By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – The National Assembly on Thursday night (June 19), passed a motion calling on President Donald Ramotar to set up a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the December 6, 2011 police shooting in which Opposition Parliamentarians James Bond and Joan Baveghems were shot.
According to Opposition Leader David Granger such an inquiry is necessary, specifically since there is perceived political involvement in the orders given and to ensure that the mistakes made do no recur.
Both parliamentarians (Bond/Baveghems), who took part in the debate in the House on Thursday, were shot along with several other citizens with pellets by members of the Guyana Police Force on Hadfield Street, Georgetown.
They were reportedly protesting the delay in releasing and believed tampering of the results of the just concluded General Elections.
It was during the debate on this motion that Granger pointed out that police shooting in recent years seems to follow a pattern.
“People who look like APNU supporters are shot,” Granger said as he recalled other recent incidents where police would have shot citizens, killing some.
To support his claims of political influence in the shooting incident, Granger recalled that Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee met with five levels of Officer of the Police Force after the incident.
“Who is really in charge? We must separate the sheep from the goat,” Granger said as he described the incident as inexplicable and unacceptable.
Meanwhile, Former Police Commissioner and Opposition MP, Winston Felix supported the Opposition Leader’s claims that police shootings follow a pattern.
He said it appears that the mission of the police on the day in question was to shoot and escalate violence. In this regard, he reiterated the necessity of the Commission to inquire into who were at fault, if police followed standard operating procedures and the corrective measures to be taken.
The call for the COI was rejected during the debates to a large extent by the ruling People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C). Minster Rohee denied that there were any political orders given to the police on the day even as he justified his meeting with the police officers after.
According to Rohee, this is Granger’s sixth call for a COI and rejected the notion that certain citizens in certain parts of the country were being targeted.
“I disagree completely with that assertion.” The government side argued that the matter could be better resolved otherwise rather than establishing a COI.
Both Bond and Baveghems recalled the dreadful ordeal and said they too longed for closure as they welcomed the call for the COI.
“I swore I was going to die and I had already made peace with the lord,” Bond told the House.
The Opposition was adamant that steps needed to be taken to discourage the recurrence of such activities. The Alliance for Change also supported the call for the COI.