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posted 16 Oct 2011, 18:28 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 16 Oct 2011, 18:31 ]
 Comrade Vincent Cabrera, the President of the Banking Insurance and General Workers' Union (BIGWU) issued the following media release on October 13th 2011.
The hidden agenda of the Kamla Persad-Bissessar administration has now come fully to light with the Police Commissioner’s decision to deny the request of the People’s National Movement to hold its traditional post-Budget public discussion at Piggott’s Corner in Belmont.

The refusal to grant permission to the elected Parliamentary Opposition, clearly illustrates definite political interference or at the very least an unwanted and undesirable political influence on decision making by the Commissioner of Police.

From the very beginning of the declaration of the State of Emergency, the trade union movement had warned that the State of Emergency was an elaborate ruse by the government to block trade union activity and growing public dissatisfaction with the government.

We were not fooled by the Prime Minister’s claim that the real target of the State of Emergency was criminal activity, and understood that the government had descended to exploiting the public’s fears and anxieties on crime for the more sinister purpose of suppressing public protest and opinion.

The separate refusals by, first, the Joint Trade Union Movement and now the People’s National Movement have both tested the PM’s claim that the State of Emergency  was only about crime and not about trade union and political activity.

By denying both applications, the Commissioner of Police serves as the government’s instrument of oppression and suppression and leaves us in no doubt about the real political intent behind the State of Emergency.

This trickery on the population has been covered by the scandalous façade of pappy show arrests in which thousands of citizens are being rounded up on routine matters such as parking tickets, as well as gang-related charges that are being daily thrown out of court for lack of evidence.

The latest to add salt to the public wound is the political leader of the Congress of the People (COP); Prakash Ramadhar has suggested that the PNM should live in harmony with the government.

This is in keeping with the growing totalitarian tendency of the government to brand its opponents as divisive traitors to the nation. His statement is a coded message to suggest that the PNM’s holding of a political meeting will comprise a threat to good order in Trinidad and Tobago.

It is time for the State of Emergency charade to stop. I therefore call on all right-thinking citizens to let their voices be heard on this matter and to stand up in defence of the cherished rights to freedom of assembly and expression.

The pertinent question has nothing to do with support for the PNM but rather with a time honoured principle. We must either defend our right to freedom of assembly and broader political freedom or lose that right by failing to stand up and be counted for what is right and not for what is simply opportunistically and politically expedient.

The denial of the Opposition’s request to meet and assemble publicly is an extremely serious matter and we say to those who remain silent, that if the shoes were on the other foot, there would have been loud protestations against such decision. A principle is a principle and we must speak out regardless of who occupies political office.