Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo on Wednesday declared that political activist and former treason accused, Mark Benschop should be thanking him and the PPP and going to church everyday and pray for the PPP because he was pardoned.
It was under Jagdeo’s Presidency that Benschop was charged for sedition and treason.
He was charged for treason after a protest outside the Office of the President that he was part of, became violent as the protesters stormed the compound. Two of the protesters were shot dead. Benschop served over five years behind bars on a treason charge before being pardoned by Jagdeo. He was never convicted.
At his press conference yesterday, Mr. Jagdeo sought to defend his party’s opposition to a sedition clause in the Cyber Crime Bill.
The PPP has come in for some criticism for its criticism since three persons, including Benschop, were charged for sedition while it was in office.
In a recent letter to the press on the issue, Benschop said while he is against sedition being part of the Cyber Crime Bill, the PPP has no moral authority to pronounce on the issue.
In relation to that criticism, Mr. Jagdeo declared that “he should be thanking the PPP, every morning going to church, saying a prayer for the PPP- the Benschop- rather than comparing that with this government trying to criminalise free speech and calling it free speech”.
In response, Mr. Benschop told News Source that he is surprised that Jagdeo is even talking about church and God. He said Jagdeo is still fighting for relevance.
“The funny this is that Jagdeo is fighting for his political life and he is irrelevant. I am a bit disappointed that he is not behind bars eating pantop and going on his knees and praying to his God, asking for forgiveness for all of the atrocities committed under his government. All of the wrongs that he had done when he was President of Guyana”, Benschop said.
The social activist said Guyanese still remember the many incidents that occurred under the Jagdeo presidency including the shooting of protesters and the murder of over four hundred persons during the crime spree. He said if there is anyone who should be praying for forgiveness, it would have to be Jagdeo.
Benschop has called on the government to review and remove the sedition clause from the Cyber Crime Bill, but he maintains that the PPP should not be commenting on the issue.
The Government has announced that it will be reviewing the bill.
Persons are resisting Section 18 (1) (a) of the Bill, which indicates that a person commits the offense of sedition if he brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the Government established by law in Guyana.
According to Section 18 (1), a person can commit the offence whether in or out of Guyana by intentionally publishing, transmitting or circulating by use of a computer system or any other means, a statement or words, either spoken or written, a text, video, image, sign, visible representation, or other thing.
The penalty ranges from four months in prison to a life sentence where death occurs.