Friday, July 3, 2009

Oliver Hinckson's Detention and Hindu Nationalist Racism in Guyana


In the article “The Marginalization of Persons of African Origin in Guyana ) we posited the not improbable position that Guyana was now being used as a grand experiment in Hindutva, with the current administration now using its sizeable control over the judiciary (it has already compromised the Ethnic Relations Commission) to promote another “Mark Benschop” detention scenario ( ; that provocation failed due to a remarkable level of restraint … or unconcern? … from the opposition) that could further escalate racial tensions. With Hinckson, it’s now open season.

To what end this latest provocative act, one may well ask? The available evidence tells us much …

First, we had posited, courtesy of the well researched article in Appendix A (3) of “The Foreign Exchange of Hate: IDRF and the American Funding of Hindutva” ( that other Hindus in the Diaspora and India itself have agreed with Kean Gibson’s iconoclastic reviews (“The Cycle of Racial Oppression in Guyana”; “Sacred Duty: Hinduism and Violence in Guyana”) that there is a cultural, and almost inevitable and predictable, threat to minorities in multicultural/multiracial societies courtesy of the operation of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), with violence and provocation as its integral part. We ignore the operation of these groups in the Caribbean at our peril. Vishal Mangalwadii has offered that Hinduism is incompatible with democracy. The one spells the death of the other. Part 1 (excerpt below) shows us that provocation and incitement to societal chaos are integral to Hindutva.

Secondly, Robert H. Knight had reminded us that societal chaos ushers in tyrants who promise to restore order by any means. Sir Michael Davies has found enough institutional evidence (Part 2 below) for Guyana in the report “Needs Assessment of the Guyana National Assembly”; and its sequel (“Addendum to the Needs Assessment of the Guyana National Assembly”;

For us in the Caribbean, however, the orchestration of “societal chaos” by the current administration will almost certainly achieve its end-game in a rejection of police/military/institutional help from CARICOM given the historical relevance (and stability) of our sister states, in favour of an infusion of same from India. Apart from the obvious effort to protect the “criminalization” of the state alluded to by Dr. Clive Thomas below, the racist implications of such a development (military/institutional infusions from India) for Guyana and the Caribbean are obvious:

“.... Guyana needs intervention at the macro/national, intermediate/meso and the micro/local levels, Thomas said. He listed, "the superficiality of national unity, the dynamics of racial arithmetic and insecurity and the unrelenting rise of both benign and militant extremism." Guyana's predicament, he said, was compounded by the depth, scale, complexity and sheer persistence of economic misery and the growth of the narco-economy. He added that the country's entrenched totalitarianism in a multiracial society combined with territorial threats and the criminalisation of the state all played their part. Thomas asserted that Guyana's political and social crisis could not be solved without the intervention of the international community in the broader sense of creating the foundation for some resolution. "Just as our development problems are so acute that we cannot solve them without the support of the regional and international community, similarly, our political crisis requires this type of intervention." Asked to expand on the term `structural deadlock' during the debate that followed his remarks, Thomas alluded to the government's initial objections to the symposium and their attempts to review presenters' papers prior to actual presentation....”(Source: Dr. Clive Thomas: "International Conference on Governance, Conflict Analysis and Conflict Resolution," Georgetown, Guyana February 2004)

Thirdly, we had noted with alarm the increasing xenophobic rhetoric (in “Efforts to rationalize Hindu Nationalist Racism in Guyana and the Caribbean”; ) that pervaded the atmosphere in recent times as more Hindus in Guyana and abroad join in the litany of racist commentary that is now considered standard fare in Guyana. It will come as no surprise to many that Swami Aksharananda (local head of the RSS in Guyana) has careful to point out to his Trinidadian counterparts that for Guyana “Indian men forged unions with black women, not marriages.” We had attempted to assess this phenomenon of putrid self-serving hatred in greater detail in “The Case for Scholarship in Kean Gibson’s Book” and “77 Questions Ignored by the Ethnic Relations Commission in reaching its decision on Kean Gibson’s Book”.

Finally, we have already posited the enormous step in the classic deployment of Hindutva modus operandi (green highlights in Parts 1 and 3 below) that the distribution of 30,012 gun licences to its ethnic supporters between 1992 and 1999 represented (see the online story “30012 Gun Licences Guyana Review June 1999”). The amount may have doubled by now. The ERC refuses to acknowledge its constitutional mandate to force the government, and Police, to account for the ethnicity of the tally.

And now, in four parts below, an attempt to expose the step-by-step operationalization of Hindutva methodology in Guyana through the detention of Oliver Hinckson on charges of sedition, and the unrelenting encouragement of a national crisis. Please take careful note of the authors of the pieces quoted. …

Roger Williams
Georgetown, Guyana,
March 17, 2008;


A.3 The Effects of Hindutva: Violent Pogroms and the Destruction of a Multicultural Society

“.... Violence is a core aspect of Hindutva. It has never been shy of advocating violence for the achievement of its goals of a Hindu Rashtra. It depicts ‘Hinduism’ as constantly under threat from external/foreign forces (of Islam, Christianity and ‘Secularism’), and hence, portrays violence against Muslims, Christians and advocates of pluralism in India as a form of ‘self-defense.’ This, self defense is further positioned as the process of regeneration of Hindu manhood. This twin trope of self-defense and a lost manhood that is in need of recovery are part of the daily rhetoric of Hindutva. This psychological justification of violence is under girded by a more open strategic and essential appreciation of it – some of which we have already recorded in this appendix – whether it be Golwalkar’s open appreciation for the efforts to “purge” the German nation of all Jews by the Nazis, or Moonje’s hope that the RSS would create conditions of a “military regeneration of Hindus”, and prepare “our boys in the game of killing masses of people.” Here violence is clearly both essential to purge the nation of all that it does not desire, and strategic in Golwalkar’s goal to ensure that the minorities live in fear and seek no privileges.

There is ample evidence that this essential and strategic understanding of violence is central to the Hindutva project. Numerous government reports have clearly indicted the Sangh for fomenting communal violence:

“If the Jaganmohan Reddy Commission on the Ahmedabad riots (1969) and the Madan Commission on the Bhiwandi riots (1970) exposed the Unified Front tactics of the RSS and its political wing, the Jan Sangh, ancestor of the BJP, Justice Vithayathil’s report on the Tellicherry riots (1971) censured the RSS for ‘rousing up’ communal feelings and for ’preparing the background for the disturbances’. Justice Jitendra Narain’s Report on the Jamshedpur riots (1979) censured the RSS supremo M.D Deoras personally for the communal propaganda that had caused the riots. The RSS had held a conference there ‘only four days before the Ram Navami festival (when the riots erupted) and the speech delivered by Balasaheb Deoras contributed their full share in fomenting these communal feelings’. The RSS had created ‘a climate for these disturbances’. The report of Justice P Venugopal of the Madras High Court, on the riots in Kanyakumari in March 1982, found the RSS guilty of fomenting anti-Christian feelings: ‘It has taken upon itself the task to teach the minority their place and if they are not willing to learn their place, teach them a lesson. The RSS has given respectability to communalism and communal riots and demoralise (sic) administration.’ ” [65]

With a history of inciting and conducting violent campaigns going back to the partition of India and Pakistan, for the RSS violence is part of a strategy of breaking the back of an integrated multi-religious society and creating polarized communities of Hindus, Muslims and Christians. In a recent film on the RSS – “Men in the Tree” – filmmaker Lalit Vachani records a series of critical interviews with former RSS members – D. R. Goyal and Purshottam Agrawal. Both men speak openly of how it was part of their work as RSS swayamsevaks to create and spread rumors that would produce conditions conducive for a communal riot. The gradual but continuos polarization of the religious communities through violence is a fundamental fact of the Sangh strategy.

As Hindutva has grown more and more powerful and gained State power over the years, its strategic use of riots to polarize religious communities has slowly began to transform into a process of fundamentally destroying and displacing minority communities. In other words, over the last decade religious violence in India is no longer cases of Hindutva cadre fighting a Muslim or Christian right wing forces cadre on the streets but has increasingly become organized pogroms to eliminate and reduce minority communities to rubble. The recent Gujarat riot is a case in point....”


Can we learn about the operationalization of Hindutva from other states, perhaps Fiji? The two articles below show how easy it is for the kettle to call the pot black when the situation is reversed.

"Canadian Professor Counters the Universal Perception of Indian-as-Victim"

“.... As for Indians, they must wake up to the fact that they are not innocent hostages to the constitutional problems of today. The chauvinistic attitudes manifested by many Fijians over the last decade or so – and embodied in the 1990 Constitution – are not simply the product of jealousy at the business and professional success of the Indian community, convenient though it may be for some to believe it. In no small measure they are a direct reaction to the decades of condescension, marginalization and all too frequent naked racism leveled against the host people, culture and traditions. Any vision of creating here a “Little India of the South Pacific”, of developing a society in which Fijians play a secondary role, is a dangerous and futile illusion....”

"Indian protest rocks Malaysia ahead of polls"

“.... Malaysia's ethnic Indian community has staged its biggest anti-government street protest when more than 10,000 protesters defied tear gas and water cannon to voice complaints of racial discrimination ….

Many protesters complained of a lack of educational and business opportunities, saying a government affirmative-action policy in favour of majority ethnic Malays had marginalised them.

Malays make up about 60 percent of the population and, according to official data, remain the poorest group by some average measures such as household income. Opposition groups say the most severe cases of poverty exist among Indians

How will the Guyana government now react to opposition charges of “flimsy” arrests? The words of Sir Michael Davies again remind us of the level of “condescension, marginalization … levelled against the … culture and traditions …” that we can now expect on this issue of detaining citizens willy-nilly on “sedition” charges …

Needs Assessment of the Guyana National Assembly”;
Addendum to the Needs Assessment of the Guyana National Assembly”;

“.... [19] Throughout this report I have identified areas where the separation of powers is not observed in respect of the National Assembly. Meetings of the Assembly are entirely at the whim of the Executive, control of the Order Paper is entirely in the hands of the Executive, the Assembly’s budget is too tightly controlled by the Executive, the staffing of the Assembly is not independent of the Executive and committee work is subject to frustration by the Executive…. [32] Maybe one reason why they do not table more questions is that the Order Paper containing questions and motions submitted to the Clerk and then to the Speaker and cleared by them as in conformity with the Standing Orders has to be sent to the Office of the President which can (and does) strike out questions and motions which the Office does not like. This is quite wrong and an abuse of the privileges of the Assembly. If Opposition Members cannot ask the questions they wish to ask, they will abandon parliamentary process in favour of other action, as they have done in recent years....”.. [Sir Michael Davies: Report of the Commonwealth Senior Parliamentary Staff Advisor to the Guyana National Assembly, 18 February 2005]

PART 3 … Day 8 of Hinckson’s detention

"Withdraw sedition charge against Hinckson – GHRA"
( )
Thursday, March 13th 2008

"... The Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) yesterday expressed "deep dismay" at the institution of a sedition charge against ex-GDF officer Oliver Hinckson and called for its withdrawal while urging the President to act in a statesmanlike manner.

The human rights NGO asserted in a press release that, "the sedition charge is mean-spirited and runs contrary to the spirit of efforts to heal the nation."

In that light the GHRA called on the government to desist and to withdraw the charge against Hinckson "so that the country can move forward in a cooperative spirit."

And the human rights body appealed especially to the President "to play the role of leader and healer of the nation rather than the leader of a partisan faction."

Meantime, the GHRA made it clear that it was not taking a position on the prosecutorial or legal issue involved nor in any way commenting on the legal process.

The release stated, however, that "Guyana is perilously poised on the edge of a precipice and it is the role of government and of the President in particular to act in a statesmanlike manner and to help heal the nation and take it forward on consensual paths towards nation-building for the benefit of all its people."

The human rights body went on to argue that at a time when civil society is engaged with the President in a process to help Guyana deal with its security and political problems, "a fair measure of tolerance and open speech is required."

The GHRA contended that it does not assist the process of engagement between the government and other stakeholders to pursue criminal charges of sedition against Guyanese who are expressing their opinions on the different issues facing the nation. It noted too that Guyana had seen previous occasions when similar charges had been used to detain people for long periods of time basically to shut them up, and this is not in keeping with democracy.

"In a democracy striving for freedom of expression and open dialogue in the society, resort to charges of sedition is archaic and particularly distasteful and unhelpful," the GHRA maintained...."

PART 4 … Day 13 of Hinckson’s detention

"GHRA: Hinckson sedition charge should be withdrawn in national interest!"
Tuesday, March 18th 2008

".... The Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) is again calling for the withdrawal of the sedition charge against ex-GDF Lieutenant Oliver Hinckson, adding that it should be dropped in the national interest.

The human rights NGO is maintaining too that legal charges are frequently withdrawn here, alluding to previous incidents to bolster its case.

The GHRA in a press release indicating its disagreement with Minister Clement Rohee on this issue said "Efforts by the Minister of Home Affairs to project the impression that once charges are laid in this country the legal process is sacrosanct, run counter to both law and popular experience of what takes place."

"The son of a minister," the release recalled, "is charged with causing death by dangerous driving, the matter is settled and charges are withdrawn; policemen are charged with corruption and, lo and behold, charges are withdrawn. Not to mention the long-standing problem of numerous charges withdrawn in sexual offences cases."

The human rights body asserted that, "All we are saying is that somebody out there knows how charges can be withdrawn. We are asking in the national interest that they conjure up this magic in the sedition matter. If it needs to be repeated, the GHRA is not asking the President to involve himself in this matter, because there are other agencies which can consider this proposal."

And the GHRA said further that "for the record, however, and to quell inappropriate indignation, Presidential interventions in the judicial process, as demonstrated by the use of the Presidential prerogative of pardon, is constitutionally protected."

The GHRA also stated that despite its "explicit clarification" that it had never requested President Bharrat Jagdeo to interfere in judicial matters to have sedition charges against Hinckson withdrawn, the State and other media persisted in falsifying the statement.

According to the human rights body, "MTV Channel 65 carried an identical falsification of the GHRA statement, both in its allegation of what the GHRA requested the President to do, and in the additional untruth that the GHRA was tardy in issuing condemnations of the Lusignan and Bartica massacres."

And supporting its contention, the GHRA said its releases "were sent to the State media along with others on January 27 at 3.57 pm, the day after the Lusignan massacre. By that time the GHRA had talked to three of the affected families and assisted family members in the delivery of mattresses to replace those bloodied by the killings. The release on Bartica was sent to the State media along with others on February 20 at 3.21pm, three days after the massacre."

Continuing its complaint against distortions of its earlier release in sections of the media, the GHRA said that the "Sunday Chronicle of March 16, 2008 dedicated an editorial to attacking the GHRA on its statements despite having never published them. In keeping with its regular practice, the Guyana Chronicle published letters from readers attacking the GHRA over statements the newspaper itself never published."

"Both the distortions and the extended slander against the GHRA as an institution," the human rights body maintained, "reinforce once again the need for a vigorous and independent complaints Committee on Broadcasting Standards to which such behaviour can be referred...."

Day 16 of Hinckson’s detention …
"Local lawyers would oppose abolition of sub-judice rule - say it could be refined"
March 21, 2008 (

Amid suggestions that the Bharrat Jagdeo administration could move to abolish the sub-judice rule, which limits the level of discussion on a matter before the courts, local lawyers are arguing that the law must remain, but be refined to cater for today’s realities.

The sub-judice rule is one of many conventions passed down from the British, which Guyana has upheld over the years.

The issue of abolishing the rule came into focus last week when Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr Roger Luncheon, was asked to comment on the Oliver Hinckson’s charges, mindful of the sub-judice rule.

Luncheon told reporters that there were issues of importance that would engage the attention of the administration and the public, and given a general shift worldwide to speak more freely, the administration would not be beyond tabling legislation to abolish the old approach of not being able to say anything. The Cabinet Secretary noted that there were persons who would like the status quo of not being able to comment on matters before the courts to remain, but he felt that this should be abandoned.

Notwithstanding Luncheon’s comments, the rule is still observed in most Commonwealth countries and in the case of Britain, Canada, New Zealand and Australia it has been refined to guide the discourse of parliamentarians.

Fatal mistake:

In an interview with Stabroek News on Wednesday, President of the Guyana Bar Association (GBA) Kashir Khan said the rule of sub judice should not be done away with, but rather codified and refined. He said at present the rule was not in the law books, but it was one of those conventions that had been handed down from the British. Khan argued that over the years most of the countries in the Commonwealth have retained the law, while some have upgraded it. The lawyer said it would be a fatal mistake for the administration to get rid of the rule, noting that it has withstood the test of time and helped to maintain the standard by which citizens view the courts. “We should pass something setting out clear and unambiguous rules as to what could be said and how… there is need for the rule to be refined not thrown out,” the GBA president declared.

On the dangers of repealing the rule, Khan said it could have the real effect of bringing the courts and the entire judicial process into disrepute. He said the rule serves an important role in the administration of justice and as it has withstood all these years it must be retained. The GBA president said that at present, the rule permits limited discussion and reportage of facts on cases before the courts. He said for the most part politicians as well as ordinary citizens had been complying and saw no reason why it should be abandoned. “We would be opening the floodgates of abuse on the judicial process and the very respect citizens have for the courts would be diminished,” Khan argued. According to the lawyer, the rule had been in force to ensure that no one prejudiced the outcome of matters before the courts or tried to influence the judge or magistrate.

Right to free speech:

Attorney-at-law Anil Nandlall, who along with another lawyer, was accused of contempt during the Mark Benschop treason trial after discussing it on a television show, told Stabroek News that while he did not believe the law should be repealed, there was no rule preventing someone from discussing a case before the court in the media. In fact, Nandlall said that the right to discuss a matter before the courts without prejudicing the outcome obtains throughout the English-speaking Commonwealth. Nandlall, who is also a PPP/C MP, cited Article 146 of the Constitution of Guyana, which guarantees to every citizen the right to freedom of expression, which includes the right to free speech, the right to hold opinions and the freedom to receive and impart ideas without interference. He said apart from life itself, he did not conceive a more fundamental of the inalienable rights of a civil society than the right to express oneself. Nandlall asserted that the importance that a democratic society accords to the concept of free expression was eloquently expressed by Justice Beg in the Indian case of Bennet Coleman & Co Ltd. -v- Union of India [1973] AIR 106 at 149. To underscore his point, he quoted Justice Beg as follows: “Political philosophers and historians have taught us that intellectual advances made by our civilisation would have been impossible without freedom of speech and expression. At any rate, political democracy is based on the assumption that such freedom must be jealously guarded. Voltaire expressed a democrat’s faith when he told an adversary in argument ‘I do not agree with a word you say, but I will defend to death your right to say it’. Champions of human freedom of thought and expression, throughout the ages have realised that intellectual paralysis creeps over a society which denies, in however subtle form due freedom of thought and expression to its members.”

On the notion of freedom of expression -vs- sub judice, Nandlall said this apparent antinomy arose in the AG -v- Times Newspapers Ltd [1974] AC 273. In this case, he said, the Times was about to publish certain articles highlighting the plight of mothers who, during pregnancy had used a drug, which resulted in their children being born with certain deformities. These parents, he said, had instituted legal proceedings for compensation and their cases were pending for approximately 12 years. The Attorney General sought and obtained an injunction restraining the publication of these articles on the grounds, inter alia, that the publications would prejudice the pending litigation. The newspaper appealed and the Court of Appeal ruled in favour of the newspaper, holding that the public interest and the freedom of the press to make fair comment outweighed the private interests of the parties.

Nandlall said it was undoubtedly law that when litigation was pending or actively before the court, no one should comment on it in such a way that there was a real or substantial danger of prejudice to the trial or action, for instance by influencing the judge, the jurors, or the witnesses, or even by prejudicing mankind in general against a party. He further noted, that even if the persons making the comment honestly believed it to be true, it was still contempt of court if the comment prejudged the truth before it was ascertained in the proceedings.

“To that rule about fair trial, there is this further rule bringing pressure to bear on a party.” Nandlall said no one shall, by misrepresentation or otherwise bring unfair pressure to bear on one of the parties to a cause so as to force that person to drop his complaint, or to give up his defence, or to come to a settlement on terms, which he would not otherwise have been prepared to entertain. He said that law should be maintained in its full integrity.

“We must not allow trial by newspapers or trial by television or trial by any medium other than the courts of law. But in so stating the law, I would emphasise that it applies only when litigation is pending and is actively in suit before the court.”

Important concept:

Khemraj Ramjattan, co-leader of the Alliance For Change and also a practicing attorney, dismissed Luncheon’s comments as idiocy, adding that the Cabinet Secretary was part of an administration, which had no respect for the rule of law. According to Ramjattan, the sub-judice principle in matters of adjudication was like habeas corpus, which strengthens civil liberty. He said only an administration that was dictatorial and had no respect for the independence of the courts would advocate a ban on such a rule. “What Luncheon has said is absolute nonsense,” Ramjattan charged, noting that the HPS does not understand the underpinnings of the sub-judice principle, which, he said, constituted an important concept in the rule of law. Ramjattan said the basis of the principle is to ensure no undue pressure is put on the adjudication of matters in courts so as to influence the outcome.

“If we were to follow Luncheon and his government everybody would be free to accuse judges and make statements on cases that are before the courts,” Ramjattan said. He added that the press would also be able to prejudice the outcome of cases by influencing jurors with their publications. Ramjattan said maybe Luncheon wanted to see an end to independent adjudication, which was why he made such a suggestion.
The lawyer vowed that any attempt to change the rule would be strenuously opposed, warning that he would not stand idly by to see the administration disregard the rule of law.

Day 18 of Hinckson’s detention …
"Drug trafficking, corruption fuelling criminal violence, Morgan says - terrorists, not ex-servicemen in gangs" (
March 23, 2008

Retired army colonel Carl Morgan said drug trafficking and corruption in high places were responsible for the violent criminal uprising and he dismissed claims that ex-servicemen were behind the two recent mass killings, asserting that there were two gangs, one of which was associated with the drugs trade and the other comprising home-grown terrorists who saw no future in a society offering few opportunities.

Morgan, the current President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce is also the President of the Guyana Legion and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Guyana Veterans Foundation. He told Stabroek News in an interview on Tuesday that several ex-servicemen were particularly disturbed at recent utterances by President Bharrat Jagdeo and other government officials that former soldiers were behind the slaughter of innocents at Lusignan and Bartica.

Morgan said those comments were unfortunate, noting that a quick look at the wanted criminals and those who had been killed would reveal that none of them was an ex-serviceman. “We cannot just apportion blame to anyone and randomly accuse people… If we don’t know who are the killers then let’s stay quiet,” Morgan stated. He said he noticed that Jagdeo, at his recent press conference, attempted to clear the air on the issue, saying that 99% of the servicemen might be living orderly lives. Morgan said this was a welcome development although he was of the firm view that the damage had already been done.
On March 6, government spokesman Dr Roger Luncheon said it was no secret that ex-servicemen were involved with criminal gangs. “I don’t believe it is a secret that many of the gangs have benefited from the presence of former members of the joint services,” Luncheon said at his post-cabinet media briefing. His comments were made two days after former army officers Oliver Hinckson and Dorian Massay had been arrested by the police. Hinckson has since been charged with advocating the commission of a terrorist act and uttering seditious statements. He allegedly made these statements at a City Hall press conference on February 1.


Hinckson had told members of the media that he, along with other servicemen, was prepared to mediate between the gunmen and the authorities to bring calm. Asked whether his organisations were prepared to play a role in any negotiation, Morgan said they were not interested in mediating with criminals. He said what was needed was for the authorities to identify who the people behind the gunmen were and those were the people to be spoken to. He said mediation was only one part of the solution, noting that the authorities had to get to the root of the crime problem and remove the fertile ground on which drug trafficking and corruption thrive.

The former army officer said both the Veterans Foundation and the Guyana Legion could play a role in giving advice and lending their expertise in the fight against crime, but he said they had never been formally asked to do so.

It had been said that a number of ex-servicemen had hit hard times and many of them might have become disgruntled with the political situation and had decided to pick-up arms against the state. Asked whether his association had any knowledge of this, Morgan said no, adding that the members of the Guyana Legion were mostly war veterans who were too weak to fight. He said members of the Veterans Foundation were mainly ex-soldiers who were also not engaged in any type of criminal activity. “Look, those who are not too old to be part of anything are busy trying to make a living,” Morgan commented.

It was put to him that the ex-servicemen did not have to be young and strong to strategise and guide the gunmen. “That is so, but we have no information on that,” the former army officer said.

He said he would not deny that there could be ex-servicemen who had taken the wrong path. However, as far as he was aware, there was no evidence to make any broad statement on a criminal link. “The bulk of the robbery and the killings we see today are being committed by men in their 20s… we see no ex-serviceman on the police wanted list.”

The killers:

Asked who he thought might be behind the killings, Morgan said the country was confronted by two gangs - one linked to the drugs trade and the other a band of home-grown terrorists who have no future in a society where there are few opportunities. He added that certain elements in society especially those with strong connections to narcotics and weapons trafficking have capitalised on these vulnerable groups and have succeeded in using them to carry out their activities. Morgan, who is also the vice chairman of the Private Sector Commission and CEO of MMC Security Force, said it served the purpose of drug dealers to have an unstable society - which was what was prevailing at the moment - as it was easier for them to carry out their nefarious activities. While law enforcement authorities were sidetracked hunting down gunmen, drug shipments were flowing through the country’s porous borders, he said. “But what we face as a nation is not peculiar to us; other Caricom nations are experiencing similar crises, although their problems might be as a result of a different source,” Morgan observed.

Caricom leaders will be meeting next month in Trinidad to discuss and find solutions to stem the tide of violence across the 15-nation bloc. On January 26 and February 17, gunmen slaughtered 23 people at Lusignan and Bartica. Police have since only charged one man with the Lusignan killings. The authorities said that a gang, led by the country’s most wanted man, Rondell ‘Fineman’ Rawlins, was behind the killings. But security officials believe there is a link between the Bartica killing and drug operatives.

Security experts blamed the criminal uprising on the lack of a national security strategy, but the Jagdeo administration insisted that it had a strategy in the UK-funded security sector action plan.

Foreign experts:

Morgan said there was a feeling among many that foreign experts could come and solve the country’s security troubles overnight; a position he disagreed with. He said one need not look too far to see that this was not the case, pointing to Jamaica, which for the past several years had had British experts working in senior positions in the police service. He noted that Jamaica’s crime situation was no better than it was before. “It takes time and will, so we can have a good strategy but if we do not clean up the corruption and drug-running that are fuelling the crime problem then we are not going anywhere,” Morgan said.

Asked what needed to be done urgently, Morgan said that in addition to rooting out corruption from the top to the bottom, the authorities needed to look at the root causes of the violence the country had been experiencing over the years. Several political parties and civic groups had in the past called on the administration to look into the root causes of the crime problem. When the violence broke out along the East Coast in 2002 following the Mash Day prison break there had also been calls for an inquiry into those activities.

On whether the security forces were capable of defeating the criminals, Morgan said he had no doubt that if properly managed the lawmen could be effective. However, he said that in the current situation where both the army and the police forces were under strength it would be difficult for them to deal with any form of widespread criminality. The security forces had been found wanting in a series of high-profile criminal operations dating back to the assault at Agricola which claimed the lives of eight people. In that incident as well as the two recent killing sprees, the security forces’ response was slow, although during the last two they were said to have been on high alert.

When implemented, the UK-funded plan would build the operational capacity of the police force in terms of a uniformed response to serious crime, as well as augment forensics, crime intelligence and traffic policing capabilities. It would also strengthen policymaking across the security sector to make it more transparent, effective and better coordinated.

Day 21 of Hinckson’s detention …
"Justice Singh recuses himself from Hinckson case -lawyers have two days to respond to AG"
March 26, 2008 (

Justice Jainarayan Singh Jr. yesterday recused himself from the Oliver Hinckson case, sending it back to Chief Justice Ian Chang, after giving Hinckson’s lawyers two days to respond to the Attorney General’s (AG) affidavit in answer to the initial motion.

When the case was called in the High Court around 10 am yesterday, attorney-at-law Nigel Hughes, who is representing Hinckson along with a battery of other lawyers, requested two days to respond to the AG’s affidavit. Justice Singh responded to this by telling Hughes that he wanted to be recused from the case since he had been affiliated with Hinckson in the past. As an attorney in the 1980s, Justice Singh said, he had represented Hinckson in other matters.

Justice Singh said he could not in good conscience deal with the matter when he has had conversations with the accused in the past.

Hinckson was arrested along with Dorian Massay on March 5 in an early morning operation, almost one month after he made statements alleged by the state to be seditious.

A green pick-up had pulled up at Hinckson’s Meadowbrook home shortly after 8 am and both men had reportedly gone willingly with two plainclothes officers. Hinckson was subsequently charged indictably on March 11 with advocating the commission of a terrorist act and uttering seditious statements and was not required to plead to either charge.

The charges stemmed from statements Hinckson made at a press conference hosted by Mayor Hamilton Green at City Hall on February 1. Hinckson had suggested that the Lusignan slaughter was more than a criminal problem and that all the evidence pointed in such a direction. He had recommended some form of discourse between government and the disenchanted.

Hinckson had first appear-ed before Principal Magis-trate Melissa Robertson-Ogle and then Magistrate Gordon Gilhuys. Applications for bail were refused on both occasions. Hinckson’s lawyers subsequently filed a motion in the High Court.

The motion seeks a declaration that Hinckson’s statements were not in contravention of any laws of Guyana and were consistent with his right to free speech in expressing concern over matters of national interest. It also seeks a declaration that the analysis in the said statements differ from the opinions of the government and that Hinckson was arrested because he is an African Guyanese, with a different political opinion, conscience, belief and culture to that of the present government.

The motion also wants the court to find that Hinckson’s arrest for his utterances was “unconstitutional and a breach of the fundamental protected right of freedom of movement as guaranteed by the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana.”

The motion also seeks damages in excess of $10 million for breach of the plaintiff’s right to free speech and expression of his thoughts. It also addresses costs, interest and any other order the court may see as justifiable.

Hinckson’s case continues in the Magistrate’s Court tomorrow before Magistrate Gilhuys.

Day 23 of Hinckson’s detention …
"Jagdeo sent no emissary to Hinckson"
March 28, 2008
-Office of the President
MP Anil Nandlall says meeting was private
The Oliver Hinckson controversy took a stunning turn yesterday when the ex-army officer said that he had received an emissary from President Bharrat Jagdeo on his offer to mediate with the gunmen, a claim that the Office of the President swiftly denounced as a “blatant lie”.

Hinckson, in a statement released to the media yesterday, said he was met by a high-ranking Member of Parliament, sent by President Jagdeo, prior to the sedition charge against him, for the purpose of engaging him specifically on his mediation offer.

However, the Office of the President (OP) in a response, vehemently denied the claim, calling it “a total fabrication and a blatant lie clearly intended to mislead the public and create confusion about the president’s rejection of talks with criminals.”

It has since emerged that Hinckson met PPP/C MP and attorney-at-law Anil Nandlall, though Nandlall insisted yesterday that it was in his private legal capacity that he met the ex-army officer.

A statement bearing yesterday’s date and Hinckson signature said that after Mayor Hamilton Green’s press conference of February 1 which he had attended and where he made the speech that is now the basis for the charges against him, the President sent a “trusted” emissary to Hinckson and the two met at a prominent social club for two and a half hours. The statement did not name the emissary. It said the meeting was for the purpose of engaging Hinckson specifically on the offer of mediation, which he proposed at the City Hall press conference.

“The emissary, who is a member of the central executive of the ruling party, held extensive discussions on issues which arose out of the offer of mediation by Oliver Hinckson,” the statement said.

It further stated that at the conclusion of the meeting the President’s representative assured Hinckson that he would contact him shortly on the matter that had been discussed. The statement concluded, “The subsequent preferment of charges against Oliver Hinckson is an act of gross political vindictiveness.”
A press release from OP yesterday said it had noted the statement with the signature, which appeared to be Hinckson’s. Dismissing it as a blatant lie and a total fabrication, OP said: “At no point in time has the President dispatched any emissary and/or made arrangement for any engagement whatsoever with the sedition accused, Mr Oliver Hinckson.”

The OP release contended that the Hinckson statement was clearly intended to mislead the public and create confusion about the President’s rejection of talks with criminals.

‘Certain discussions’

This newspaper later learnt that the emissary to whom Hinckson referred was Nandlall. Stabroek News was privy to the recording of a comment, which Nandlall gave to the Government Information Agency (GINA) outside the National Assembly yesterday, in which he admitted meeting Hinckson, but never on behalf of anyone.

Nandlall said he had not seen the statement, but had learnt that Hinckson had sought to represent that he met him on behalf of the President, the PPP or perhaps the government. He denied this.

“I wish to say categorically that I have never met with Mr Hinckson for or on behalf of the President, for or on behalf of the PPP, or for on behalf of the Government of Guyana,” he said. He added that he had no authority to do so.

Asked whether he had met Hinckson in any other capacity, Nandlall said he met him in his capacity as a private attorney-at-law in practice. He said he and Hinckson had certain discussions, which the ethics of his profession prevented him from disclosing. Asked whether he was consulted by Hinckson for legal representation, Nandlall said no, adding that he was neither consulted nor retained on any of the matters before the court against Hinckson. He said he would not represent Hinckson, even if he intended to retain him.

Later yesterday, a reliable source informed this newspaper that Nandlall had advised Hinckson that he was meeting him on behalf of the President. Contacted and quizzed further about this, Nandlall held fast to his denial. “No, no, not at all,” he told Stabroek News.

Nandlall told this newspaper that Hinckson had asked to meet him, and not the other way around. Asked whether he was hoping Hinckson would be his client, he said he agreed to attend the meeting because the man had requested it and he wanted to know what Hinckson wanted to meet him about. “I thought it was in my capacity as a lawyer,” he said.

Since the meeting took place prior to charges being brought against Hinckson, this newspaper asked Nandlall what he felt Hinckson would have been securing his service for. But the lawyer said he simply wanted to know what Hinckson wanted to meet him about.
Nandlall said that as the meeting progressed, he realized that discussions were heading in a different and “unexpected” direction and he immediately advised Hinckson that he was not authorised to participate in such discussions.

Stabroek News has since learnt that Nandlall might not have met Hinckson alone and was likely accompanied by another lawyer.

The statement

On February 1, less than a week after the January 26, brutal slaying of 11 men, women and children at Lusignan, East Coast Demerara, Hinckson attended a press conference hosted by Mayor Green. Addressing those present, he suggested that the killings were more than a criminal problem as all the evidence pointed to that. He then recommended that there should be some form of discourse between the government and the disenchanted.

“There must be some discourse between the so-called insurgents, those with a grievance and those who have the capacity to assist in that negotiation,” he had said.

Hinckson further said that he and other ex-servicemen were prepared, “fully knowing that we do not have a tacit hand or an actual hand in any kind of mischief, but we are prepared to risk our lives, venture into Buxton and assist in some kind of negotiation between the government and the disenchanted.”

It is not clear whether Hinckson’s appearance at the mayor’s press meeting was prearranged, but Green has since said that the former army officer had gone there to address a matter with the council, which explained his presence there.

Hinckson has since been charged with advocating the commission of a terrorist act and uttering seditious statements. (See other story on page 15)

Hinckson was not the only person in support of some from of discourse. Social activists Tacuma Ogunseye and Eusi Kwayana have suggested this sort of action in the past, and Kwayana recently made public his views on the issue stating that Hinckson’s offer was important. President Jagdeo has been adamant that this was not the way to go.

In a letter to this newspaper published on March 13, Kwayana pointed to similar sentiments aired by Jesuit, Father Malcolm Rodrigues, proposing negotiations with civilian gunmen.

Rodrigues, in an interview with this newspaper, had suggested that the government and joint opposition talk directly with the criminal/terrorist group roaming the backlands of Buxton or those connected with the group to find out exactly what their problem was, so as to lessen violence and its repercussions. He said if that failed the administration would have a major situation to deal with, possibly, in the long run.

President Jagdeo has consistently resisted such a proposal. Speaking at the annual tribute ceremony held on March 2 at Babu John, Port Mourant in memory of the late president and founder of the People’s Progressive Party, Dr Cheddi Jagan, Jagdeo addressed the issue of the killings at Lusignan and subsequent slaughter of 12 men at Bartica, less than a month later. He had said that the only way the recent spate of killings would come to an end was if the perpetrators were apprehended or killed and support was integral to the process.

On the matter of negotiation with criminals, Jagdeo said, “any person who could watch an innocent child sleeping and kill [him or her], won’t listen to reason.”

Meanwhile, two days after the Bartica massacre, Jagdeo had visited the area after cutting short a visit to New York. He said the two killings were committed by the same group and the only way to “end this” would be to pursue the killers and find them “since you can’t reason with people who commit these types of crimes”.

Day 23 of Hinckson’s detention …
"Hinckson sedition trial delayed; case file not returned from DPP"
March 28, 2008 (

After his third appearance in the Magistrate’s Court yesterday on a charge of sedition, Oliver Hinckson was further remanded with Magistrate Gordon Gilhuys saying that bail will be considered on the next occasion if the prosecution is not prepared to proceed with the trial.

At the last hearing, Magistrate Gilhuys had said that yesterday would have been the beginning of the trial. However, Police Prosecutor Robert Tyndall was not prepared. The court was told that the case file was at the Chambers of the Director of Public Prosecutions, where it had been sent for advice since the last hearing.

When the case was called around 10.45 am, Tyndall said he was holding firm to his objection to bail. Magistrate Gilhuys said he was not venturing into the subject of bail since to his understanding a bail hearing was proceeding in the High Court.

Attorney-at-law Nigel Hughes told the magistrate that even though there was a pending bail application in the High Court, the consideration of bail was not removed from his discretion in the Magistrate’s Court.
He said that the prosecution had not advanced a single reason why bail should be further refused.

He told the magistrate that it was clear that there was no regard for the court by the prosecution or by the Office of the DPP. Hughes said the case was one of national interest; it has been in the media almost every day, had elicited public views from many prominent organisations and yet no representative of the DPP or the DPP herself had “the courtesy” to show up in court with a plausible excuse for the delay in producing the file.

He added that given the fact that the state proclaimed the matter as “grave and serious”, the prosecutor should have made it his duty to present the file for the given court date.

Magistrate Gilhuys said he could not understand the lax way in which the prosecution was acting, saying that something was definitely wrong. He added that his position on the matter of bail still held. He also said that there could not be a bail hearing in the Magistrate’s and High courts at the same time.

But Hughes said an original application for bail was filed in the High Court and not an appeal on the refusal of bail from the Magistrate’s Court and therefore Magistrate Gilhuys was not precluded from considering bail.

At this point, the magistrate said he would set the matter for next Thursday (April 3). However, following further arguments put forward by Hughes he changed the date to Monday, March 31.

At this point, Hinckson’s other lawyer Vic Puran stood to address the court. Puran told the magistrate that Hinckson should be granted bail since the prosecution was not in a position to request refusal. Puran urged the magistrate to look at what was before him: no state counsel, no file and no witnesses in the matter. He questioned the refusal of bail when, according to him, there was no application for a refusal.

Hughes pointed out further that the “Guyana Police Force is demonstrating their alienation from the truth” with this case and that “citizens cannot come here [to court] to be scoffed at by the prosecution.”

Meanwhile, in relation to the High Court case, Stabroek News has learnt that Chief Justice Ian Chang will be hearing the matter.

This newspaper was also informed that Hinckson, who is at present a student at the University of Guyana, had written to the institution requesting permission to write examinations he had missed owing to his incarceration. The prison had agreed to facilitate this, but the arrangement was later cancelled.

Hinckson was charged on March 11 with advocating the commission of a terrorist act and uttering seditious statements. The charges stemmed from statements Hinckson made at a press conference hosted by Mayor Hamilton Green at City Hall on February 1.

URL to article:

Day 24 of Hinckson’s detention …
"Magistrate concerned over absence of police witnesses"
March 29, 2008 (

Magistrate Gordon Gilhuys on Thursday voiced his concern over police witnesses in the ammunition and firearm cases against ex-soldiers James Gibson and Oliver Hinckson not coming to court and he later issued a stern warning to the prosecution to have them in court on Monday.

The team of lawyers representing the duo voiced their frustration over the numerous delays in the case over the two years it has been before the court and called on the magistrate to exercise his authority where the police witnesses are concerned and in one instance even asked for a dismissal.

Gibson who had been absent on the last three occasions was still not present in court on Thursday. The arrest warrant which was issued by Gilhuys in January is still in effect. The two are jointly charged with having a .38 pistol, 12 .38 rounds and 26 12-gauge shotgun cartridges on June 6, 2006 at Lot 115 Aubrey Barker Street, South Ruimveldt.
The case was called around 11 am, moments after the magistrate had dealt with the charges of advocating the commission of a terrorist act and uttering seditious statements against Hinckson. Minutes after the matter was called the court orderly was heard calling the names of several policemen but none of them came forward.
The magistrate then asked police prosecutor Robert Tyndall if he didn’t realize the non-appearance of his witnesses was looking bad. “Is something wrong? Why are these policemen not coming to court?” the magistrate asked Tyndall who in a low voice said that the witnesses had been warned.
The magistrate asked him if he wanted to go into the witness box and swear to that so that he could issue a warrant for them.“This thing really getting out of hand. These policemen are not coming and I don’t know why,” Gilhuys said while shaking his head.
Attorney-at-law Leslie Sobers who is one of the lawyers representing the duo had earlier in the proceedings reminded the court that a witness had already given his evidence and had been cross-examined. Mark Waldron, another defence counsel, later said that the prosecution had been given two years but the case had gone no where.
Following the non-appearances of the witnesses, Gilhuys asked the prosecutor where they were and he began stammering. He however said that there was an issue where Hinckson was not in the country and now Gibson is absent.The magistrate informed him that Gibson’s absence should not be an issue because the warrant could be recalled at any time and the case could proceed ex-parte.
Attorney Nigel Hughes in adding his voice to the arguments said that in an affidavit to a constitutional motion, Crime Chief Seelall Persaud stated that Hinckson absented himself from the matter without leave and in so doing delayed the matter. According to the lawyer Persaud also said the witnesses were not turning up.
As he was reading from the affidavit, the magistrate interrupted saying that the court had granted Hinckson leave in the matter.Speaking about the absence of the witnesses, Hughes told the magistrate that he can envision the sanctions that they deserve and then he asked the magistrate to dismiss the matter since he too had expressed astonishment over the situation.At this point the prosecutor stood up and said that one of the witnesses had testified and exhibits were tendered in August 2006.

The magistrate asked him if taking evidence since 2006 was something to be proud about.Monday was then set as the peremptory date for the police witnesses to appear in court. The two had made their first appearance in court on June 12, 2006 and were subsequently released on $75,000 bail each. They denied the allegations that were made against them.
Two months before they were apprehended, the army had issued wanted bulletins for them, following the disappearance of 30 AK-47 rifles and five pistols from GDF headquarters. They were then out of sight until police acting on a tip-off swooped on a South Ruimveldt house around 2 pm on June 6. During the search of the premises, the illegal items were reportedly found. The two men were taken to army headquarters before being handed over to police.
The trial began two months later with the testimony of Criminal Investigation Department (CID) rank Cleveland Browne. (Zoisa Fraser)
Day 27 of Hinckson’s detention …
"Hinckson trial to await High Court ruling … accused further remanded"
April 1, 2008 (

Oliver Hinckson remained imprisoned after his fourth appearance in the Georgetown Magistrate’s Court yesterday, when the case was adjourned to await a High Court ruling. He is back in the High Court today before Chief Justice Ian Chang.After heated arguments by Hinckson’s lawyers and the prosecutor, Magistrate Gordon Gilhuys further remanded the ex-army officer until April 11. Hinckson has been charged indictably with advocating the commission of a terrorist act and uttering seditious statements.

The magistrate had said on the previous occasion that bail would have been considered for Hinckson if the prosecution were not prepared to move forward with the matter, but if the prosecution were ready, the trial would begin; neither was the case yesterday.

The courtroom was packed with people keenly interested in the proceedings, and there was hardly any space for the press.Police Prosecutor Robert Tyndall told the court that he was instructed that the accused had made applications in the High Court as regards the charges against him and as such, the proceedings in the Magistrate’s Court should await the ruling of the higher court.

Attorney-at-law Nigel Hughes, appearing for Hinckson, asked the prosecutor to “excuse my ignorance” and extrapolate on the laws from which those conclusions were drawn.

Magistrate Gilhuys then intervened and said that moving ahead with the trial before the High Court ruled could be an exercise in futility especially if the court ruled that the charges against Hinckson were an infringement on his right to free speech as purported by the motion filed by Hinckson’s lawyer on his behalf. He said it would be better for the magistrate court to await the judgment of the learned judge before proceeding.

Hughes rebutted that the criminal charges against Hinckson were not moved to the High Court and as such, the Magistrate’s Court was the only court with the jurisdiction to hear the case. Hughes wanted to know what evidence the prosecution had to back its charges.

He said Hinckson was entitled to bail because the prosecution had indicated that it was incapable of moving forward with the trial and had to date, after numerous hearings, not presented any strong or lawful arguments as to why Hinckson should be refused bail. In addition, he said, Hinckson is a student of the University of Guyana and if he could not be granted his constitutional rights then he should be granted his liberty to pursue his rights to educate himself. Hughes said that the fact that the court was refusing bail with no solid arguments from the prosecution was “perverse,” and challenged the prosecution to say otherwise.

Tyndall told the court that he would rely on his previous submissions for the objections to bail.

Hughes then further said that the court was failing in its duty to protect Hinckson.Hinckson’s other attorney Mark Waldron had pointed out earlier that the prosecution was showing no respect for the jurisdiction of the court.

He said that the magistrate had made one declaration at the last hearing; that bail would be considered for the accused if the prosecution were not prepared to move forward with the trial. Waldron reminded the magistrate that he should be impartial and unbiased.

The Hinckson case has been in the media spotlight since the charges were instituted against him on March 11. The charges came after statements he made at a press conference hosted by Mayor Hamilton Green at the City Hall. In the statement he had suggested discourse between the so-called insurgents, those with a grievance and those who have the capacity to assist in that negotiation, He had further said he and other ex-officers were prepared to venture into Buxton to assist in some kind of negotiation between the government and the disenchanted.

After he was refused bail in the Magistrate’s Court, Hinckson’s lawyers had moved to the High court, filing a motion and requesting a bail hearing. Justice Jainarayan Singh Jr, after granting the Attorney General seven days to reply to the motion filed by Hinckson’s lawyers, recused himself from matter saying that he could not in good conscience continue in the case since he has had conversations with Hinckson in the past.

The matter was sent back to the Chief Justice who will be hearing the matter today. Hinckson’s attorneys have expressed surprise and dismay that no magistrate or judge to date has shown interest in hearing the matter.

No comments:

Post a Comment