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Irresponsible, dangerous and unacceptable

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03.DEC.10

Editor: The caption of my letter expresses how I describe recent statements, reported to have been made by the Honorable Prime Minister of this Country-Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, in reaction to the alleged beating of three women in Chateaubelair last week. I make specific reference to the PM’s remarks under the subheading “PM upset over beating of women” of a story by journalist Dayle Dasilva, carried on page 1 and 2 of the Searchlight’s midweek paper of Tuesday, November 23, 2010.{{more}} I am upset at the language used and their implications, even as we have already seen violent incidents in this election period.

A Prime Minister is supposed to be a voice of reason; one that can appease and comfort citizens by his/her appeals, sympathy and maturity in handling situations, all without any sort of partisan political bias. After all, he/she is PM of all the people. It is evident that emotions run high and some people have persecutive intolerance towards political opponents and as such we have seen recent violent actions against people over political differences. About two weeks ago we learnt how a man was arrested by local police for having assaulted the Secretary of the Opposition leader, while she peacefully observed a registration process. It is said she merely asked a registrant a question, which he answered, and then was assaulted by another individual who questioned her authority to ask persons questions. News also broke about the cutting of cables belonging to the Nice Radio station – an act that was seen as an attempt to sabotage the transmission of meetings of the NDP known to be broadcast by this said radio station.

Further still was the shooting at Calypsonian “Jinny” just after he had spoken and performed at an NDP meeting in Mesopotamia. I was shocked because I was on that same stage with “Jinny” that night and shuddered at the thought that the man whom I had just seen could have been dead a few hours later. The Opposition Leader made a statement against these three episodes, condemning the acts and calling upon the nation for peace and calm. Nothing was heard from the Prime Minister.

Most recently, it was reported that three women from Chateaubelair were beaten up, supposedly by NDP supporters, over an incident involving painting political symbol in the street, and their opponents’ unwillingness to tolerate their activity. Dayle Dasilva reported on the PM’s reactions “from the home of Yuclan Thompson”. The PM’s words: “We have a lot of hypocrisy coming from the Opposition and their thugs are setting up on our own supporters and then they are the ones saying that they want peace” and “…they speaking peace and waging war…they have turned to violence and desperation as they wage war while speaking peace” are misleading, misrepresentative of the opposition leadership and instigating in influence. The charge of hypocrisy can only be reasonably assumed to be levied at the Opposition Leader, since he is the one who called for peace. Yet this charge also assumes that the Opposition Leader orchestrated the attack on the three women. PM Gonsalves ought to know that leaders cannot always be held responsible for what their followers do. Otherwise, are we to presume that it was the PM who told the shooters, the attacker and the cable-cutter to do what they did in the incidents outlined above? No! For this reason the Opposition Leader did not lay blame on the ULP’s leadership or the PM himself when he made his statement calling for peace. PM’s words are evil speculation, which are potentially damaging to the Opposition leadership’s reputation. Moreover, they have the potential to incite negative reactions by his followers to the subject(s) he blames.

This is dangerous, coming from the PM in such a time. We can do without the PM making such careless, damaging and potentially inciting to violence statements. Maybe Dayle left it out, but I did not read in his reporting any reference to the PM calling for peace and quiet from the citizenry. Instead, we heard that there was a planned march in solidarity with the women who were injured, for Thursday, November 25, 2010, and that the PM was expected to be in attendance. This is not a march that was advertised before. Yet we knew beforehand the opposition supporters were expected to be travelling up to Sion Hill for the Referendum anniversary rally of the NDP. Is this ULP decision in anyway helpful to the situation? Not at all! Thank God NDP supporters travelled up by boat and there was no crossing of paths on North Leeward streets. I hope that the PM is not in any way looking for a clash of parties to justify the calling of a state of emergency, to rob us of our voting rights come December 13, 2010….I hope it’s not so. His words and behaviour as a leader, in this instance, were rather irresponsible!

Anesia O. Baptiste

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