Guyana News

Guyana Mela celebrates Indian Arrival

Georgetown — The Everest Cricket Ground in Georgetown was set ablaze last Saturday evening with lights, music, food and an eclectic menu of cultural exhibition and performances as an estimated 20,000-plus Indian Guyanese celebrated the 165th Anniversary of Indian Arrival in Guyana

It was an awe-inspiring event, a Mela of massive proportion unequalled by anything of its kind in Guyana. The Guyana Mela as this event has been called, is the brainchild of the Guyana Indian Heritage Association (GIHA), a relatively new organization that has been speaking out on critical issues affecting the Indian population here.

On May 5, 1838 the two ships, Hesperus and Whitby, after a lenghty journey of 90 and 114 days respectively, unloaded their cargo of 415 Indian indentured immigrants on Guyana’s soil. These were the first of several such landings in the New World by Indians who would later transform the landscapes of those countries where they became domiciled.

Saturday’s extravaganza with Indians thronging the gates of the former East Indian Cricket Club, many dressed in ancestral Indian garb, singing and dancing with carefree abandon to the stirring rhythms of Indian performers, was without doubt an endorsement of the resilience, persistence and self pride that Indians have cherished in themselves for these 165 years.

The occasion engendered a traffic pile up which streamed all the way down Carifesta Avenue and overflowed all around the Everest Cricket ground.

The bril-liantly lit center stage formed the base of a towering 40-foot high jahaj (ship) that presented a symbolic backdrop to the evening’s proceedings. And a 15’ x 20’ large-screen jumbotron ensured that those not in close proximity to the stage were not deprived of the opportunity to view the action taking place.

The stage program lasted for over four hours with energetic and lively entertain-ment that included singing, tassa drum-ming, a fashion display and music. Presen-tations were made by GIHA president, Ms. Ryhaan Shah, leader of ROAR, Mr. Ravi Dev, and cultural activist Mr. Amar Panday.

Despite the threat of rain, GIHA considered this Mela a resounding success.

Another fallen police officer

Georgetown — Last Monday a 23-year old police constable was gunned down in Sophia at about 8 a.m. bringing the number of such executions to 21 since the spate of police killings started in April last year.

It was reported that Constable Lloyd Cameron was shot and killed while he was leaving home for work in company with another police officer. The latter was believed to have been the real target of the attack. The gunman escaped but one of his two accomplices was held by the police.

Cameron who had taken leave of absence after the recent death of his mother, was walking to work, north along First Street, when he was shot near the path behind the Sophia Practical Instruction Centre

Constable Cameron was shot six times. His companion fled and is believed to have escaped uninjured. Cameron’s service weapon and ammunition were taken by his assailants even as he lay bleeding from the multiple wounds.

His death was a telling blow to his family. Only last Wednesday his mother was buried. He leaves a two-year-old and a three-year-old to mourn his passing.

Two other policemen have been killed in Sophia under similar circumstances: Constables Colin Roberts, on December 23 and Deon Joseph, on January 30.

Since April of last year armed criminals have been systematically targetting policemen. Besides the 21 lawmen killed so far, attempts have been made on the lives of many others. Last Saturday an off-duty policeman was under surveillance by several men and when police were alerted a shootout ensued in Lodge. The two who were tracking the movements of the policeman escaped.

 

Ethnic extremism: The politics of evil

The largest ethnic organization in Guyana is the PPP/C political party. Because of its majority Indian support base, it has won the largest number of votes in every democratic election held so far. That is, the party can "attract popular support of their own ethnic kind". The evil steps in when, as their supporters find, the PPP/C is not "looking out for their ethnic kith and kin". They have abandoned them to wanton ethnic/political criminality in order to support the lies that they are multi-ethnic, that their government represents all Guyanese, and that there is no need for inclusive governance. The party, terrified to admit its ethnic origination, rushes to take care of every other race group except Indians in order to disprove its own truth.

The quotes above, and the headline itself are taken from an article written by Government spokesman Dr Prem Misir and published in the Sunday Chronicle of April 20, 2003. Though Misir does not actually state that ACDA, GIFT, GIHA and others are ethnic extremists – he leaves this to public judgment – his careful selection of groups named is intended to cast doubt.

He does not name as possible ethnic extremists the Amerindian People’s Association, the Chinese Association – no threats to the PPP/C - the defunct British Guiana East Indian Association (BGEIA) and Government’s newly created creature, the Indian Arrival Committee. Since the PPP/C hopes that IAC’s cultural posturing will fool its supporters and keep them from straying, Misir dutifully leaves the party’s creature off his list.

His expurgation of the BGEIA from his list is probably due to the fact that Dr Cheddi Jagan was once a member of this ethnic group, and Misir might have done well to mention his own presidency of the East Indian Diaspora Committee.

It is a clear case of "jackass ears long but he nah hear he own story"! Adding the BGEIA to his list would also have upset Misir’s tidy academic theorizing that "East Indian indentured labourers without ethnic extremism effectively transmitted their culture …." The BGEIA, formed in 1916, looked after and lobbied for Indian welfare including land settlement schemes, education for Indian children and Indians’ right to vote. This, in Misir’s view, would be extremist behaviour because their demands were "completely opposed to bargaining, compromise, and politics as the art of the possible."

Indians transmitted their culture because of the stalwart work of the BGEIA and a host of ethnic community groups, and because of their religions, Hinduism and Islam, the bedrock of their culture. But Misir would no doubt discredit religions, too, as cultural extremism since their rules are not open to compromise and bargaining.

And where has the PPP/C administration’s political artistry and compromising put Guyana? And whom are they bargaining with as the country goes to Hell? With the Devil? And whose lives are the bargaining chips?

It is a simplistic ploy to point to others in order to detract attention from oneself. The BGEIA, GIFT and GIHA hardly qualify as "arch-villains" – Misir’s hyperbolic language - of ethnic extremism.

Ethnic groups have existed in Guyana and will continue to exist to represent particular community interests. In the early 1900’s, among the ethnic community groups on the Corentyne were the Indian Upliftment Movement and the Aggre Memorial Club, an African Guyanese group. Their offices were physically side-by-side and they worked together amicably to look after their respective communities’ welfare.

Today, amity has been replaced by enmity and was actively created by the evil of ethnic extremism that resides within the PPP/C and the PNCR. The PNC’s terrorism is documented and well known. Their terror campaigns are waged against a perceived enemy, Indians, to give advantage to their racial bloc. But how much more evil is it when an ethnic organization uses its own people to gain advantage for itself, to gain political office, then throws them to the wolves? The full force of the PPP/C’s evil has become known to the world and Indians who can are fleeing and seeking refuge abroad, far away from them.

Their supporters here – kept "loyal" by party victimisation and bullyism – also know the truth and Misir’s own analysis predicts that the PPP/C will bring about its own downfall. He states that ethnic extremists "in the final analysis will destroy the very foundations of their own support group". It is already happening. The PPP/C sits back and let their supporters be destroyed by their main political opponent. It is the ultimate politics of evil.

(GIHA: Tel 592-223-6385; email: giha@futurenetgy.com.

War against criminals is still on - Gajraj

Georgetown — Responding to what appears to be a "lull" in the frenzied killings of recent months, Minister of Home Affairs, Ronald Gajraj, said on Sunday that the public should not be misled into letting down their guard.

Mr. Gajraj conceded that the criminals have good intelligence on their targets and are likely to strike at any time. Some areas, the Minister said, have had somewhat of a respite from the intense criminal attacks they were subjected to, but this is no indication that the perpetrators have lost their appetite to commit crimes. To entertain any such notion would lead to a false sense of security.

According to the minister, the reduction of crime in certain areas is due to the alertness of policing groups that have been routinely patrolling their communities. He urged those communities which do not have such patrols to get involved immediately and encouraged those presently involved not to become lax.

Mr. Gajraj emphasized the need for the community policing groups to be alert to criminal activities in their communities and also to be aware of any suspicious acts which they can report to the police.

The minister acknowledged that there has been a loss of confidence by the public in the police force. He felt it is important for this confidence to be restored for the force depends on the information it receives from the public to carry out its functions.

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