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Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Letters to Guyana Chronicle

Special force needed
THE brutal murders of Minister Sawh and members of his family are distressing, but not quite so shocking to some of us who noticed a trend in the marked escalation of heinous violence in Guyana.

For some time now more and more important people are being targeted for assassination; in just one month we had one of Guyana’s more important construction engineers and now an important government minister.

One senses a plan.

Not many citizens share President Jagdeo’s recent endorsement and praise for high-ranking police officers. It is a dreadful irony that the minister’s assassination happened so soon after Mr. Jagdeo paid a marked tribute to policing in Guyana.

Everyone is asking the same thing: when will the State provide the kind of security and stability which it is under oath to do?

The government is duty bound to rid Guyana of the present rampaging criminality. If there is one thing Mr. Jagdeo’s Presidency will be remembered for is its failure to curb the gun-slingers terrorising the nation and this is unfair because Mr. Jagdeo has done many other things worth remembering. But the current banditry is leaving its mark.

That the police are either unwilling or unable to counter the criminals who execute their murders with military precision is obvious to everyone.

The answer is easy enough. Use the parliamentary majority to declare a special emergency regarding banditry and pass a resolution creating a special force to apprehend, or if faced with resistance, eliminate those who genuine intelligence shows are guilty of murdering innocent people.

The death penalty must immediately be reinstituted as an end result of a criminal trial for those who are apprehended and found guilty. During their trial the defendants would be held in a specially constructed facility run by the special force.

The law enforcement professionals in the special force would not be picked from the regulars in Guyana. These would be ex-military men from abroad who are now in private law enforcement. Such people are used broadly in other countries.

In Iraq, the United States government uses them extensively and refers to them as "civilian contractors". Each contractor in the security firm should be allowed to stay only a specific time in Guyana and the entire firm would work independently from the Police Force.

A special arrangement would be set up where police intelligence is passed first to the Ministry Of Home Affairs which in turn would provide the information to the special force. This force, of course, would also gather its own criminal intelligence but would only be allowed to act on such after permission from the responsible section of government.

President Jagdeo once said that when he asked the United States for help in terms of law enforcement he was referred by the U.S. government to such private agencies. Take a hint, Mr. President.

All this can be done above board and legally, hence my advice to use parliament to pass the necessary legislation to deal with this as a national emergency requiring an extraordinary approach.

Strong measures need to be taken now.
JUSTIN DE FREITAS

The troops should go into `The Gulf’
BURIED on page 16 of the Stabroek News of April 3rd 2006, read the headline, “Police, gunmen exchange fire at Buxton Funeral of Ryan Beckles”.

This article has far-reaching implications for the future of our country and raises a number of questions.

Firstly, given the content as it relates to current criminal activities, it should have been printed on page one of our dailies. A few years ago it would have – not now as Buxton is a well-known criminal haven

Secondly, the article stated “gunmen” attacked “heavily armed policemen” and there is “customary gunfire that accompanies the burial of gunmen”. One can assume that these “gunmen” (I prefer to call them criminals) are in possession of automatic rifles and unlimited supplies of ammunition.

Their custom of rapid gunfire at funerals indicates a continued source of ammo supplies. Where from, might one assume?

Thirdly, the fourth paragraph linked Beckles to the Agricola massacre. Ballistic tests, tracer rounds, M15 rifle, large possession of high calibre ammo and Ryan Beckles’ police like uniform. How much more evidence does the Joint Services need in their investigations into the massacre?

Finally, homes searched revealed medical supplies and army type bags, hammocks and uniforms. Whose homes were searched and can they provide information?

The failure of the Joint Services to restore peace to Buxton is moving Guyana into a dark era. The Agricola massacre (the worst killing ever recorded in recent history) is only the beginning. More people will continue to die brutally.

Army Chief Brigadier Edward Collins in an interview said that no place in Guyana is beyond the reaches of the law and the Army is authorised to enter and search anywhere.

While the Guyanese people support raids on homes around the city, random searches of civilian vehicles etc. in an effort to recover the missing weapons and bring peace back to our society, we would like Brigadier Collins to go into the area in Buxton known as The Gulf. The area where the body of Mr. Waddell was taken by gunmen, but which the police and citizens of Guyana were not allowed to enter.

Guyanese are becoming weary of public relation activities disguised as efforts to address national security issues that the police and Army are engaging in.

Mr. Winston Felix and Mr. Collins should be both held accountable for their failures in addressing the Buxton/Agricola situation. We want them to address the Buxton/Agricola situation urgently.

We want results.
CONCERNED

Hold the faith
SECURITY in our country has remained a serious matter of concern to all Guyanese and it is becoming more and more questionable with the recent assassination of acting Minister of Agriculture Satyadeow Sawh, a hard-working and dedicated son of the soil.

It is so unfortunate that this assassination will no doubt go down as part of Guyanese history and more so the lack of credibility in our national security will remain.

It is already on the agenda of discussion among the ordinary Guyanese that security is of grave concern when a minister of government who is expected to be under the protection of the State is brutally assassinated by criminal elements.

I trust that the government will do all in its power to ensure that peace and stability remains in this beautiful country.

President Jagdeo, in his touching message to the nation after the killing, said that he will do all in his power to ensure justice prevails and those criminal elements and all their endeavours are destroyed.

It is so unfortunate that these tragic incidences come in the way at a time when there is significant development in our country.

I call on all Guyanese citizens to hold the faith and never lose confidence in this beautiful land though it may seem very hard to do.

I extend my deepest condolences to the relatives and close friends of Minister Sawh and hope that his family holds strong in these treacherous times.
ALICIA GRIFFITH

The world is watching
THE midnight massacre of Guyana's personification of heroism, patriotism, loyalty, trust, dedication and sacrifice, demands the condemnation of all law-abiding and decent Guyanese.

Such an act of perfidy, cruelty and inhumanity deserves the condemnation of the whole world.

The brutal massacre of this peace-loving family, whose love and respect for all things Guyana, betrayed their trust and snuffed the bright lights that kindled their hearts. The perpetrators of this act of barbarism have not gained victory, but have darkened their own lives so much more, for they have left the world a darker place to live.

But light always prevails over darkness, for the Sawh family always carried the bright torch of life and enlightenment.

Their sacrifice is a lesson, as there is always a lesson in cruelty, frustration and separation. It is that others, whose lives have a high profile in society, must never let their guard down. It is always your first duty to be on the guard and protect yourself and your family.

The unknown is not worthy of trust.

Justice in Guyana is now on trial and the world is watching.

Or has justice fled to the brutish beasts and men have lost their reason?
D. PRASAD

It must stop
HE WAS my cousin; his Nana (his mother’s father) and my Agee (my father’s mother) were brother and sister.

My father, Mello Khan and his mother, known to us as Aunty Maudy, were first cousins, so we were blood second cousins.

He was also my friend and my colleague, and even though we supported different political causes, we were respectful to each other. His wife Sattie frequented my store and she, like Sash, was always pleasant and had a smile on her face.

In the last 15 years prior to her death, Sash’s late mom and my mom, who is now also gravely ill, became very close friends. They travelled together, visited England, Holland, and Miami and made it a point to speak with each other almost daily on the phone. Both Sash and I were aware of this development and we were pleased for the ‘old ladies’.

His senseless killing, killing of my other cousins, Julie and Rajpat and Sash’s security guard, is another on the list of senseless violent occurrences that now grip Guyana. No good can come out of this; nothing positive can come out of this kind of conduct and behaviour; they cannot be explained philosophically as necessary interactions from which some good may emerge.

It must stop. We need peace not war.

As human beings we all react differently to situations; some can pick themselves up and move on the next day. I am not of that ilk. I abhor violence and killings.

Ever since the country was gripped by senseless killings following the Mash Day jail break several years ago and the reprisal killings that daily occurred, things have not been the same for me and most Guyanese.

The killing of Jack Rambarran, a personal friend, has also affected us; the killing of Gazz Sheermohammed who is also related to me and a friend, and owner of a property next to my home has also affected us. The killing of Ronald Waddell which took place less than 100 yards away from my residence has added to the scar.

The killing of young unemployed youths and families by death squads are equally repulsive. These I have publicly condemned, but the brutal murder of a minister of government is the worst.

No one can truly express the pain that families feel when their loved ones are brutally killed. I cannot claim to know how they feel, but it affects all of us.

For me, politics can never be the same. Whatever time I have left as given to me by God or by others with insane designs will be spent working for peace, and helping the poor and disadvantaged.

My cousin, friend and colleague in Parliament, Sash, who believed in the same principles, would have endorsed this.

To Sattie, Roger, David, and all the other members of Sash’s family, please accept our love and support. I have heard over the past three days from more cousins in distant places than in the past 25 years. They all ask me to publicly say that God will guide you and bring justice to you and your family.

I think that in the Hindu tradition it is believed that the soul evolves to a different form and level.

Sash, I know yours will fly higher in that evolutionary plain.
JEROME KHAN

Hopelessly wrong
I WISH to respond to an article titled `PNCR PERSPECTIVE’ under the caption “Jagdeo and his PPP/C Government will be illegal after 4th August, 2006

Unless…” published in the Kaieteur News of April 23, 2006.

In this article, the PNCR argues that if the elections are not held within the prescribed time, that is, on or before August 4, 2006, then the government “will become illegal and unconstitutional.”

The PNCR further contends, that for the government to retain its “legality and constitutionality”, it must extend the life of Parliament (which would stand dissolved on May 4, 2006) beyond May 4 through a constitutional amendment, the enactment of which requires a 2/3 majority in the National Assembly of which the government is not possessed.

The argument is summed up thus: “The President and his cabinet therefore cannot constitutionally hold office after 4th August, without parliamentary parties agreeing to this extension”.

I respectfully submit that the aforesaid argumentations adumbrated by the PNCR are wholly misconceived and hopelessly wrong.

Firstly, the PNCR has confused two different and disparate constitutional concepts -- the legality and constitutionality of the executive and the life of Parliament.

The PNCR’s thesis is predicated upon the fallacious constitutional hypothesis that the expiration of three months subsequent to the dissolution of Parliament, ipso facto and without more, renders the executive, comprising of the President and his cabinet, unconstitutional and illegal.

This is simply erroneous. The constitutionality and the legality of the executive is not contingent upon the life of Parliament. Our Constitution embraces the principle of the continuity of the executive.

Constitutionally, the executive remains in office until voted out of office or ordered to vacate office by a court of competent jurisdiction.

The combined effect of Articles 92 & 178 of the Constitution is that the President continues in office until another person is elected to hold that office.

Article 99 vests in the President, the executive authority of Guyana which may be exercised by him either directly or through officers subordinate to him.

I respectfully submit that these “officers” are the ministers of the government. Therefore, once the President remains in office, so do his ministers, who are merely exercising executive authority which flows from the fountain of the Presidency.

This equation does not change whether there is a Parliament in session or not.

The jurisprudential rationale for the constitutional requirement that the executive functions with a Parliament, is merely to ensure that there is public accountability, constituent representation and the capacity to enact legislation. It does not touch and concern the legality of the executive.

Therefore, whilst the eventuality of an absent Parliament may impact upon the functional capability of the executive, it does not affect its constitutional legitimacy.
MOHABIR ANIL NANDLALL

Horror with us again
MY HEART bleeds for the family of the late Honourable Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Satyadeow Sawh, and for all the others of all colours and creeds who loved and served him with gratitude for his kindness.

A few years ago, when the Honourable Minister of Home Affairs was being vilified and hounded into turning in his Sheriff's badge, I often went cold at the thought of what the likely consequences would be if his enemies were allowed to succeed in their mission.

My fears have come to pass and now I fear for Guyana. We are living literally in a state of emergency.

Where are the foreign governments who vilified the person charged with responsibility for our safety because he did what they have done in the past, and continue to do, to protect their citizens?

Where are the ones who dared to brazenly order the removal of a minister of an independent sovereign state?
RIGHTEOUSLY ANGRY

Good man lost
THE Guyana Government and nation have lost a good man, the Honourable Minister of Fisheries, Other Crops and Livestock, Satyadeow Sawh.

The brutal slaying of this minister, his two siblings and security guard has embedded itself in the country’s horrific history.

Many have been asking the question, why Minister Sawh? Many individuals and groups have since condemned this act while some angry citizens have been calling on the President to make a deadly move in catching and dealing with the perpetrators of this crime.

I’ve seen people like Mr. CN Sharma and some others on the television stations demanding the death penalty for the guilty criminals. What irony is this?

I am quite sure that should the President, his government or the Police Force take such action, they will be highly criticised by these same people who are now calling for it.

Shall we recall the days when the administration was harassed over accusations of `extra judicial’ killings, `Phantom Gang’ and Police `brutality’? When the human rights people were in active blasphemy?

Yes, we are mourning the death of a great man. A man who respected farmers, who fought for the rights and improvement of the life of people in rural areas and a man who believed in the work he did.

I do hope though, that this incident will arouse our support to the government and the Police Force in their endeavours to fight crime in our society, no matter what course they take.
JULIAN MORTAGUE

Guyana deserves better
IN 1992 WHEN the PPP/C gained power to government, things looked up for the better.

Not only the relevant infrastructure such as schools, roads, government buildings were rehabilitated, but a new awaking process was taking place.

Not firing anyone, the Guyana Police Force which used to take years to deliver a citizen’s passport when applied for, was delivering such an item in less than a week. Some cases were reported in less than a day for renewals.

My point? The GPF has all capabilities of doing a better job than it used to do and is presently doing.

Guyana is one of the largest trans-shipment points in the Caribbean for illegal drugs, yet for the year 2004 and 2005, statistics revealed we were only able to apprehend just about 50 kilograms of cocaine, for both years. This is absurd.

Most crimes go unsolved and Police Commissioner Winston Felix’s usual excuse is the matter is under investigation and nothing else is done. No heavy police patrolling to deter crime, no sensible police raids, no nothing. Lawlessness now rules the land.

The Agriculture Minister, Satyadeow Sawh, his family and unarmed guard were slaughtered mercilessly at the hands of assassins. Why were the guards unarmed?

Commissioner Felix said their firearm licences were withdrawn mainly because, "We found persons who were not trained or licensed with firearms in the company in one or two instances...."

One or two instances! Here we have a guard service that a parliamentarian/minister of government chooses to guard and protect the lives of himself and family, and our Commissioner of Police and his colleagues found it best to disarm the entire guard service at a time such as what the country is going through?

Was this an oversight? How many "oversights" will we tolerate?

How many other guard services that protect our Guyanese people, including our politicians, parliamentarians, ministers and Presidents, have our Police Commissioner disarmed?

Why the slothful reaction from the police during the Agricola massacre? Over an hour taken to do a 10-minute response?

Upon taking office a few years ago, Commissioner Felix, when given the mantle, told the Guyanese public to hold him accountable.

After giving him many chances to prove himself, Mr. Felix has failed in his duties and has shown us that this crime situation is beyond him.

As such his services should be terminated immediately and someone more capable of carrying the mantle be given the chance to do a better job. The final straw has broken the camel's back.

The GPF is much more capable of doing a better job.

Guyana can do better and deserves better.
M. KAZAN

Amar was a hero
TWO letters which appeared in your April 22 issue have heightened the sadness which I have been feeling over the tragic death of Cadet Officer Amar Rajcumar, but, before I comment on these, please permit me to express my deepest condolences to his family and particularly his mother.

Only a mother can know the pain that another woman feels when her child is hurt or taken from her and I have grieved for this mother who lost her only son just as he was starting out in his life as an adult. It is difficult to be sure from the photograph but I think that I may have met Amar while he was stationed at the Castellani House. The young man I met stunned me with a degree of sincerity and courtesy that is rare anywhere these days.

I am sure that all of us who read of this tragedy have extended prayers towards his grieving family but it offends the spirit of this boy to use the circumstances of his death as a means of fostering more divisiveness among the living.

It is true that there are more Blacks than Indo-Guyanese in the Disciplined Services yet young Amar chose to make a career among them. This points to his genuine lack of ethnic prejudice but it should in no way be used as a reason for his death.

Brutality exists among peoples of all races and, just as paedophiles and other perverts are drawn to professions in which they will be able to exert authority over potential victims, so too are some deviant persons drawn to military organisations where the practice of brutality, even in peacetime, may be sometimes condoned or overlooked.

Amar did not die because he was an Indo-Guyanese in an organisation which is predominantly Black. To suggest, let alone state, this is to grievously wrong all the decent honourable Black officers in the military and to cause ethnic resentment and tension when collective grieving is required.

We do not know for sure how this young boy died but if it was because a brute chose to practice his craft on a decent young man, then everyone of us should be calling out loudly and clearly for all such persons to be weeded out of positions in which they have such opportunity.

I once personally witnessed a scene in which a property owner, who peacefully prevented the re-entry to his property by a tenant against whom he had obtained a court judgement, was thrown into a vehicle and jumped upon by a policeman called by the tenant.

The policeman and his victim were both Indo-Guyanese.

A few years ago another mother cried when her young son who had just joined the Army was shot during his training. The pain of young Private La Rose’s mother was heightened and extended by the insistence of the authorities that he had committed suicide, by shooting himself in the back of the head, and it was years before it was admitted that he had been murdered by some person or persons unknown.

He was not Indian.

When one of our children falls it is time for all of us to work together to spare the others.

Please do not heap dishonour on Amar’s grave by fostering race-hate in his name.
ELIZABETH ALLEYNE

Cowardly slaying
THE cowardly slaying of Minister of Agriculture (Ag.) Satyadeow Sawh by unknown assassins is an attempt to drive fear into Guyanese.

But Guyanese are stronger than these fools think. Is it dementia or folly that makes these assassins think that they will be getting away with their murderous deeds? I suppose with the creeping old age it must be classed as dementia.

All Guyanese stand united in hunting these political killers.

At least we do not have somebody thanking God for the senseless slaying of Minister of Agriculture (Ag.) Satyadeow Sawh!
Sean Adams