The PPP/C says it was reliably informed that plans are afoot to have its General Secretary and Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo arrested and charged.
See full statement:
The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) is in receipt of information from a usually reliable source that the Guyana Police Force has been instructed by Congress Place and the Office of the President to arrest, detain and charge Opposition Leader and General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party, Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo M.P., with criminal offence(s) under the Racial Hostility Act, Chapter 23:01, Laws of Guyana, for wilfully exciting or attempting to excite racial hostility in relation to a speech delivered at Babu Jaan, Port Maurant, Corentyne, on the 11th day of March, 2019.
This speech was widely covered in the media. It is devoid of any racial content whatsoever. It simply called upon all Guyanese to reject the Government, including the President and the Prime Minister, after March 21, 2019, “by chasing them”, since as from that date, the Government would have become illegal and the President, the Prime Minister and Ministers of the Government would no longer be lawfully entitled to hold their governmental offices because of the successful passage of a no confidence motion passed against the Government in the National Assembly on the 21st December, 2019, and the ruling of the Chief Justice which upheld the validity of that no confidence motion. This speech was delivered before the decision of the Court of Appeal in relation to the no confidence cases.
It must be emphasized that the Leader of the Opposition directed his comments to both the President and the Prime Minister and in fact the entire Government and his appeal was to ALL Guyanese. It is therefore bewildering how these comments can be interpreted as conveying any racial sentiments whatsoever.
Indeed, on the 21st March, 2019, under the stewardship of the Leader of the Opposition, the PPP held protest actions in various regions across the country. These protests were peacefully and lawfully conducted and there was not a single reported incident of violence or racial hostility of any kind emanating therefrom.
We are also aware that television stations that carried a similar statement made by the General Secretary of the PPP at a press conference held on 14th March, 2019, were served with notices dated 11th April, 2019, from the Guyana National Broadcasting Authority (GNBA) urging that they immediately desist from broadcasting such content.
We maintain that the Leader of the Opposition has done nothing other than exercise his democratic, constitutional and political right to be critical of a Government that has flagrantly violated the constitution and would have been occupying governmental office unconstitutionally, tyrannically and undemocratically. In fact, the duties of the Leader of the Opposition include publicly exposing the vulgar constitutional violations being committed by the Government.
What we are witnessing is the unleashing of state power through the medium of the Guyana Police Force and the GNBA to stifle free speech, to assault democracy and abrogate political rights and freedoms. This repeated repressive use of the criminal justice system and the state machinery is intended to restrict the Opposition’s rights and freedom to expose the authoritarian actions of this Government, internationally. It is therefore no coincidence that these actions are being taken after the return of the Leader of the Opposition from international travels where he met with important functionaries and spoke widely with the media in both the Caribbean and the United States in relation to the despotic behaviour of the Government.
We call upon the diplomatic and international community to note Guyana’s rapid descent into a police state. Needless to say that we will continue to internationalize this issue by writing to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, CARICOM, the Organisation of American States, the Commonwealth Secretariat and other international human rights organisations informing them of the atrocities taking place in Guyana.
Finally, we wish to assure the Government that we will not be intimidated but will continue to work to bring Guyana back to a democratic course as we strive for a better and more united country.
People’s Progressive Party
April 15th, 2019