On the Commission of Inquiry on the murder of Comrade Walter Rodney

NASSAU, THE BAHAMAS–In June of 2013 the Government of Guyana announced that an International Commission of Inquiry would be held into Walter Rodney’s murder.

Comrade Walter Rodney was a Guyanese born African who was an historian, scholar and political activist who was known for his book "How Europe Underdeveloped Africa" and many other books and articles on the conditions and history of African people.

Rodney was a true African revolutionary and intellectual. He was a pioneer in bringing science to our movement and revolution. He came to grips with the class question early on in his life and died a true fighter for the emancipation of the African working class.

He was the co-founder of the Guyana based Working People's Alliance.

On June 13, 1980 Rodney was killed by a car bomb during a high point in his political development. He was only thirty-eight years old.

In a recent interview on Caribbean Forum Dr. David Hinds said that the first stage of the Commission of Inquiry was held, and there is a second stage that will be starting at the end of this month.

David Hinds is an Associate Professor of Caribbean and African Diaspora studies at Arizona State University.

Hinds said that there is speculation that given the number of witnesses that are coming forward and the length of their testimony, the inquiry may go on longer than anticipated.

Hinds reported that during the first round of testimony, which was done earlier this month, there were about three or four witnesses, including a former WPA activist and Walter Rodney’s brother.

Hinds told Caribbean Forum: “I think what is coming out thus far is a sense that we could get to the bottom of the cause, or causes of Rodney’s murder and whether in fact the state or government at the time were implicated. We have not gotten to that point yet. “

Hinds said that the Commission did indicate that they do have a witness who will testify about his role in infiltrating the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) at the time, and he said that probably could lead us to whether in fact the government or the state was involved.

“But I think the first part of the inquiry was marred by disagreements among the political parties over the terms of reference and over the personnel,” said Hinds.

He said the Peoples National Congress (PNC), the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and the Guyana Human Rights Association had objected to parts of the terms of reference of the commission, which they felt could take the inquiry outside the ambit of Rodney’s assassination.

They also objected to one of the commissioners who had done work for the government, a Guyanese who lives in Trinidad.

And the third objection, according to Hinds, was the way in which the government – the PPP – is setting itself up to use the inquiry as a way of appealing to the Indian ethic sensitivity.

Hinds said: “Obviously what has come out of the enquiry and what has already come out of the enquiry are instances of political violence and political brutality under the PNC in those days. The fear is the government is setting itself up to use this as a means of saying to East Indians this is what – if you do not give us back that majority at the next election – this is what you will have to deal with in the PNC and the APNU (A Partnership for National Unity).”

The PNC was in office at the time of Walter Rodney’s murder.

The PPP is considered to be the East Indian centered party and they are now in office.

The PNC had initially said that they would not take part in the inquiry.

They later changed that position, and have been represented at the inquiry by their legal team.

The Working People’s Alliance (WPA) said that because they were not consulted, they would not participate in the inquiry as a party; but freed its members to participate in their individual capacity.

Eusi Kwayana, co-founder of the Working People's Alliance, is expected to testify in the second round of the inquiry.

Caribbean Forum is hosted by Ron Semple, and is aired every Saturday morning between 9 am and 11 am on Uhuru Radio.

 

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