Walter Rodney CoI report
– said report should not be used as
By Alexis Rodney
While agreeing with the call by People’s Progressive Party’s (PPP) Chief Whip Gail Teixeira, for the final report
of the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry (CoI) be sent to Parliamentary Special Select Committee, executive member of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA), Dr David Hinds has cautioned the two major political units against using the report as a political football, and urged that it be used as a force that could propel a “conversation” against the abuse and misuse of the State Apparatus.
Hinds, speaking with Guyana Times in an exclusive interview, reined in the fact that Guyanese are tired of both the PPP and the People’s National Congress/A Partnership for National Unity (PNC/APNU), using the very inquiry as a “political football”. When the inquiry was first established back in February 2014 by former President Donald Ramotar, and with the allegation that the PNC had killed Dr Rodney, then opposition leader and now President David Granger had maintained that the inquiry was being used as a tool to tarnish the good name of the PNC. Ramotar denied this assertion and pointed to the call made by Dr Rodney’s widow and her children for an investigation into his death.
Some two years later, and with the final report of the Presidential Inquiry being made public, the PPP, now in opposition is very concerned that the details of the report may never be scrutinized. The party’s Teixeira was somewhat emotional during the 37th sitting of the National Assembly earlier this month, when House Speaker Dr Barton Scotland informed that her motion to have the report sent to the committee could not be considered.
Hinds said he wants to believe that Teixeira might have been genuine in her call for the report to be considered for debate in Parliament; however, he was also aware that political parties have a way in turning “genuine things into political footballs.” “I agree that it should be sent to the Parliamentary Select Committee. It should be laid in Parliament and there should be a debate on it. I am not quite sure of the workings of Parliament and what it being sent to the Parliamentary Select Committee is set to achieve… My suspicion of the scenario by the PPP is grounded in the very birth of the Commission of Inquiry,” Hinds told Guyana Times.
He added that he is firmly for justice for Dr Rodney and believes that all Guyanese are: “But for both sides wanting to make it a political football, I am totally against that. It should be laid against Parliament, the President has given his undertaking that it be laid before Parliament. It was handed over to the Speaker and that there will be some level of debate, whether if it is at the level of the select committee or in Parliament, it doesn’t matter. What I want is for it not to be made a political football.”
Hinds, speaking of the call by Teixeira, said if her initiative to get the report before a select committee is to advance a conversation on State and political violence against the opposition, then that is the conversation he wants to be had.
“We are tired of this throwing stones at each other. I think Walter Rodney means more to Guyana, more to the world than to be used to be throwing stones… if the report should be used for anything, it should be used to start a conversation among the leaders and the people, about the misuse of state apparatus against political opponents,” he stressed.
Details coming out of the 18-month investigation, heard evidence from numerous witnesses, that the Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham regime of the 1980s had been very forceful and had used its political power to injure smaller and defenceless political parties. Rodney, a world respected political and social activist, died in June 1980, after a communication device he was examining exploded in his lap.
It was the theory of those close to the founding Leader of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA), that the man he had somewhat come to trust; a then Guyana Defence Force Sergeant and communications expert William Gregory Smith, had implanted the explosive in the device Rodney was expected to test.
The theory claimed too that the Government of the day, the People’s National Congress and its leader Prime Minister Forbes Burnham, had used Smith to carry out the attack.
In the report the three Commissioners – Barbados Queen’s Counsel Richard Cheltenham, Jamaican Queen’s Counsel Jacqueline Samuels-Brown and Trinidad-based Guyanese Senior Counsel Seenath Jairam – concluded that given all the relevant facts, events and circumstances set out in the report, they could do nothing else but establish that William Gregory Smith was not acting alone but had the active and full support, participation and encouragement of, and/or was aided and abetted by the Guyana Police Force (GPF), the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) – both agencies of the State – and the political directorate including Prime Minister Forbes Burnham in the killing of Dr Rodney.