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Have mercy upon us in this modern-day persecution


by Anesia O. Baptiste 28.MAR.08

Many persons are suffering from the results of heavy-handedness and abuse of authority in this country. Their God-given and Constitutional rights and freedoms are trampled upon by those for whom they work or by whom they are taught as the case may be.{{more}}

Normally the culprits hold higher positions over the victims and whenever the latter show any form of protest (lawful) against the anti-rights behavior meted out to them, they are no less than persecuted. I am familiar with a particular case currently taking place at one of the Tertiary level educational institutions here.

The immaturity of character, discrimination, injustice and anti-rights attitudes manifested leave much to be desired from an Institution which is responsible for shaping an important section of young adults, who will in turn influence the children of our society. I assure you that Justice is being pursued. The unfortunate reality is that many such victims will never be able to afford to bring a lawsuit against the perpetrators of injustice.

And others are too unaware of their rights and freedoms (the law) and, therefore, too weak to stand up for themselves.

Refuse to accept authority

People refuse to accept that their position of authority does not and just cannot justify their anti-rights behavior towards those who may hold a lower position. Education on Rights and Freedoms in every section of society is fundamental in any hope of creating a change in mentality here. It is all too common for persons in power to exercise intolerance towards lawful expressions of disagreement on their subordinates’ part-a thing which it is simply within the latter’s constitutional right and freedom to do. This mess prevails almost everywhere we look in our society.

A student expressed a biblical fact during a discussion in a class. She was responding to a comment made by the Tutor. The Tutor took offense and the student was subsequently ordered not to return to the class by the Vice Principal of the Institution. The reason given was that the Tutor was offended at what the student had said. Since when do the feelings of offense get protection over a person’s constitutional freedoms of conscience and expression? The student did not slander the Tutor in her speech. The very details of the discussion show that the Tutor also made remarks which were critical of the student’s views (in this case her religious beliefs). The student showed tolerance and maturity by not appealing to the school’s administration to remove the Tutor from her post. Of course, that would be unheard of right? However, it seems perfectly normal for the Tutor to appeal successfully to administration for the removal of the student from her class. Oh God help us!

Student’s rights

Where is the strength of the teacher for heaven’s sake? Where is her maturity? Where is her respect for the student’s rights and freedoms? Is there no regard for the constitutional rights and freedoms of students in this institution? Administration’s behavior answers a loud “No!” The student lawfully protested the decision by returning to the said class. Not only did the Tutor refuse to teach the class with the student in it but on subsequent occasions other students (males) were used to intimidate the female student by guarding the doors to the classroom from her entering. Imagine that! One of the male student guards even threatened to bring “handcuffs” for her the next time. All of this administration was well aware of and allowed. Even the physical safety of the student was threatened when the Principal of the institution ordered the caretaker to “push her down” as she attempted to enter the class from which she was unlawfully banned. How insubordinate can a student’s actions be that it could be justified for the head of an institution of learning to incite violent actions against her by his orders?

Despite this evident wrong the student is being described as insubordinate, defiant and having a behavioral problem. Why? Because she expressed an unpopular idea to the Tutor? Because she refused to subject herself to a conspiracy to ban her from a course? Because she lawfully protested for her rights’ sake? If all of the above constitute defiance and insubordination, what does the violence encouraged against the student by the Principal’s command constitute? And which is illegal and worthy of prosecution? Why the Institution’s actions of course! On the contrary the so called disciplinary measures taken against the student is nothing but persecution! Modern-Day Persecution in our little island state.

Principal refused attempts to mediation

All this time, efforts had been made to have dialogue with the Institution in question on the matter. The Principal, vice principal and the tutor were addressed in letters. Copies of these letters were also sent to other senior officers within the Ministry of Education and to the Institution’s higher administration. To date…nothing! Legal practitioners attempted dialogue with two of the academic officials involved. One was reported to have “passed the buck” by saying “let them take it to the Ministry of Education”, even though her office is the one directly responsible for the operations of the institution in question.

The Principal of the school blatantly refused attempts to mediation because a certain condition he dictated could not be agreed upon. He also expressed that he has no intention of lifting the ban against the student. No one seems to care that this student’s academic and professional future is at stake. The student has not been able to participate in any tests due to the ban and the course from which she was banned sits its semester exam in less than two months. If she does not complete the course from which she was unlawfully banned, she cannot attain her certification.

All of this is happening because a student used her freedom of conscience and expression in answering a comment from a tutor – a comment made during a class discussion, a comment with which the Tutor clearly disagreed and at which she took offense. Oh God help us in this country! Have mercy upon us in this modern-day persecution with which we are faced! Thank God His ear is not too heavy that he cannot hear, neither is his arm too short that he cannot save.