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Ethnic Relations Commission
66 Peter Rose & Anira Streets, Queenstown, Georgetown, Guyana
Tel. +592-231-6479, 231-6473,
231-6281, 231-6265
Fax: +592-231-6246

April 26, 2011

PRESS STATEMENT

Decision of the Ethnic Relations Commission with respect to a news article taken from the demerarwaves.com website titled ‘AFC tells East Indians to stop fearing African Guyanese’ and based on a complaint made by the Indian Arrival Committee (IAC) against the Alliance for Change (AFC) in this regard. 

The Ethnic Relations Commission acting under Article 212 D of the Constitution of Guyana, considering all the information at its disposal, regarding the said matter and having deliberated on the matter on the 11th April, 2011 at a specially convened meeting hereby adopts the following conclusions on the matter.

Background

The demerarwaves.com is a local website which reports on current events in Guyana, posting same on its website. One of these reports was of a political rally held by the Alliance for Change (AFC) in Berbice, which was headlined: AFC tells East Indians to stop fearing African Guyanese. The Indian Arrival Committee (IAC) in a complaint to the ERC, has stated that the Presidential candidate of the Alliance For Change (AFC), Mr. Khemraj Ramjattan made this statement and that the statement is one capable of racial incitement.

Decision

  1. The issue herein is whether the alleged statement made by the Presidential Candidate Kremraj Ramjattan, that is: Guyanese East Indians are urged to stop fearing African Guyanese at a public meeting, is in contravention of the Representation of the People (Amendment) Act No 1 of 2001; or the Racial Hostility Act, Cap 23:01.
  1. The ERC requested that the IAC provides the Commission with a copy of the transcript of the speech made by the AFC’s Presidential Candidate, however this was not forthcoming. Further the Commission inquired, but was made aware that there is no recording of this meeting.
  1. The Commission on its own accord took steps to investigate the said complaint, but in the absence of a record/transcript of the actual event has had to rely solely on the report carried by demerarawaves.com which report was the subject of the complaint by the IAC.
  1. The Commission having reviewed and deliberated on this reported alleged statement was unable to verify the accuracy of same since in reviewing the report there is no verbatim statement that could be attributed to the Presidential candidate of the AFC.
  1. The Commission however found that the statement if correct, could not be reviewed in isolation of the report as reported by demerarawaves.com. The report in itself does not state or seek to ascribe this particular statement to the AFC’s leader, in fact the report only headlines this statement. The contents of the report however notes that the Alliance for Change (AFC) ‘want[s] you to aspire to embrace racial harmony’ and to ‘unlearn racial politics and [to] go home and urge younger and older family members to do likewise.’
  1. The Commission finds that the AFC’s candidate, if reported correctly, had set out on a theme of embracing racial harmony and the Commission in considering the statement, has found that it was not intended to excite hostility or ill-will against any section of the public; nor can it result in racial or ethnic violence or hatred in the context and meaning of the legislation.

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