The Organization for the Victory of the People (OVP) is calling on every Guyanese citizen to take responsibility for the terrible state of affairs that led to the savage killings of Isaiah and Joel Henry and Haresh Singh. In the words of Martin Carter, “all are involved, all are consumed”. Instead of pointing the finger, surely it is time for each of us to examine our own role in the development of these events.
These innocent teenagers, our children, have paid the deadly price for the systemic racism and the promotion of ethnic division that has been allowed to fester for years. Left unresolved, it has finally consumed us, leading to the current mayhem that such senseless hatred and bigotry inevitably produces.
The youth of Guyana are telling us they are sick and tired of this relentless race hatred and want to move on, but there are too many fossilized elements amongst us who are determined to cling to it, no matter how senseless and how tragic the cost. When will we realize that like it or not, we are in this together, our histories inexorably linked. Maybe this is the moment, a moment when the innocent blood of both African and Indian teenagers has been shed in such a brutal manner. One would think so, however sadly, even after these barbaric killings, many from both sides continue with their hatred, perpetuating the same old tired lies and myths about each other.
Although we must all share in the responsibility for this sordid state of affairs, the misleaders and rank political opportunists in our midst must accept an even larger portion of the blame. Those fake leaders who say one thing to our face and do another thing behind our backs. They have demonstrated that they will do anything to get their hands on the new found oil wealth, including fanning the flames of racial tension and opening our beloved country to the horrors of a race war. Theirs would be a pyrrhic victory. There will be no winners if we continue along this path.
For too long, we have allowed the political elites to use ethnic insecurities to mask the real issue -the silent class struggle. The truth is, that no matter which party is in power, the rich 1% of all ethnicities get richer, while the poor 99% of all ethnicities get poorer. Surely the oppressed and exploited of all ethnicities, having witnessed this “divide and rule” strategy for decades, are finally ready to say enough is enough. What’s more, while we fight each other, foreign corporations plunder our resources at a hideous rate.
African or Indian faces in high places does not translate into empowerment for all African or Indian people. It has simply meant that a small clique of political and business elites have enriched themselves, while the majority of people of all ethnicities remain impoverished and disempowered. This demands radical change.
Our liberation will only come about when the oppressed and exploited Indigenous, African and Indian Guyanese finally refuse to be taken for a ride by those who do not have our interests at heart. We must be our own liberators. We must move ourselves from unconsciousness to consciousness, we must organize and unite like never before to take back our wealth, power and human dignity. No one gives you these rights – you have to demand them and take them. Only then can we finally claim what is currently a hollow cry, One People, One Nation, One Destiny.
We demand swift and decisive justice and the maximum penalty for the killers of Isaiah, Joel and Haresh as a first step toward restoring peace. However, there can be no real and lasting peace in this land until there is racial and economic justice for all.
Gerald A. Perreira
Organization for the Victory of the People (OVP)