirit of unforgiveness in our land today, and our political and religious leaders, rather than rallying to face a formidable spiritual foe, seem content to take the easy way out by retreating to the less burdensome task of fuelling racial and political intolerance and fear, and subscribing to the lottery of raw political ambition for power and control."
He recommended that: "Every [Afro-Guyanese] in this adopted country asks every [Indo-Guyanese], [Amerindian], and [Portuguese-Guyanese] for forgiveness relative to real [and imagined] wrongs that Blacks committed against them in the past. They [should] then invite the others to do the same for them [none are guiltless]; assuring them that forgiveness will be freely given once it is asked. The order in which this request for forgiveness is initiated is unimportant...
"The simple act of citizen meeting citizen at the inspiration of their faith and saying simply 'I forgive you, and let's start afresh' will mark the true moral and spiritual revival in our nation...and dare we say elections free from fear," Williams concluded.
Another presenter on Thursday was Lin-Jay Harry-Voglezon whose presentation will be reported on in a subsequent edition.