Thursday 8th June 2006

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Shock and awe

Indian Arrival Day (May 30) is a period when the Hindu community and all Indo Trinidadians reflect on the difficulties, deprivations and discriminations that our ancestors endured and the methods they used to overcome.

It is also a time when we celebrate our ancestors’ triumphs. We remind the younger generation through our cultural pageants and speeches of their religious and cultural inheritance. We also remind the national community and ourselves of discriminations that are yet to be removed.

On May 30 I delivered the Maha Sabha’s Indian Arrival Day message on the grounds of the Parvati Girls Hindu College, Debe:

Trinidad and Tobago is aware of the recent cases of discrimination against the Maha Sabha. Our quest for a radio licence and a change of the Trinity Cross as our highest national award are matters that have been in the public arena.

We wish to now draw your attention to Devant Maharaj, Feroza Ramjohn, Ganga Persad Kissoon and Khemraj Bissessar who are victims of racial cleansing!

Permanent Secretary Ramnarine of the Ministry of Education and Permanent Secretary Seeram of the Ministry of Legal Affairs have been moved in what is described as “widespread shifting in the Public Service.”

School Feeding director Ken Emrith has been terminated!

At WASA, the terminated include CEO Kanchand Khanhai, engineer Tota-Maharaj, Asgar Ali Hosein, Narine Ramtahal. And at Petrotrin Kelvin Ramnath, Sharma Maharaj, Ali Hosein and a host of other Indian employees were all listed to be demoted or to be terminated.

As governor of the Central Bank, Winston Dookeran’s contract was not renewed. At the state-owned media CEO Curtis Manchoon was removed and popular television host Hansely Adjoda effectively barred except for cameo appearances.

At MTS, CEO Terrance Kalloo has also been removed. What is also equally startling is that these persons are not being replaced by any Indo-Trinidadians. The list is long and frightening!

The Indo-Trinidadian community is witnessing a “shock and awe” programme with this state-sanctioned policy that directs significant state resources to one ethnic group to the exclusion of other groups.

The lowering of qualifications for state employment, house padding, the establishment of the University of Trinidad and Tobago, the elevation of criminal elements to community leaders, the proposal of a political union with other Caribbean islands without national consultations and state-sponsored projects such as Cepep and Hype are all examples of the programme conceived to push the Indian out of the space that is shared in Trinidad and Tobago.

Article 14 (1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights declares: “All persons shall be equal before the courts and tribunals. In the determination of any criminal charge against him, or of his rights and obligations in a suit at law, everyone shall be entitled to a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal establishment by law.”

The Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha has now intervened in the impasse between Prime Minister Patrick Manning and Chief Justice Satnarine Sharma. Although we have a constitutional separation of powers—the legislative, the Executive and the judiciary—efforts are being made by the Executive led by Prime Minister Patrick Manning to interfere in matters of the judiciary.

Using the police force to raid the Chief Justice’s office and seize sensitive legal documents while the Chief Justice himself was representing our country in Czechoslovakia is viewed by us as a clear violation of the separation of powers principle.

The Maha Sabha has written a number of international agencies about what we consider attempts to terrorise the judiciary and control the judicial system.

The Hindu religious organisation has invited a delegation to visit T&T to observe and investigate what we consider the subversion of the judicial system.

The International Commission of Jurists based in Geneva, Switzerland, is linked to the United Nations and is the centre for the independence of judges and lawyers. This Commission of Jurists deals with governments, in particular with cases of harassment of jurists, observes trails which impact upon judicial independence, or where lawyers are targeted.

It conducts fact-finding missions to countries where the functioning of the judiciary is under serious threat.

For public information we detail a list of international agencies we have invited to investigate the political attempts in T&T to frighten and control our independent judiciary:

1. The International Commission of Jurists, PO Box 91, 33 rue des Bains, 1211 Geneva, 8 Switzerland.

2. The International Bar Association, 10th Floor, 1 Stephen Street, London W1T 1AT, United Kingdom.

3. International Law Commission, Secretary of the International Law Commission, Rm. S3460A, United Nations Plaza, New York, NY, 10017, USA.

4. The Carter Center, One Copenhill, 453 Freedom Parkway, Atlanta, Ga. 30307.

5. Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin, Gopio Inc, PO Box 1413, Stanford, CT 06904, USA.

SATNARAYAN MAHARAJ is the Secretary General of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha








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