Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dictator Logic


Not a year goes by without there being massive protest to accompany the G20 Summit of the world’s richest countries. As a matter of fact such protests are now seen as an integral activity preceding this Summit by international activist organisations. This year's G20 summit saw about 35,000 people assemble for protest action in London. Apart from literal protests many of these organisations send the G20 committees submissions, outlining their disagreement with certain policies or proposing new policies as a way forward for the citizens whose lives will be affected by the decisions made by the G20 leaders.

When one considers the above one really has to wonder if Patrick Manning is truly interested in making this country a developed country by 2020 and if he is, what exactly his definition is of developed country. Does his definition only include the construction of tall buildings, having an executive president and the ability to host summits (Political tea parties)? Or is it to enhance the standard of living for the citizens of this country through responsible leadership, diligent fiscal policies and the enhancement of and promotion of citizen’s democratic rights?

These questions must be asked because during the last Summit of Americas held in Port of Spain there was a dire breach of citizens rights through the setting up of a security zone around the Hyatt by the government. This was an outright illegal act as such powers falls under the Commissioner of Police and not Cabinet, a point Senator Dana Seetahal has repeatedly raised in the senate. What we had for the Summit of the Americas was a limited State of Emergency without the actual declaration of a State of Emergency. This action by government shows a worrying trend with regards its attitude for the rule of democracy and the rights of the citizens to whom they are accountable.

In addition to the above we saw the Government through its puppet James Philbert, trample on the citizens right to Freedom of Speech by refusing permission for Trade Unions and other interests groups from holding any type of march or protest in Port of Spain. Even at the Drummit for De Summit 2 in St. James which I attended, the police attempted to shut us down and came out in full riot gear for us despite the distance between us and the Hyatt. Freedom of speech in Trinidad and Tobago is under serious threat by this Patrick Manning led government. First of all it boggles the mind why with the existence of the Human Rights Charter as decreed by the United Nations, why we even have a law that states we must request permission from our Police Commissioner if we want to protest, are we living in a police state or are we living in a democracy? Someone needs to challenge the legitimacy of that law because it is in direct conflict to the following Human Rights declarations to which our country is a signatory:-

Human Rights 13, 18 – 21

13) Freedom of Movement

18) Freedom of thought

19) Freedom of Expression

20) Freedom to meet where you like

21) The right to democracy

With these rights in mind I couldn’t help but acquire a sour taste in my mouth when I saw on TV tonight, none other but our smiling dimpled face Prime Minister on the news saying that if anyone should protest during the upcoming Common Wealth Heads of Government Meeting they will not be embarrassing the government they will be embarrassing the country. That is nothing short of psychological political warfare, it is gutter snipe dictatorship logic. Citizens need to tell Patrick exactly where to get off with this empire like attitude thinking that citizens ought to hold some bizarre balisier ritual by walking over hot coals barefoot in honour of the father of the nation. Patrick’s claim that protesters will embarrass the country is akin to a relative telling a battered woman not to tell the police how her husband beating the living hell out of her because it will embarrass the ‘family’. Freedom of speech and freedom to assemble are not only our democratic rights they are also our human rights. It is indeed a travesty for a politician who was elected democratically to be so opposed to citizens exercising their democratic rights because what that does is illegitimise his very position as a ‘democratic’ leader. ©

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