It doesn’t help that Anil Nandlall the Attorney General of Guyana’s immediate past government is opposing the now infamous clause 18 of the Guyana Cybercrimes Bill…..
not after the he said/he said/ testimony he gave against former Army Officer Oliver Hinckson which caused him to be charged with sedition;
not after he, Nandlall, was an integral member of the Political Party whose government brought charges against journalist/activist Ronald Waddell who was charged with sedition subsequently assassinated and allegedly at the command of criminal KingPin Roger Khan a confessed inner associate of the PPP government;
not after Mark Benschop was imprisoned for 5 years on charges of treason then released with charges dropped when Nandlall was a rising star in his Party and certainly not after former army officers, Leonard Wharton, Bruce Munroe and the latter’s wife Carol Anne Munroe, were charged with treason when he, charges subsequently being dismissed when Nandlall was AG.
All that does is mark Nandlall present on the side of the Opposition – which implies it’s now his turn to offer moral proclamations and pontifications about lawfulness and its application after being part of a government that presided over Guyana’s bleakest era, when state violence was associated with the nation’s Minister of Home Affairs, and the repute of a roving death squad serving at the command of hierarchy.
It’s a cycle of hypocrisy that attends politics and a change of government with politicians trading masks and costumes to stake territory. Now Nandlall, the Attorney General once caught on tape threatening grievous bodily harm with a choice selection of profanity to a news organ that opined about him and his Party, is ‘Father Theresa’, moralizing the relevance of sedition with all the virtue and believability of a political crypt keeper awakening the dead to do his bidding. It’s a brazen stab at populism coming from this former Attorney General of the past demagoguery which brought new meaning to party paramountcy, forged racism into mainstream politics as a government that said anything, promised everything and ultimately did nothing.
So, that this Opposition – which used the laws of treason and sedition to to contain criticism and deter a challenge to its dictatorial governance – could now criticize the attempts by this Coalition Government to silence free speech and contain public opinion, unilaterally decide what brings hatred or contempt or excites disaffection, is more than just politicking.
It is the underscoring of actions by a government that ascended on a platform of democracy but now seems to prefer a more tailor-made form of the system, one that is perpetually complimentary, stands in passive acceptance and is quick to forego its inherent right to challenge what is adverse or reshape what is disadvantageous.
…testament to a gnawing reality that even with a blended government, one that marries race and disparate ideology, problems will not be solved by replacing one Party with another, especially when they operate on the original chassis. Changing law makers without reforming the law is merely passing the baton to a another team to give them their turn at law-interpretation to advance their agenda …..not that of the people or the nation….just their lil party circle…
It is insidious to have slipped the sedition clause into the 2016 version of the draft Cyber Crime Bill and have it submitted for debate. But that has become a matter of course for those elected to legislate on behalf of the people. They take advantage of the feeble Parliamentary Process which requires a majority vote to pass a bill and a partisan President to assent to it, to further it into law. That’s why the current Constitution has been Amended to virtual death in favor of Partisan ideology…having undergone a makeover of frightening proportions ….with Amendments favoring specific blocks of people which conversely disfavor others. But that’s another Opinion Editorial. To conflate them would be to reduce the totality of the adverse impact those Amendments have.
So back to the Sedition that this Government …. the APNU wing… with Trotman flipping and Ramjattan flopping, wants to impose.
Maybe the language is standard but a government that was elected in a comparatively free environment, that has lost some popularity because of its own missteps and reneges and now wants to slip a law into its Constitution that would give it the power to imprison or kill those they deem – and by subjective determination- unfavorable to them, is a demonstration of political irreverence that precedes political absolutism.
For all of its postcolonial decades, Guyanese have been the victims of a ‘dictatorship of the majority’…..a revolving –door operation of the two main parties taking turns at their rendition of government which promotes partisan ideology more than it does national good.
So now, with the omnipresence of China in Guyana and a government that continues to fawn over its suspicious largesse….are we seeing the Guyana’s version of ‘Democratic Dictatorship’….the rudder of China’s politics created by Mao… holding a permanent place in the first line of the China’s Constitution more for purpose than intent? Are we on the cusp of a China –style democracy that ostentatiously touts freedoms and of expression and press but practices none of these declared tenets, or enforces the Constitutional protection guaranteed those who challenge Party rule?
…you always talking ’bout China, they say…
And with good reason and due anxiety. China’s ‘mind control’ is on record in a number of resource rich financially strapped countries where they are known to meet with governments and opposition prior to elections in ‘talks’ to protect their ‘investment’ in the country and to secure a continuation of their proliferation… it is on record that Opposition Leader Granger did meet with them leading up to the 2015 elections in what has been described an uneven matchup that didn’t quite help Guyana…
To have run on a Manifesto Pledge Good Governance (page8): To defend and increase the civil liberties of our people and regulate Government’s intervention in political economic and social issues affecting the people….is a statement that was crafted to appeal to a people who were already downtrodden and oppressed by the other crafters of hollow phraseology…the other team of the electorate’s dictatorship of majority….
To think that this glaring breach of promise is potentially seditious because of one-size-fits- all language that would make anything other than praise or applause convict a dissenter, should scream for Constitution makeover with pointed change to current procedure that would take mere votes to strip foundational rights like free speech. There are some rights that must be enshrined in Constitution if Guyana is to remain a Democracy…freedom of speech, the right to dissent, the right to assemble all currently in the Constitution and should never be fungible tenets allowed to exist at the discretion of those who would be king.
And it may be pure coincidence that China enforces its sedition under the guise of national security but it does give one pause when Guyana’s proposed Sedition act reads: 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.
Maybe it’s because China has implemented a social media clamp down by substituting its own government designed Facebook, Youtube and Twitter platforms that run government propaganda -a small benefit of its dedication to clone and ‘redirect’ intellectual property- so that bandwidths allow only their versions of social media which all praise and glorify the dear leader, while arresting those who don’t.
We have returned to the era of paramountcy of politicians. Any opinion or action the government does not like could be Sedition under their sweeping definition Cyber Crimes. Sweeping definitions tend to be the precedent of sweeping convictions arising from distorted laws passed in the name national order and security. Democracies that have devolved into authoritarian regimes bear this out.
Then the harassing and the detention begins.
I am no lawyer but unless this Administration is declaring itself a Dictatorship common sense would suggest that Sedition should require some solid intention to cause a serious threat to government..well beyond actions that are triggered by supposition or interpretation of law that works like a dragnet.
Saying that the Coalition has failed to live up to its Manifesto, has failed to reach elementary achievements, has offended the people who voted it in to power, continues to practice the malfeasance of that which got the Opposition voted out of power, are all very palpable and provable things…not seditious at all, except to a government that expects only genuflections and hallelujah refrains.
This is not to say that it has not made some gains but only petulant, thin skinned, ornery, political operatives committed to self-service and not that which benefits the nation, would prefer to have its gains emblazoned in every visible space. Fact is, it was expected to succeed, so applauding its success would be redundant. Conversely, highlighting its shortcomings would keep it accountable and remind it of its pledged course.
That said, journalism is not sedition….criticizing government is not derailing its course. None of these things constitute, ‘excitement, incitement, disaffection’ or all of the other broad brush ascriptions to intimidate and suppress opinion.
Complaining and pointing out failures fall under freedom of expression and unless these opinions bear the DNA of slander and its cousin libel, they should not be actionable in a court of law and are incompatible with the standard definition of human rights.
The road to hell is paved with Sedition, said Shakespeare.
Let’s pray that these folks in Government have a phobia for hell.