Headlines      Issue Released July 23 2003

Caribana: An invocation in diaspora

By Ramabai Espinet

Toronto - Perhaps first generation migrants to a place can never completely abandon their apprehensions of an earlier, more rooted reality than the transplanted one in which they find themselves. Perhaps the first apprehension of home never vanishes and all other homes are referenced from whatever that particular nucleus consisted of, negative or positive.

These are graying thoughts, hardly likely to occur to the “young in one another’s arms” to quote the poet Yeats, likely though to be a certainty to those who think, like Frank Sinatra, that “love like youth is wasted on the young.”

But such thoughts could not escape me (and other onlookers whom I checked) as we stood in the noonday hot sun at the Caribana launch at Nathan Phillips Square on Friday, July 18th and listened to the jockeying speeches of politicians, witnessed the prolonged frozen photo-opped smiles of those presenting and receiving cheques from the city or from sundry political outfits, governmental or otherwise, and the big-it-up salutes to those in the crowd who were thought to be worthy of such big-ups.

A sense of deja-vu reigned. It was not allayed by observing the crowd on hand. A small crowd, to start, aging Caribbean/ Canadian citizens accompanied by the young too disempowered still to protest, held firmly by the hands of grandparents or being pushed in baby buggies, or the young bussed in early from sundry schools and day-cares and happily occupying the few available seats while those aunties and grannies and nen-nens who arrived at the appointed hour of twelve o’clock hugged the shade and tried to see and hear from afar.

Call me a liar if you want but I could count the few young adults there on the fingers of my hand. And don’t talk about diversity! While politicians boasted from the platform about Toronto being the most multicultural city in the world, my beady eyes took in the unambiguous West Indianness of the crowd diversified by a sprinkling of office workers maybe from the periphery of Nathan Phillips Square and extending their curiosity or just having lunch.

 So it was we and we alone, as far as I was concerned, pushing, shoving, heaving and groaning to put the show on the road again this year for an imagined community of interest, organizing and planning to put money in the pockets of hoteliers and other merchants, showin we motion, showin we riddim, showin how we could wine and have a good time, showin dem how we is we.

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GIHA president for Toronto visit

Toronto — The very outspoken President of the Guyana Indian Heritage Association (GIHA), Ms Ryhaan Shah, will be in Toronto this upcoming weekend as guest of Roar Toronto. While here, Ms Shah will meet with the media and some MPs and will be the guest speaker at a public forum on Saturday July 26 at 3:00 p.m. in the French Room of the International Centre, 6900 Airport Road, Mississauga (use Hall 2 entrance).
Ms Shah will also be releasing in Toronto a GIHA report, Indians Betrayed, Black on Indian Violence, Government’s Denial and Inaction which was launched a few weeks ago in Guyana. The 164-page report combines five papers that were presented earlier at a symposium which include GIHA’s own findings from its field visits and counselling of victims of ethnic violence.

The report also contains papers on the criminal transfer of wealth by economist Dr. Ramesh Gampat and medical scientist Dr. Somdat Mahabir; one on the failure of the media to report ethnic atrocities as hate crimes by Ryhaan Shah; another entitled "Manufacturing Docility" by Swami Aksharananda and one on the role of the African police force in the violence against Indians by Ravi Dev.

Ms Shah rose to prominence after denouncing the violent crimes that were targeted at Indo-Guyanese last year. She was instrumental in founding GIHA which has since become a recognized voice for Indian rights and interests in Guyana and abroad.

Shah is a trained journalist who was General Manager of GTV between 1998-99. She received the 1999 Caribbean Broadcasting Union Awards for Best Television Documentary in Caribbean, Remembering Burnham" and Best Television Feature the Caribbean, "Life & Times of Cheddi Jagan."


T&T not backing out of ICC

US demand from Caricom means no military aid

By Sandra Chouthi

Special to Indo Caribbean World

Port-of-Spain The Trinidad and Tobago government has decided not to accede to the request of the United States to enter into bilateral immunity or "non-surrender" agreements which will exempt US nationals from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The George W. Bush administration made the call for six Caricom countries — Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica and Belize and St Vincent and the Grenadines — to sign this agreement or face the suspension of military aid by July 1. In 2002 Trinidad and Tobago received (US) $300,000 in foreign military funds, an initial contribution of $1.6 million for the installation of equipment and another $116,000.

National Security Minister Howard Chin Lee on July 3 said that this country’s military staff receives training in the US.

The government has not given in to the United States’ demand - it would be an awkward move considering that former president Arthur NR Robinson was a significant player in the establishment of the ICC on July 1, 2002.

Responding to the move, Robinson said on July 1 that the move to blacklist Trinidad and Tobago was "extremely regressive."

Additionally, "It is an attack on the universal criminal justice system, on international democratic institutions and the International Criminal Court. It is action taken against small countries that cannot afford to defend themselves. It is extremely important that all countries involved unite against the unilateral action of the United States which is contrary to international law."

Prime Minister Patrick Manning said this country’s unconditional support of the ICC was based on principle, adding that the ICC was established on the initiation of former president Robinson.

The Caribbean Community (Caricom) was initially divided over the issue when the heads of government met at Montego Bay, Jamaica earlier this month. By July 5 their position was a lot clearer. The heads of government issued a statement declaring their "strong support" for the principles and purposes of the ICC.

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