Executive Member of the African Cultural Development Association (ACDA), Eric Phillips and Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo are at odds with each other over the issue of racial discrimination and extra-judicial killing of Afro-Guyanese.
Phillips accused Jagdeo of committing a grave and indictable offence and questioned why Afro-Guyanese were sitting down and not demanding his removal from Parliament.
Addressing the claim that the then People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC)-led administration was responsible for the killing of 400 Black men, Jagdeo recalled that his government had asked who were the victims and then a dossier that had been prepared by the then joint opposition had included the names of policemen and who had been killed by bandits in Buxton and those who had been killed by those bandits. “So ask them who are the 400 names because they like to peddle that..,” he told a recent forum on corruption organised by the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC).
The Jagdeo-led administration had been accused of being in bed with now convicted drug lord, Shaheed ‘Roger’ Khan to hunt dangerous and heavily armed criminals. Khan and several associates had been caught in a bullet proof vehicle by a military patrol at Good Hope, East Coast Demerara with sophisticated cellular interception and location computerized system and high-powered weapons. The United Kingdom-based manufacturer had months later testified that the equipment was sold only with government authorization. A letter of authorization purportedly signed by then Health Minister, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy had been tendered in a New York court.
Before Khan was caught in Suriname and sent by rendition from Trinidad to the United States for trial on cocaine trafficking, he had publicly claimed that he had played a major role in preventing a coup against the then PPPC-led government.
While a Commission of Inquiry had also cleared then Home Affairs Minister, Ronald Gajraj of any links to a state-sponsored death squad, he was appointed Guyana’s High Commissioner to India after Western Nations had registered their strong objection to his resumption of office as Home Affairs Minister.
The ACDA official also attacked Jagdeo’s recent remarks at the recently held Eric Williams Memorial Lecture in Miami in which he stated that “we black people” and “we are black people”.
“And he is going to Miami and all over the world and he has the audacity and effrontery to call us our Black brothers. That is an insult to us because we allow him to insult us. We are allowing too many people to insult us,” Phillips said at an event at the Georgetown Seawall to commemorate the African Holocaust.
The ACDA official reiterated that Afro-Guyanese deserve 18 percent of Guyana’s lands to replicate the village movement because “we are the first people to build Guyana” and almost half a million of them died during slavery and the trade in captive Africans. He said Guyanese such a demand should be no reason to classify Afro-Guyanese as racists. “We should not be shameful. We should not be afraid of people calling us racists. I hear that everyday. We are the first people on this earth,” said Phillips who is also employed by the Ministry of the Presidency’s State Asset Recovery Unit.
Jagdeo, who was President from 1999- 2011 prior to the introduction of presidential term limits, dismissed claims by pro-Black organisations and the now APNU+AFC coalition administration that he had unilaterally allocated several radio licenses to his East Indian friends and family. “I am supposed to be racist but they don’t say that six of the ten licenses were given to non-Indians..” he said. He said his friend Dr. Ranjisinghi “Bobby” Ramroop’s media outfit, during a buy-out of Vieria Communications, was awarded a radio licence after the High Court had ruled in his favour. Non-Black recipients include Maxwell Thom, Rudy Grant and Alfro Alphonso.