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The vigil I have kept

By Martin Daly

 As the shock continues to manifest itself, I am concerned about lapses in taste in references to the death of Dana Seetahal SC.

Principal among these lapses is an argument whether Dana’s last column “supported” the Attorney General. I can understand there being a reaction to the Attorney General going partisan and claiming such support, while everyone else was still in shock. However some lapses of taste and judgment should not be followed.  

There is a grieving family to be considered and protected. That is why the Minister of Legal Affairs also lapsed badly by throwing the name of Dana’s sister into the media less than a week after the murder, which could only serve to ratchet up fear and distress.

Likewise, whether the point that persons may be callous towards female victims is valid or not, did we need to juxtapose Dana’s picture with that of Sacha Singh in a women’s magazine at this sensitive time?

The continuing vigils are more understandable in the climate of fear and distress now prevailing but some of these vigil keepers have been in a lengthy slumber. 

I am a long-standing vigil keeper against the impunity with which violent crime is committed, the lame excuses and political spin and the complacency of politician and citizen alike. I take no joy in setting out some particulars of my vigil in the form of extracts from my columns starting as long as 11 years ago.

“And so it is truly fiddling while Rome burns to ignore the ambivalence of the greedy politicians and to shrug off the deep seated rot that is responsible for the criminal elements being able to pervert our democracy.  Who among us will consider the life and death issues in priority over affiliation, greed and hugging up party in power?” (October, 2003)

“If killing is done with absolute impunity in broad daylight or as a result of coke in the head or for revenge or by paid assassination, to whom should we look to rectify the culture of impunity?  

Answer us Mr Prime Minister, answer us.  Whether the bandits are attacking an average citizen, an un-average citizen or a bad citizen they ought not to strut in the brazen certainty that killing, kidnapping and robbery are risk-free businesses”. (December 2003, referring to the murders of Annette Farah, Marlon Hassick and Christopher Aleong together with preciously young Arvin Bissondial).

“How sleep you now unfeeling kings?  Does one human feeling creep through your heart’s remorseless sleep?” (December 2003, quoting the poet Shelley in reference to the lack of common sympathy among our politicians.)

“There is still random mortality for all and the authorities sleep well and wave their rags.  The sycophants whose children may be next in the morgue provide the curry goat and premium drinks and put on grovelling shows of respect that last as long as they can get some advantage for their business or themselves”. (March, 2004)

“The plantation crop is now gas and the planter is now the Exploration and Production Company but we may be returned like slaves to confinement to barracks by the unofficial rule of the gun lords and drug lords and outbursts of resentment against person and property. Mark my words again.  Conventional social order is on its way to being fully overthrown”. (May 2004)

“A law abiding citizen can be murdered any time anywhere, if his car shuts down on the road—Neketo Joseph, buying a chicken and chips—young Rattan, going home from steelband practice—Maria Greenidge, sitting on the porch—Annette Farah, lured from home by a paedophile—Akiel Chambers; and you know that no killer will ever be caught by the police” (September, 2007).

The above selections from my columns speak for themselves about the long vigil I have kept. There is little need to add to them as I have remained consistent to my theme to the present day. Very sadly, Dana’s murder is more of the same. It has occurred after I began 2014 by stating that unrestrained evil doers are again making a mockery of the mindless statistics which the present Government is pushing at us in a vain attempt to persuade us that it is more effective

One must again emphasise that there is a cultural factor that militates against turning the society around. It is the silence and passivity of the validating elites in the face of outrageous events such as the disclosure that 17 cocaine packaging type pellets were removed from the stomach of someone admitted to a private nursing home by a surgeon, presumably connected with that nursing home. 

If vigils are being kept to bring us awake to the indifference of a decade, they are a small step towards reversal of that indifference. A lot more than the sacrifice of time to attend benevolent gatherings (which our politicians will treat as just another photo-op) will be required.

 
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