Last Updated on Tuesday, 4 May 2021, 20:16 by Denis Chabrol
Opposition APNU+AFC parliamentarian Amanza Walton-Desir said she told police that she feared City businessman Roshan Khan’s call for her to be “marked” because she said the support-base of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) was “mentally lazy people.”
But Mr. Khan later appeared on YouTube, defending his call for her to be “marked”, saying he was merely urging Indo-Guyanese to ignore the People’s National Congress Reform-led coalition at the next general and regional elections if there was no apology. “Certain persons, political spinners are trying to spin the word ‘mark’. Mark the moment in time when this was said, mark the words that were used and by whom and mark them to remember when they come to ask for your votes because they will come to ask for your vote, being a politician and unless they offer the necessary corrective words and show care and concern for all then they must be marked not to be listened to and not to be voted for,” he said.
The PPP and its allied Indian Arrival Committee (IAC) have since expressed concern about Ms. Walton-Desir’s comments, and the non-governmental organisation plans to lodge a complaint with the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) whose life has come to an end. She said on a Facebook discussion with opposition activist and political scientist David Hinds that PPP supporters were being easily manipulated by their party rather than being free and enjoying self-determination. “They are a bunch of mentally lazy people and so the PPP understands this very, very well and they capitalise on it,” she said.
Speaking with reporters outside the CID Headquarters on Tuesday, she denied saying so. “I will continue to say that at no point did I make that statement about Indo-Guyanese.” she said. At the same time, she urged Guyanese to come to a point to grapple with serious “developmental” issues such as reliable electricity and Internet services, the COVID-19 pandemic and related learning gaps and rising cost-of-living. Ms. Walton-Desir slammed those who she said were stoking racial tensions against her by Indo-Guyanese, saying they had no genuine interest in resolving the race question in Guyana. “They prefer to lynch Amanza but I will say this: I hope that when the lynching of Amanza is completed that we sit down and we have the conversation about race but I bet you that all of them that are creating this firestorm will not want to have that conversation on race because what I said remains. There are those in our society that do not wish to see a united Guyana, they are those in our society who benefit from a divided Guyana to the extent that they will twist my words to prey on the fears and the insecurity of some,” she said. She appealed for a ‘New Guyana’ even as she said she was tired of hearing about the historic race realities in Guyana.
Mr. Khan, who is no stranger to controversy because of Social Media comments he had made during the 2020 general election campaign while he was an ERC Commissioner, has been incensed by the APNU+AFC lawmaker’s comments, prompting him to call on Indo-Guyanese, Afro-Guyanese and all other ethnicities to call for her expulsion and protest against her. “Indo-Guyanese need to picket Parliament and her home and everywhere she is or goes. Supported by Afri and all ethnicities!!,” he said. Labelling Ms. Walton-Desir an “evil one of hate”, Mr. Khan further urged that “we must target her with sleeplessness via peaceful means.”
The opposition legislator insisted that she was not taking Mr. Khan’s “marked” comment lightly and she has included this in written and oral statements to police because he has access to weaponry as the owner of a security company. “What concerns me is that these statements are coming from a man that has one of the largest security firms in Guyana and, therefore, has access to significant weaponry and so I am not prepared to let it be,” said Ms. Walton-Desir, an Attorney-at-Law by profession. Asked whether she included that concern in any of her statements to police, she said she stated how she felt in a statement and to the police verbally.
Mr. Khan urged her to admit that she made a mistake and move one. “Amanza Walton Desir is an intellectual and needs to pleasantly address Guyanese and express regrets to create the harmony and love we all so desire as one people. This is a grand opportunity to create positives from a major error. I stretch my hands in dignity and respect,” he said.
Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon had frowned on Mr. Khan’s utterances during the election campaign in an address to the ERC’s first national conversation on race relations.
The opposition coalition draws the bulk of its support from Afro-Guyanese and the PPP from Indo-Guyanese.