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The Solution to Racial Politics in Guyana and Trinidad

It is believed that the PNC was instrumental in the Wismar massacre on May 26, 1964

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Trinidad and Tobago
Indentured Laborers taken from India. Wikimedia

– by Dr Kumar Mahabir

Tobago and Trinidad, August 10, 2017: A noted Anthropologist from Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. Kumar Mahabir has brought to attention the racial politics in Guyana and Trinidad. The article is an excerpt from a research paper presented by him recently at the First Diaspora Engagement Conference in Guyana organized by The University of Guyana.

There is legitimate suspicion, fear and insecurity among East Indians of the ruling APNU+AFC regime in Guyana. The President of Guyana, David Granger, was a former Commander of the African-dominated Guyana Defence Force under the PNC regime (1964 -1992), which is the major partner in the current APNU +AFC coalition government.

It is believed that the PNC was instrumental in the Wismar massacre on May 26, 1964.  USA non-Indian historian, Stephen Rabe (2005) of the University of Texas, reported that in the massacre, 200 persons [mainly Indians] died, 800 were injured, 200 houses were destroyed and 1,800 persons were left homeless.

Dr Kumar Mahabir

Non-Indian sociologist Stephen Spencer at Sheffield Hallam University (UK) stated: “While the police and special volunteers looked on passively, the African Guyanese engaged in an orgy of violence against the Indian community, involving rape, arson, beatings and murder” (p. 52).

Indians have no faith and trust in the African-dominated Government of Guyana led by a PNC former military commander. And indeed most Indians in and out of Guyana believe that the APNU+AFC came to power through a rigged election.

Their belief is not without factual and historical basis. The Latin American Bureau, a human rights organization, reported that the PNC “has been responsible for massively rigging every election that has occurred since the country gained independence.”

Indian Diaspora in Guyana has no Faith in African-dominated Government Click To Tweet

Indians would have no faith in the Diaspora Unit of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs unless it is staffed by 40% Indians appointed by the opposition PPP. Contesting the 2015 election as a single party, the PPP barely lost the fight against the united forces of the APNU+AFC alliance.

The result was a narrow victory for the APNU+AFC party with 207,201 votes (50.3% = 33 seats). The PPP followed very closely with 202,656 votes (49.2% = 32 seats) (GECOM, 2015). PPP lost the opportunity to become the government by a mere margin of 4,545 votes. The APNU+AFC collation government is in power by a mere one-seat majority.

General elections were held in racially-divided Trinidad and Tobago on September 7, 2015. The Afro-based People’s National Movement received 52% of the votes and won 23 of the 41 seats in the House of Representatives. The Indo-based People’s Partnership (PP) coalition led by Kamla Persad-Bissessar got 40% of the votes and won 18 seats. Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, his Cabinet Ministers and Ambassadors are mainly Afro-Trinidadians and the PP Opposition consists mainly of Indo-Trinidadians.

For the Guyana’s Government’s diaspora engagement programme to succeed, the ghost of the Wismar massacre has to be put to rest. This can only be done if the APNU+AFC government establishes a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) modelled after the restorative justice court in South Africa established after the abolition of apartheid. The APNU+AFC government also has to initiate action to take the surviving assailants of the Wismar Massacre to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in Holland.

Guyana’s State polices and programmers can work only if the APNU+AFC government shares power. In his book entitled, Ethno-Politics and Power Sharing in Guyana (2011), David Hinds wrote: “Ethnic groups living side by side have always been suspicious of one another. That suspicion turns to fear and insecurity when the issue of who controls power – decision-making (political) and resource allocation (economic) – invariably arises.”

Hinds added: “In other words, groups fear domination by the other and act out that fear through choices they make both at the community and national levels…. What compounds this fear is that both groups have had a taste of domination by the other” (p. 173).

Attempts by the APNU+AFC government to entice Indian figures to give the semblance of ethnic equality is an exercise in futility. The faces of Moses Nagamootoo, Khemraj Ramjattan, Rupert Roopnaraine, Amna Ally and Ronald Bulkan are used as ethnic window-dressing.

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In Guyana, David Hinds noted: “Such leaders bring little tangible benefits to the party as they are often ridiculed by their own group as traitors. They are often forced to either endorse ethnic attacks on their group or remain silent” (p. 176).

Hinds observed that parties accept the solution of power sharing when they are in opposition, but reject it when in power. Power sharing with the Opposition is the only solution for development in racially-divided Guyana and Trinidad.

The concept of consociational democracy was developed in 1968 by the political scientist Arend Lijphart from the Netherlands. The political system is intended to reconcile societal divisions along ethnic and religious lines. In consociational states, all groups, including political minorities, are equitably represented in the political and economic arena.

Dr Kumar Mahabir is an assistant professor of Anthropology in Trinidad and Tobago.

 

 

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Warning Signs of Radicalization : Understanding What Makes a Terrorist

The internet is an irrefutable aspect of modern life. But do you know what your child is doing online?

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What motivates children to join terrorist outfits and participate in extremist activities? Pixabay
  • Radicalization is the process by which young individuals are introduced to a blatantly ideological message that accompanies extreme views
  • Over 50 per cent of the radicalization operations carried out by terrorist organizations are conducted over the internet
  • Parents must observe any change in their child’s behavior to gauge potential radicalization

New Delhi, September 4, 2017 : Imagine looking at a video of adolescents in camouflage, wearing ISIS bandanas in a barren dessert, learning hand-to-hand combat. Imagine ISIS fighters wielding long daggers standing behind them, wearing black scarves that mask their faces.

Imagine watching these masked men address the government; they claim that the government is no longer fighting an insurgency but an entire army of young adolescent recruits- kids who should have stayed in school.

ISIS has made shocking progress in expanding its operations in recent times due to the upsurge in enthusiasm that would-be jihadist from all parts of the globe demonstrate to join their fight in Iraq and Syria.

However, one of the most frequently asked questions about terrorism traces the very root of the matter.

Why do children join terrorist outfits and participate in extremist activities?

The ISIS runs an elaborate operation that targets, manipulates and eventually recruits young people to believe and uphold their twisted ideologies- a process understood as radicalization.

 

What is radicalization?

According to a report published by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in 2009, radicalization is understood as the process by which young individuals are introduced to a blatantly ideological message that accompanies extreme views.

While radicalization is not always negative, it becomes problematic when it culminates into acts of violence, a phenomenon common to organizations like ISIS, IRA and Al Qaeda.

Over 50 per cent of their radicalization operations are conducted over the internet- a space flocked and dominated by young, impressionist minds.

 

Online risk of radicalization

According to John Horgan, a psychologist at UMass- Lowell who specializes in terrorism, terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda, and ISIS can be viewed as amateur psychologists, who are also adept marketers. They provide youngsters, usually very young people, with a ‘one time offer’ and encourage them to act fast.

These extremist organizations make use of internet and the social media to communicate and spread their messages, and recruit people to join their forces.

In an attempt to brainwash and lure young individuals to join forces, their messages usually present extremist vision as an exciting alternate to the ‘mainstream’.

ALSO READ Pakistani Militant Group Tehreek-i-Taliban (TTP) Now Targeting Women as New Jihad Recruits through their Magazine

Who are most vulnerable to radicalization?

Personal attributes or local factors can make an individual more susceptible to extremist influence. An absence of a positive, supportive force can additionally accelerate the process of radicalization.

  • Children struggling with independent identity

Some children can have a hard time accepting the culture they practice, which can make them question their place in the society. Young children tend to struggle establishing a sense of independent identity which often makes them vulnerable to extremist influence.

  • Personal circumstances

Instances in a child’s personal life such as fights within the family, or undergoing any trauma can increase their vulnerability to radicalization. Extremists prey on children with low-self esteem, who harbor feelings of injustice, such as those who believe they have been subjected to racial discrimination.

Additionally, kids who feel detested by their peers or abandoned by their family members are also at a greater risk of harboring feelings of vengeance that can motivate them to indulge in extremist behavior.

  • Emotional response

Kids who seek adventure and excitement tend to indulge in activities just for the adrenaline rush, without thinking about the consequences. Additionally, kids who yearn to dominate or control others and those who are comfortable with violence can also be an easy target for radicalization.

  • External factors

A child can also be influenced by what he experiences in the local community, country or when exposed to people who have joined any extremist group.

  • Criminal background

Individuals with a previous criminal background or those who find it difficult to integrate with the mainstream society after serving sentence in a jail, or a reprimand home may also be at a greater risk.

  • Exposure and indulgence with technology

Additionally, kids who spend increasing amount of time online, or have no supervision on their online interaction are at a greater risk.

Radicalization
FILE – Indonesian youths browse their social media accounts at an Internet cafe in Jakarta, Indonesia. VOA

Signs of Radicalization

There is no single route to radicalization- it can either occur quickly, or over a long period. Sometimes, there can be clear warning signs that can intimidate you when a child acts out of character. But, sometimes, these changes may not be very obvious,

  • Change in appearance and personal relationships

Young individuals may distance themselves from people, bring a significant change in their appearance and dressing style and refrain from activities that were previously a part of routine.

  • Change in political orientation

The children may exhibit sudden indulgence in a particular behavior or growing interest in politics especially relating to trouble areas. They may additionally become intolerant to those who do not share the same beliefs as them (other religions, races and ethnicity) and may begin to look down upon them.

ALSO READ How a young Astronomer from Turkey turned into an Islamic State Fighter

  • Change in online identity

A change in the online identity of the individual such as changing their username on various social media accounts or the profile picture. Alternately, the individual may make two parallel profiles- one being the ‘normal’ one and the other used for extremist purposes, more often than not with a pseudonym.

Spending long hours on the internet, being secretive and showing reluctance to divulge personal details and information about their whereabouts also comprise suspicious behavior.

  • Additional signs can also include a growing fondness, sympathy or justification for extremist ideologies, increasing interest in accessing more extremist material online, being in contact with extremist recruiters or jihadis, etc.

Exhibition of one of these signs does not necessarily mean that a child is being radicalized. They can also point out to other issues that a child might be facing, such as depression.

At the heart of it all is – COMMUNICATION.

Talking to children regularly and honestly is the best way to keep them safe. Making sure that the individual is safe online is also of equal importance.

An individual undergoes several changes during adolescence that can either make children react in different ways. As a parent, you should try and recognize these changes and trace their roots. Also, we would suggest addressing all issues, rather than simply ridiculing or ignoring them.

 


 

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Dr. Kumar Mahabir intends to Sue Trinidad and Tobago’s Ministry of Culture for Discrimination against Hindus

Mahabir says Trinidad's Culture Ministry promotes Christianity and discriminates against Hindus

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The Calendar launched by Ministry of Culture has no Indian oriented event.
  • The Ministry of Culture of Trinidad and Tobago has been taken to court for discriminating against the country’s Hindu and Muslim culture
  • The complaint comes after the Ministry omits 11 important Indo-Trinidadian cultural events from its 2016 cultural calendar
  • The complaint also alleges that not one Indian oriented event was included in the Ministry’s calendar

Trinidad and Tobago, August 06, 2017: The Ministry of Culture for Trinidad & Tobago has been blamed for discriminating against its Hindu and Muslim culture. A prominent Indian activist Dr Kumar Mahabir has threatened to slap a court case on the Ministry.

The complaint submitted to Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC) by the leagl team of Dr. Mahabir alleges that the Ministry did not include even a single event that is Indian oriented in its 2016 calendar. It says that the Ministry was clearly discriminating against Indian and Hindu organizations citing the names of Institute of Indian Knowledge, Tank Sound Company, The Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha, Trinidad & Tobago Yatra Committee Inc, Karma: The Band, Missy & R Promotions, The Hindu Prachaar Kendra, International Day of Yoga Committee, Caroni Hindu Mandir, Casanova Productions, and UWI’s Film Programme Department.

Also Read: Stop Blaming Indians for the Black Crisis in Trinidad and Tobago

In the Ministry’s 2016 calendar, these 11 important Indo-Trinidadian events were omitted. Furthermore, the calendar also missed the inclusion of several Indian Arrival Day celebrations that were held in the country after the national holiday. The Ministry of Development, Culture, and Arts has failed to include these major events which exposes the larger problem; the failure to incorporate the Indian culture in its society.

This exposure has raised many other questions. One very crucial implication is that the Ministry will not be funding these organizations. Dr. Mahabir raises the question, “Is there ethnic equity in the top hierarchy of the Ministry’s staff?

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On the other hand, the Ministry of Culture is a big promoter of Christian Church organized events. It is interesting to note that at 35%, Indo-Trinidadians comprise the largest ethnic group in the society.

Dr. Kumar Mahabir had highlighted the exclusion of these several Indian events in a letter that was published regional as well as the international newspaper called ‘World Hindu News’. Dr. Mahabir, an Indo-Trinidadian himself, filed a complaint of discrimination against the Ministry.

The complaint has been launched under the discrimination category with respect to “provision of goods and services”

With ample evidence, Dr. Mahabir also claimed that Hindu and Muslim communities have suffered less favorable treatment as compared to other communities, based simply on culture and religion.

In his complaint letter, Dr. Mahabir demanded an apology by the Ministry to the communities. Further, he also demanded an explanation for the omission. However, the Ministry did not reply, the result of which has been the initiation of a legal inquiry.

– by a Staff Writer of NewsGram

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Union Cabinet Approves Revision of Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF) Guidelines

The ICWF, set up in 2009, is aimed at assisting overseas Indian nationals in times of distress and emergency in the most deserving cases on a means tested basis

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PM Narendra Modi, Indian Community
PM Modi Wikimedia

New Delhi, July 19, 2017: The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Wednesday approved revision of the Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF) guidelines, to expand scope of welfare measures that can be extended through the fund to overseas Indian nationals in times of distress and emergency.

The ICWF, set up in 2009, is aimed at assisting overseas Indian nationals in times of distress and emergency in the most deserving cases on a means tested basis.

“The revised guidelines being made broad-based seek to expand the scope of welfare measures that can be extended through the fund. The guidelines would cover three key areas – namely Assisting Overseas Indian nationals in distress situations, community welfare activities and improvement in consular services,” said an official statement.

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“They are expected to provide Indian Missions and Posts abroad greater flexibility in swiftly addressing to requests for assistance by overseas Indian nationals.

“Apart from assisting Indian nationals in distress abroad, ICWF has been a critical support in emergency evacuation of Indian nationals in conflict zones in Libya, Iraq, Yemen, South Sudan and other challenging situations like assistance extended to undocumented Indian workers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during the Nitaqat drive in 2013 and the ongoing Amnesty drive in 2017,” it added.

ICWF to assist overseas Indian nationals in times of distress and emergency. Click To Tweet

Noting that the scale and speed of these evacuations and assistance rendered through the fund has been universally appreciated, the statement said that it “also created a sense of confidence among the migrant workers going overseas about the support they can expect from India during critical times”.

“ICWF stands extended to all Indian Missions and Posts abroad and is primarily funded by levying service charge on various consular services rendered by Indian Missions and Posts abroad,” it added. (IANS)


NewsGram is a Chicago-based non-profit media organization. We depend upon support from our readers to maintain our objective reporting. Show your support by Donating to NewsGram. Donations to NewsGram are tax-exempt.