Eyewitness: What’s rights got to do with…



Your Eyewitness is pecking away at this rumination on “International Day for Human Rights” and wondering how these UN “days” benefit us, poor slobs in Guyana. Especially “Human Rights Day”, coming out of WWII, in which the developed nations dragged the rest of the world into killing 75 MILLION of their fellow human beings (there’s no count of the animals killed), the newly formed United Nations announced their Charter on Human Rights on Dec 10, 1948. Two years later, they launched the “day” and its requisite themes. This year, with COVID-19 in mind, the theme is “Recover Better – Stand Up for Human Rights”.

Presumably, the UN saw some connection between wars and human rights. Maybe because the number of civilians killed was more than twice the number of soldiers, and they felt those civilians had a “human right” not to be slaughtered? The irony, however, was that while the UN was supposed to “turn swords into ploughshares”, the swords were simply turned inwards, as killing of civilians by their own governments and other intra-state violence increased exponentially. While there’s been no official count, your Eyewitness is willing to wager that deaths since WWII have exceeded those during WWII – precisely in violation of the “human rights” identified by the UN Charter!

With all the publicity that’s been given towards incorporating them into our constitutions, we know most of these rights: The right to equality and freedom from discrimination; the right to life, liberty, and personal security; the freedom from torture and degrading treatment; the right to equality before the law; the right to a fair trial; the right to privacy; the freedom of belief and religion; and the freedom of opinion, etc, etc.

During the colonial era, most of these rights were routinely violated by the Brits. But we know, to our cost, that after we got independence, rather than changing for the better, matters got worse. The PNC violated every one of those rights of the Guyanese people for twenty-eight long years, with impunity as Burnham pursued his megalomaniacal drive for absolute power. We just bit the bullet by throwing out the second PNC incarnation under Granger, which had shown every indication of following their master’s footsteps in their patented Human Rights violation – the right to choose one’s government. What to do?
Eleanor Roosevelt said it best: “Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home — so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. […] Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.”
Keep the PNC out!

…ethnic conflict
Ghana, in case you forgot, dear reader, is literally our mirror image. Eons ago, when “Africa” separated and drifted away from “South America”, physical Guyana was connected directly with physical Ghana. Hence, we shouldn’t be surprised that both of us have oil off our shores and gold under our soil!

But the similarities go beyond the geological and historical (we were both British colonies – they the “Gold Coast” and we the “Wild Coast”!) and into the political. While they’re all one “race”, their population is divided into several ethnic groups or “tribes”. Voting along tribal/ethnic lines was blamed for their political instability, which led to economic underdevelopment and inter-ethnic violence.

Since 1992, however, a new constitution was promulgated, which forbade ethnic mobilisation and tried to dissipate its effects by decentralisation, electoral changes etc. However, their just concluded elections ended with ethnic voting, electoral disputes, and 5 deaths that remarkably mirror our March 2 elections!

No wonder foreigners – including Biden – kept confusing Ghana with Guyana!!

…PNC infighting?
In surveys of democratic rights, the “right to vote” invariably trumps others. But while the UN focuses on the right to vote in a government, they ignore the right to choose the leader of their party.
PNC supporters??