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Stabroek News' editorials push the opposition's line

Monday, May 24th 2004

Dear Editor,

The Stabroek News has become the opposition's chief whip. On January 12, 2004 the Stabroek News in an editorial entitled, "Boiling Point," called for the government of Guyana to have the death squad allegations placed in front of the Disciplined Services Com-mission. The editorial bubbled over in support of the capacity of a local democratic institution, such as the Disciplined Services Com-mission, to resolve the death squad allegations. Five months after, it has reversed itself and now finds itself as a torch-bearer in the opposition's camp.

Ramsammy-media-reports  Body_pile_up  Roger-Khan-sentencing.  Roger-Khan-Pemberton

Stabroek News was never a neutral observer when it came to the death squad allegations. As this year unfolded, the Stabroek News found itself directing the opposition's crusade against the government.

The Stabroek News offered a lifeline to the opposition to keep this flagging issue alive. Its editorials on this issue soon began to mirror - some may say even direct - the opposition's campaign against the Minister of Home Affairs, Ronald Gajraj.

The Stabroek News pursued a relentless campaign to malign the government and fabricate a criminal association between the Minister of Home Affairs and the so-called phantom squad. Almost on a daily basis, since George Bacchus's rhapsodic revelations, the Stabroek News left few stones unturned in its quest to have the government indicted for state-sponsored terrorism. Editorial inconsistency, however, cannot be hidden easily.

Stabroek News, for example, began to change its position on many issues, notably on the Haitian question. Like a finless fish, the Stabroek News has also drifted with the tide as regards its editorial position on the death squad issue. Helpless and unable to steer its own path, it clung desperately to the deadwood provided by the combined opposition's stance on the issue.

The Stabroek News editorial of Sunday May 16 therefore came as no surprise. It read like a précis of the joint statement issued by the opposition in reaction to the appointment of a presidential commission of enquiry into the death squad allegations. Not only is the Stabroek News' editorial position in absolute and total unison with the opposition, that newspaper has now lost all confidence in the capacity of local democratic institutions to conduct the enquiry. In an editorial of Monday May 17, 2004 entitled, "America and the images" it holds up the bipartisanship of the US Congress as a model for our own legislature. Why is the Stabroek News so infatuated by the bipartisan response of the US Congress to the Iraq abuse scandal?

The Stabroek News cannot be so easily fooled. It must by now be aware that neither the American system of checks and balances or its bi-partisan Congress has ever stopped state-sponsored torture, both as a foreign policy instrument and as extensively practiced in penal institutions within the United States of America. In the words of Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair, torture is as American as apple pie. They point to the public rebuke of America by the United Nations in 2000 for its record in preventing torture and other degrading forms of punishment. So why did the Stabroek News laud this system of checks and balances and bipartisanship? The nexus to the drifting position of the newspaper's editorials cannot be missed.

The Stabroek News is advancing the cause of bipartisanship to support its natural ally, the political opposition in Guyana, which has rejected the Presidential Commission of Enquiry because it was constituted without their input. What better way to promote the new opposition demand that it has to be consulted in the appointment of the members of the commission than to point to the virtues of bipartisanship within the US Congress.

Yours faithfully,

Alana Johnson


Should this informant be believed?

Thursday, January 15th 2004

Dear Editor,

A criminal, with his own personal motivations, alleges that the Minister of Home Affairs has been involved in the killings of several persons over a period of time. This same criminal claims that he was involved in the killing gang, but had a falling-out.

The Minister of Home Affairs in an impromptu statement stated categorically that when a criminal's 'back is against the wall', he will do anything to save himself - a little lie is insignificant to that criminal. The lengths that he would go to save himself are unlimited. If he has to say that a high priest also played a role in killings, he will do so. So without evidence, whom would responsible persons believe? How feasible is it to believe a criminal as against a Minister of Government? Tomorrow, we might find that another criminal who wants asylum because of a disagreement with his colleagues, decides to say that some high Government official or even a member of the opposition is involved with Saddam Hussein. Is our society so gullible that we tend to believe all that we hear?

Yours faithfully,

Rebecca Brown


Many of the killings were due to criminals, not the Phantom

Wednesday, January 21st 2004

Dear Editor,

The PNC/R is relying on very flimsy evidence to try to build a case on their allegations of "state-sponsored" terrorism. There is no way they can try to make such an allegation based on the killings of, as they say, the last 14-24 months. Are they trying to tell us that all the killings in and around Buxton from February 2002 when passengers in minibuses and other vehicles passing through Buxton were robbed and several killed were all a part of "state-terrorism"? Such an allegation is totally ridiculous and cannot be supported. It looks like what the PNC/R is trying to do is to cover their tracks and their record over this period of time, when they were accused of being closely associated with the violence and try to deflect the blame on to the government, by creating confusion in the minds of people. They will not succeed in their attempt to tarnish the Government.

Yours faithfully,

Malcolm Alli


I prefer the Phantoms to the criminals

Wednesday, January 21st 2004

Dear Editor,

I've heard the call from certain sectors of our society calling for an investigation of the so called "Phantom" group and for the dismantling and possible imprisonment of its members.

The last time such a call was made was in connection with the Quick Reaction Group of the Guyana Police Force, but history recalls that as soon as the Quick Reaction Squad was dismantled, every petty criminal and gun toting murderer came out of their holes and created havoc on the lives of ordinary Guyanese. Robbery, kidnapping and murder became a way of life in Guyana with the majority of us on the receiving end of this horrible period.

Can the PNC, WPA and ACDA give us the assurance that once the "Phantoms" are retired, those vicious cut-throats and AK47 killers who once controlled Bux-ton and who are now in hiding thanks to the "Phantoms" will not suddenly return and restart their reign of terror since we all know that the Police and the Army are incapable of dealing with these killers.

AK47 weapon

For me the choice is easy, it's either the Phantoms or the AK47 killers from Buxton, as for the Police and the Army, I see them in their present state as a waste of national funds.

Yours faithfully,

 Bryan Mackintosh