Complaints over racially-inciting remarks skyrocket – ERC

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ERC Chairman John Smith

The Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) has been receiving a “plethora” of racially insensitive and inciting complaints, mainly targeted at politicians and political parties.

According to the ERC, many of these complaints are continuously reported, and mainly emanates through social media posts.

“The Ethnic Relations Commission continues to receive a plethora of complaints which are deemed to be racially insensitive and inciting and which target individuals, politicians and political parties,” the entity said.

While these matters continue to be investigated, the ERC said its capacity was unavoidably reduced, resulting from adherence to COVID-19 protocols. Nevertheless, it continues to work towards investigating complaints, and further highlighted that these incidents continue to incite hatred among the population while further dividing the ethnic makeup.

The ERC added that it, being fully cognisant of the devastating impact these incidents, “which incite race hate and violence, have on the further widening of division among the ethnic groups and the need for investigations to be completed swiftly, seeks the public’s indulgence for understanding. It assures of its continual efforts to work assiduously to have these matters resolved within the shortest possible time.”

Calls were made again for political parties and their supporters to act in a responsible manner and be mindful of their conduct, especially on social media platforms.

The Commission expressed, “regrettably, the Commission cannot conceal its disappointment that such unnecessary attempts to divide our people continue openly despite its repeated calls for cessation and for all who are involved, including political leaders and their supporters, to act in a more responsible manner in the best interest of our dear nation. Those calls are, therefore, reiterated with the fervent hope they will be heeded.”

Earlier this month, People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) lodged a complaint with the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) against APNU/AFC’s Prime Ministerial Candidate Khemraj Ramjattan over racially incendiary remarks he made during a television programme broadcast in Trinidad and Tobago.

The complaint was filed by PPP/C’s Executive Member Anil Nandlall.

According to the letter of complaint, Ramjattan’s remarks are “capable of inciting racial hostilities amongst the people of Guyana, in particular between Indo and Afro Guyanese…”

A few days later, the Commission disclosed that it will officially write to the leaders of all political parties, urging them and their constituents to work towards de-escalating tensions and adherence to law and order.

“The desire for peace and good relations will take genuine and collective efforts by stakeholder groups and individuals. These efforts would also include acceptance of the elections results when they are declared by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM),” the ERC stressed.