Commission of Inquiry into violence will bring healing

first_imgDear Editor,Former President and current Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo is reported to have said two days ago that he is not opposed to a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into violence from 1960 to now. Such a CoI is needed to bring racial healing, especially when the races blame each other for the violence.It should be a no-holds-barred inquiry with the commission being granted power to suggest prosecution of those who participated or encouraged or condoned violence. Witnesses should be granted immunity. Those who refuse to testify or withhold evidence should be forced into testifying through a court order and be subjected to criminal prosecution if evidence supports culpability in political violence. Does the government really want and support such an inquiry? There are some figures from that era still around. Let us hear their testimony and if found to have lied, let the commission throw the book at them.Guyanese I have spoken with in Guyana and in the Diaspora fully and unconditionally endorse and support such a commission. I would encourage the starting date be 1957 when the PPP split into two ‘racialised’ factions that would subsequently trigger ethnic violence. The nation needs to know the facts pertaining to politically inspired violence that began with competitive party politics. The starting date (of 1957 or 1960) should not be a major issue of contention; a CoI is needed regardless of timeframe so the public can know the main players behind the violence and their objective and how violence can be prevented.There is much ethnic hatred in the country as a result of the political violence of the 1950s till recently. An inquiry can help to bring about racial healing and forgiveness. And since both major political forces have been trading accusations each other on sponsoring racial violence, an inquiry will guide us on the facts and force both sides to pursue amends. The commission may help us with a proposal on how to prevent ethnic violence.Since the former President said he is in favour of an inquiry, the two sides should meet and finalise the terms of reference.May I suggest that the inquiry focus on four broad aspects: 1) Violence and elections including in riggings. 2) Violence as a destabilising political factor. 3) Violence and ethnic persecution, including kick down doors as a political weapon. 4) Violence against the Indigenous Amerindians, especially during the Rupununi uprising.Yours faithfully,Vishnu Bisramlast_img read more