September 29, 2016

The silence is broken, now what!

The recent release of the Report of the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) that Forbes Burnham and his military and police dictatorship was responsible for the murder of Walter Rodney is not surprising. The response from President David Granger that the Report of the Inquiry is flawed is not surprising. What is surprising is that there is no surprise at all. Guyanese, from all walks of life, including some who are now in control of Government, know that Rodney’s untimely death is connected somehow to the PNC. The confusion is the cover-up of the particulars such as how the plan was hatched and eventually executed. There are also some missing links and unanswered questions. For instance, why was Rodney in the vicinity of Camp Street when he was killed? Why did he have a bomb in his hands? How come a few from the WPA did not testify during the Inquiry?

Further assessment of the Report – if released to the public – by PNC defenders, national and international researchers can bring some additional credibility as to what transpired in the execution of Rodney. It will be misleading to conclude that the search for the real reasons for Rodney’s death will stop with the Report of CoI.

A majority of Guyanese did not expect the PNC to accept the findings. The PNC has always denied any involvement in Rodney’s death, opposed or at least had questions about the CoI and terminated the CoI prematurely against the wishes of many. The two latter positions seem to be that PPP was using the CoI to gain political mileage leading up to the May 2015 General Election. That may be so, but if the PNC accepts any involvement in Rodney’s death, that would translate into guilt, tarnishing and thrashing Burnham’s image – one of the forever founding fathers of Guyana. This is sacred ground for the PNC. Equally troubling for the PNC is that history books will have to factor in the killing of Rodney by the Burnham regime during post-independence Guyana. Can you imagine this happening? Perhaps, since the current President is in the mood of national reconciliation. Unfortunately, this issue seems to be low on the President’s agenda. You would think that the findings would provide the President and the nation with a golden opportunity to start the programme of healing and reconciliation instead of mud-slinging. Say look, we cannot deny the findings.

We can question some of it. But the main finding is that Rodney was killed when Guyana was governed by the most brutal dictatorship in the Caribbean. Some of us were forced to follow orders against our wishes in exchange for sinecures. But we must take some responsibility for Rodney’s death. We must now instil trust in our people that our government, our military and our police will not repeat the brutal past.
So far, quite the opposite has happened: denial and more denial. Moreover, the silence from Dr Rupert Roopnaraine, who was second in command in the WPA when Rodney was killed, is deafening.  The lust for power can do strange things to some people. I wonder what Dr Horace Campbell is thinking, a Jamaican scholar who has been very close to the WPA before and after Rodney’s murder. I wonder what Campbell thinks now since Roopnaraine is with the PNC camp.

Special minds are required to figure out why Roopnaraine and some from the AFC choose to remain silent. To blame the CoI or any other entity for being subjective in pursuing the real cause of Rodney’s death would constitute a double murder of this scholar. The first is physical which already happened and the second is the disrespect for human rights, eschewing and denying that Rodney was not murdered.

We know that the current silence from some quarters on the findings is not an oversight. The Guyana Chronicle and Kaieteur News – the mouthpieces of the Government and the tabloids of the nation – chose to publish glowing reports on Burnham’s 93rdbirthday. One wonders what will happen when he reaches 100 years. The circumstances and conditions under which journalists and columnists work under at the two tabloids are unfortunate.

Finally, may I ask if it is possible for someone to print over 2000 t-shirts with an explicit logo showing that Rodney was killed by Burnham and distribute them during the 50 years’ independence celebration throughout Guyana, but particularly in Georgetown, free of charge? I accepted a t-Shirt that reads “BLACK LIVES MATTER” (lomarsh.roopnarine@jsums.edu)

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