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We need to be more responsible with our statements and actions

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It is difficult in the absence of concrete evidence to point fingers in any particular direction, but it is also reasonable to question whether the worrying incidents of vandalism against political targets bear any correlation to our continuing political hostilities.{{more}}

Our mid-week issue on Tuesday, April 19, had a front-page story on yet another attack on the property of Speaker of the House of Assembly, Hon. Jomo Thomas. The report indicated that the tyres of two vehicles were slashed last Friday night, an incident which the Speaker , in trying to downplay its significance, has referred to as “a bit disconcerting”.

But, it was the third such attack on property connected with Mr Thomas in the last six months alone. He was the candidate for the governing Unity Labour Party (ULP) in the last general elections in the South Leeward constituency where he resides. All three attacks have taken place in that location. Twice, in October last year and in March of this year, mysterious fires broke out at his constituency office. The third incident has come much closer home.

These give cause for concern given the office which Mr Thomas holds. More “disconcerting”, to use the words of the Speaker, is the fact that these are not the only such incidents in which persons or institutions with political connections are involved. Just after the general elections of last December, and in the midst of political challenges by the Opposition to the results of those elections, the Public Works compound at Arnos Vale, a political target in the elections, was burnt down, causing the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars of building materials.

That incident had quite naturally political repercussions with the Opposition Leader objecting to what he felt were political insinuations on the part of the Prime Minister in his statement on the matter. Ironically, a few weeks ago, the Headquarters of the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP), suffered what the Opposition Leader called an attempt at arson. He was not shy in publicly speculating whether the incident bore any relation to the recent court challenge by the NDP to the election results.

All these incidents have occurred within a political climate that continues to be politically charged. In this atmosphere, irresponsibility thrives, and those who seem to have little regard for the negative effects or consequences of their words and actions continue to abuse the media, the radio and social media, with reckless abandon. These certainly do not contribute towards an atmosphere of respect for life, limb, person or property.

One can point towards a number of exhortations on the social media and statements on public radio, which spoke of the need for acts of violence against political targets. There has been a deafening silence on these from some quarters.

As we indicated, whilst no evidence has been brought forward to link any of these incidents to political inspiration, it behoves all of us as citizens to try to avoid statements or actions which, wittingly or unwittingly, contribute towards this far from satisfactory state of affairs.

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