has one of the most progressive Constitutions
- Government will work to guard democracy of citizens - July 21, 2003
President Bharrat Jagdeo addresses the gathering at the Ballot Box Martyrs Rally at No. 63 V illage, East Berbice Region 6. Sunday, July 20, 2003.
Courtesy: Office of the President Photo by Adrian Ally
we have one of the most progressive Constitutions in the world, the most progressive
in the British Commonwealth, not just in terms of enshrining people’s
rights but in terms of creating the mechanism to give effect to those rights.
No country in the British Commonwealth has a Human Rights Commission, a Procurement
Commission, an Ethnic Relations Commission, a Rights of the Child Commission,
a Gender and Equality Commission that is a women’s rights commission
and one on Indigenous People Commission.” These were the words of Guyana’s
Head of State President Bharrat Jagdeo to Berbicians during a public meeting
at No. 63 Village Region Six (East Berbice/Corentyne). The President said
these independent democratic bodies were put in place to ensure that the voices
of the people are heard and taken into consideration when Government is making
He noted that in the past these were not in place and hence there were not many means through which citizens could have expressed themselves. He noted that there are forces in Guyana working to destroy the democracy that citizens now enjoy, but his Administration remains committed to persevere along the lines that the ruling party has always done under the leadership of founding father and late President Dr. Cheddi Jagan – defending democracy for social peace and justice.
On this note President Jagdeo urged citizens to dissuade efforts to divide Guyanese based on racial, class and religious lines, as the country’s strength lies in its diversity. He urged parents present at the public meeting to ensure that their children are brought up in such a way that they will cherish democracy and learn to respect each other based on the struggles of their foreparents.
The public meeting was held at the spot at No. 63 Village where two youths were shot and killed 30 years ago, while trying to stop armed agents from removing the ballot boxes from the voting centre at New Market Primary School on July 16, 1973. The public meeting was attended by hundreds of people from various parts of Guyana, including Essequibo and Linden.
Jagan Ramessar and Parmanad Bholanauth were gunned down, while others were injured while trying to prevent the rigging of the ballots. The People’s Progressive Party has since erected a monument in honour of their sacrifice.
The incident was described by all as a sacrifice for the restoration of democracy. The President noted while the country has many landmarks, “this one reminds us of an endurous phase of the country.”
Commenting on the observation of the 30th death anniversary, President Jagdeo said it is not a move to raise old political grievances or to be stuck in the past, but to ensure that such events do not recur.
However, he noted that such events must never be replicated in Guyana and his Administration work toward fostering social and political peace. To further illustrate this point, President Jagdeo said, he has signed the Joint Communiqué with the Opposition Leader Robert Corbin so as to facilitate an arrangement of working together for the good of Guyana.
“We believe that all the people of this country must be involved in nation building including the Opposition…we all need to work together to move our country forward. And I do hope that the recent communiqué that we signed would give the framework for greater parliamentary, political and economic cooperation. We intend to respect the letter and spirit of that Communiqué,” he said.
The Head of State strongly urged persons to desist from undermining the spirit of the Communiqué, as this document holds agreements that have great potential for Guyana’s future. He noted that the Administration is trying to change the political culture in Guyana by turning to mature politics and away from confrontational politics. Commenting on the spewing of division among Guyanese, President Jagdeo called on the Opposition to unequivocally condemn the fallacies promoted by many of the talk show hosts on the televised spectrum. The Communiqué signed on May 2 by the two Leaders, is seen as a strategic plan by Government to move he country forward through national support.