A number of non-governmental organisations in Guyana and the US along with some Opposition Members of Parliament have signed onto a letter which has been sent to US Vice President Kamala Harris, documenting what they call the “untenable crisis of racism and discrimination in Guyana”.
The letter and a statement signed by retired military officer Lelon Saul who serves as the Secretary of the Institute for Action against Racism, were dispatched to the Vice President this week.
Saul, who who worked with the UN local office before taking up a job as the Housing CEO under the previous government, was fired without reason when the government changed in 2020.
In the letter and report, he stated that “the most fundamental of rights- freedom of expression and association- are blatantly assailed on a daily basis by the government”, while accusing the Guyana Government of practicing “economic genocide”.
The report sent to the US Vice President stated that those in Guyana who are unwilling to ‘toe the line’ in adherence of the government’s “autocratic governance are ostracized, marginalized and victimized”.
The report also stated that some private businesses have been persecuted for advertising with media houses that the Government considers unsupportive.
The report detailed that organisations that rely on Government funding through state grants and subventions have found themselves being punished and defunded for taking a position that may be against an official government position.
The report said freedom of speech and the basic rights of Guyanese are under severe threat by the government.
“Most reprehensibly, the PPP government abuses the powers of Guyana Police Force (GPF) as well as the Criminal Justice System, which they use as their enforcement agencies for political vendetta, victimization and revenge. They also abuse the Courts to obtain the most repugnant forms political and personal recrimination. The concomitant result is pervasive intimidation and coercion of the massed, struggling for economic survival, to either be forced into silence or comply with their abominable policies and acquiesce to receiving inconsequential handouts,” the report stated.
The groups have also dispatched the statement and letter to several members of the US Congress, CARICOM Leaders and Western Diplomats, the Commonwealth, the Organization of American States, the African Union and all African Heads of Government.
The groups and the Opposition MPs want urgent intervention from the international community.
In response to the concerns raised in the letter to the US Vice President, Prime Minister, Mark Phillips in a letter to the editor which was released this evening said it is the Opposition and not his Government that seems to be stoking a civil unrest in Guyana.
According to the Prime Minister, “leaders in the APNU+AFC continue to push for civil unrest through attacks on the media, physically blockading Government officials from engaging with whole communities, unruly behavior in the National Assembly, and adopting a confrontational approach to the President when there should be discussions on key national issues”.
The Prime Minister dismissed the concerns raised to the US Vice President and the international community, while noting that there has been “tremendous progress” in the country since the PPP took office in 2020.
The PPP has found itself being accused of marginalization and discrimination since taking office, and has been encouraged by US government officials to be more inclusive.