Last Updated on Saturday, 1 August 2020, 11:53 by Denis Chabrol
President David Granger says Black Lives Matter and at the same time “All Lives Matter”, even as he again railed against extra-judicial killings under the Bharrat Jagdeo-led People’s Progressive Party (PPP) administration.
“I do believe Black Lives Matter, naturally, and I support the movement and as Leader of a country, as President of a country, All Lives Matter and I hate to see lives being destroyed through crime or through disease,” he said.
He made his position known while fielding questions from a panel of youths during a discussion that was organised by the International Decade for People of African Descent-Guyana.
He said the killing of Black American George Floyd earlier this year under the knee of a White policeman has triggered a global reexamination by African peoples about their history.
He questioned “why should we have to people who enslaves our forefathers, people who profited from the Trans-Atlantic Trade in Captive Africans. He said the time has come for a reexamination of clubs and ethnic organisations while forging mutual respect for each other.
“We have to learn about ourselves, we have to learn about others if we are to generate that respect. Oh yes! Black Lives do matter. My views are very strong. That’s why I’m here tonight (Friday) among you and it’s a movement we should take up not only in the International Decade Assembly but also in the country at large,” he said.
Referring to the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States that was triggered by the killing of Black American George Floyd by a white policeman, he says African People in the Western Hemisphere are generally being treated harshly and indiscriminately.
He says Guyana was not alone in this regard, as he referred to the 2000-2010 violent crime that worsened in 2002 when five prisoners escaped from the Georgetown Prison and spawned in the East Coast Demerara village of Buxton. “In Guyana, we should take this up as well and insist on the dignity of every human being and unfortunately in Guyana, we went through a period between 2000 and 2010 in which seemed that Black lives did not matter,” he said.
The President said during that period that he often calls “the troubles” had seen many Afro-Guyanese being targeted. “There were some underlying factors during those troubles in which a lot of people of African descent were killed and even now it is difficult to get to the bottom of what happened,” he said.
He recalled that the then PPP administration had “to put mildly was tolerant and did not do enough to prevent the massacres which were taking place.”
During the pre-dawn hours of 26th January 2008, 11 mainly East Indian Guyanese were gunned down, on 17th February 2008, 12 mostly Afro and Mixed Guyanese were killed, on 21st June 2008, eight mostly Afro-Guyanese miners were killed. Many residents from neighbouring villages and sugar estate workers had also been killed, kidnapped, abducted and robbed. Following the 2002 escape of five prisoners from the Georgetown Prison, heavily armed gunmen had used Buxton as a staging area to rob, kidnap and kill people in neighbouring and other communities. Among those who had been kidnapped and subsequently released had been the then United States Embassy Regional Security Officer, Steven Lesniak from the Lusignan Golf Course and several Trinidadian workers who had been working on a potable water system on the Annandale Public Road.
The President says he tried to probe the several massacres that had been part of the violent crime wave mainly on the East Coast Demerara.
Mr. Granger said Emancipation was the biggest turning point in the lives of African Guyanese, but emancipation is a continuous process in which people must guard against control and domination by others. “We must realise and recognise that there are other people in this world who are trying to deprive us of this freedom. There are people working to deprive us of that freedom that our forefathers fought for. There are people who are trying to control our minds, control our lives, control the way we go about our daily business and we must make sure that we don’t fall victims to those attempts to dominate us or to discriminate against us… We must be eternally vigilant to make sure that we are not misled to believe that people who not have our best interest in mind are actually going to look after that freedom,” he said.
Meanwhile, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) hailed Africans for crushing fighting for Emancipation. The PPP says it remains proud of the fact that it remains the largest multi-ethnic political party. The party says it continues to welcome all Guyanese into its ranks from all races and ethnicities – who, like Guyanese fore-parents, share their vision of a society grounded on justice and the principle of racial equality. The PPP says Afro Guyanese also want to see a country where governance caters for each and every citizen regardless of race, colour or creed.
The PPP continues to accuse Granger’s A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change coalition of continuing to cling to power, although a national vote recount shows that he has lost the March 2, 2020 general and regional elections.