by Stella Ramsaroop
(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 10 August 2006)
The Kaieteur News printing staff was in a secured area out of the way. They were not in a main thoroughfare where trigger-happy gunmen might just stumble upon them by accident. There was nothing visibly taken. So this was not a robbery. This was meant to send a message.
Our co-workers were shot execution style to scare us. The lives of so many young people snuffed out to send a message to the rest of us. Those killers do not like that this newspaper refuses to bend to their whims. Those cold-blooded murderers do not like that this newspaper cannot be bought or intimidated. They want us to crawl into a hole and hide now. We will do no such thing.
The Publisher of Kaieteur News, Glenn Lall, tells me that we cannot let this break us as he sobs in tears. "We are fighters," he says. And he is right, of course. We are fighters and to lay our pens down now would mean those murderers have won. If we hide now, it would be a disgrace to the precious memory of our printing staff.
The senseless murder of our co-workers is heart wrenching. There will not be one dry eye in the newsroom today. They executed our printing staff. It is natural for us to want and to expect justice. The fact that we all know better than to expect justice makes this ordeal even more traumatising than if we knew the police could find these killers and the courts would sentence them to death for their actions.
There is a profound sense of hopelessness in a situation such as this. It would be so easy to let this feeling sweep us away with the tide into an ocean of despondency. But that is exactly what the killers want, which is why we cannot comply. We will cry and we mourn, but we will not give up.
I have always despised bullies. When I was younger and the older boys would pick on my younger brother, I would fight them myself if I had to do so just to make sure my brother knew someone cared. One time I picked up a two-by-four piece of wood and started swinging. I was relieved that I never actually hit anyone because they all scattered, but those boys stopped bothering my brother after that.
The best way to honour our fallen comrades (this does feel like a war zone more and more each day) is to continue to fight for them – and for all of the other Guyanese who have been ruthlessly murdered at the hands of home grown terrorists. We must continue to tell their stories to the world so the international community can see the plight of the Guyanese.
Will the President lift a finger to help find these murderers? Will he at least make a public condemnation against such abhorrent violence on a newspaper in a free country? Will the Guyana Police Force provide us with something more than just empty words? And if they do, will the courts give us a speedy and fair trial with a judicious sentence?
The blood of our co-workers cries out from the floor of the Kaieteur News printery demanding justice. How many wake up calls can one nation get within a six-month period? How many more people must die before the people of Guyana realise they should demand law and order from their government?
In a small country like Guyana, it is only a matter of time before the criminals kill off all of the good and upstanding citizens. At this rate, it could easily be within the next decade. This is exactly why we cannot back down from these bullies.
I have my two-by-four (which is my pen) in hand and I am ready to swing. Only this time, I'd be more than happy to make sure I hit those bullies – as well as those who allow the bullies to run free. Guyana belongs to the people – not to the criminals.
We must demand justice with every breath that is within us. These murderers sent their message loud and clear with the precious lives of the Kaieteur News printing staff. But we simply cannot back down. We cannot run and hide. Most of all, we cannot give up.