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The government has failed in its mandate to preserve the peace 

Sunday, May 26, 2002

Dear Editor, 

Ever since the PPP/C came to power in 1992, its anti-crime policy has been atrocious. In its latest effort to combat the crime crisis, it has announced a public anti-crime campaign involving marches, cycle rides, et cetera. I do not object to marches for such a message, but I have one question for the organizers; "In whose name do we march?" 

Assuming that one can ignore the crime situation between 92-2000, it is impossible to disregard a landscape plagued by criminal disobedience for the past 14 months or so. More or less, from the 2001 elections to present, the growing list of publicized deaths resulting from criminal attacks (non-domestic related) is staggering; Rajnauth Mahadeo, Donna McKinnon, Mervyn Barran, Bemchand Barran, Dhanpaul Jagdeo, David Kissoondai, Rahamat Ali, Garvin France, Savitri Persaud, G. Boyce, Sgt. E. Aldredge, Shabudeen Kassim, Jagdai Singh, Deonarine Sahadeo, Troy Williams, Paul Hardeo, Errol Butcher, Leon Fraser, Gavin Sobers, Harry Kooseram, Mark Sancho, Sita Persaud, Ramdeo Persaud, Chetram Etwaroo...and counting. 

Before requesting public support, someone from Freedom House should ask crime victims who survived (many of whom are women that have been brutalized and humiliated in numerous ways), like Ester Budram (Fryish, Corentyne) or Sumintra Roberts (Edinburgh, Berbice) what it means to have a cutlass or a gun butt rammed into one's skull; they should inquire from Babita Bhola (Stanleytown, WCD) or Indrani John (Rampoor, Berbice) how they felt when bandits placed guns at their babies' heads. Whoever is busy arranging marches should tell the public what to say if the children of the aforementioned deceased ask, "In whose name should we march?" When Freedom House says that people should march, it means, naturally, that Indian people should be striding down the roads. 

I don't think the Indian community is in the mood for marches and bike rides and rallies, nor do I think they should be. Their primary concern should be getting the government to do what it should have done a long time ago, make it safe for them to exist. Since the Indian population is the core of the government's support base, and the Indian population has borne the brunt of criminal attacks, one must deduce that the Indian population has either voted for its own destruction and humiliation, or it has been deceived by the government. Regardless, the 2001 mandate has failed to bring security which, incidentally, is still the government's first priority to all Guyanese. 

It is no secret that what is happening is pointing us into the direction of the terrible past; at least psychologically for anyone connected to a crime victim. The sheer horror of it all-memories of blood, parents beaten or gunned down, graveyard journeys, constant apprehension, is leading to immense hatred. It is a cruel fate to offer the children waiting in the maternity wards across this country. Every kind of hell has a way out; if we have not found a way out of this one, it is because we have not exhausted every possible means of locating the desired path. 

As it is, the people asked to march are both angry with those who attack and those who should be preventing these attacks. The onus has always been on the PPP/C to use all means at its disposal-this includes the military especially, to ensure domestic security is never compromised. There is evidence suggesting that this has not been done, leaving the public, especially on the East Coast and in Georgetown, at extreme risk. This government was given a job to perform-people want the job to be done. They are tired of receiving condolences and compensations, and seeing government officials at wake houses; they want a government to govern at all costs and not merely "be" in office. A government must rule; if this government cannot do this, then we have a greater problem than crime. 

Until then I see no reason for anyone to march for or with the PPP/C. I see no reason for the PPP/C to believe that it can keep its supporters hemmed in, and then, whenever it wants, call for their support. The PPP/C does not deserve support in this aspect of their rule, and they know this. It is time the supporters of the PPP/C know and respect this. Otherwise they will end up in a cemetery or on the Atlantic foreshore one by one, and instead of writing letters, I will have to write obituaries. 

If anyone really wants to march, then march (in memory of all crime victims) on the PPP/C with one demand-exercise the mandate militarily to arrest the rampage of criminal activities now and not next year. After all, it is a legitimate task for the legitimate government of this legitimate nation. 

Yours faithfully, 

Rakesh Rampertab