Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 17th 2013 Contents A28
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt November 17, 2013
We write to appeal to the
Prime Minister, as
head of the Cabinet
and as guardian of the rights of all
citizens, to intervene on behalf of
19 aggrieved sporting, religious,
and community organisations in
Tacarigua and environs and other
users of the Orange Grove Savan-
nah, to bring to a halt the illegal
start of work on this Savannah,
adjacent to the Priority Bus Route,
initiated by the SPORTT from
November 11, 2013 and ongoing.
Poles for fencing are being erect-
ed around the perimeter of the
grounds. These grounds have been
used by communities since 1932.
The construction will deny Savan-
nah users the traditional access
they have enjoyed for decades.
Checks on Monday 11th and Fri-
day 15th November with the EMA
Registry for Certificates of Envi-
ronmental Clearance (CEC) show
that no approved CEC has been
issued to the SPORTT for this
operation. According to the provi-
sions of the CEC, no development
of this nature---for a sporting
ground to be used daily by 500+
people---is permitted without CEC
In common parlance, not one
single blade of grass is supposed
to be removed without a CEC and
consultation with stakeholders. No
notice has been given to residents
or users about this infringement
of their rights of access to this land.
We call upon you to halt this devel-
opment, which is causing emo-
tional trauma to thousands of cit-
izens who use the Orange Grove
In fact, Prime Minister, the cit-
izens concerned are so outraged at
this development that holes dug
initially by SPORTT contractors
appeared to have been refilled by
users on two occasions, prompting
the SPORTT to continue operations
under police guard. Prime Minister,
we are law-abiding citizens and
recognise that the anger which
prompted the refilling of holes can
escalate; we advised citizens to
respect the law. But respect for the
law must not only be by citizens,
Madam Prime Minister: the
SPORTT is breaking the law!
Checks with the Tunapuna Piarco
Regional Corporation also revealed
that no approval has been issued
under the Municipal Powers Act
for commencement of this work;
another instance to demonstrate
that SPORTT has not respected
the rule of law.
Madam Prime Minister, many
citizens, a significant majority of
whom voted for you and elected
you into office in 2010, have
expressed anger about what they
term as dictatorship by the
SPORTT and by the Minister of
Sport, especially as an important
community activity scheduled for
today---Sunday, November 17---on
those very grounds is affected
directly. It is the final match of
zonal cricket in the league and the
prize giving ceremony.
We invite you to come for your-
self, Prime Minister, to witness
what these grounds mean to our
communities. This invitation is
extended to members of Cabinet,
to obtain a firsthand impression
of how the Orange Grove Savannah
shapes our way of life in Tacarigua.
SPORTT IS BREAKING
THE LAW AT ORANGE
I feel ashamed of myself lately: I ve called
myself a fighter for social justice and democ-
racy in the past, but I was not there to support
the Fishermen and Friends of the Sea, when
they arrested a true patriot, Gary Aboud, for
taking part in a peaceful protest. The protest
is for the authorities to stop seismic testing
in the fisheries and hatcheries of the Gulf of
Paria. The constitution and singing of the
National Anthem were to no avail: the police
rushed in to "do their duty."
I feel ashamed because I was not there to
support Dr Wayne Kublalsingh in his quest
to prevent the construction of the Debe to
Mon Desir section of the highway, with his
group of supporters who are very dear to me.
The right to protest is their right: they are
fighting to keep their ancestral homes and
protection of the flora and fauna of the wet-
I feel ashamed because I was not there to
support David Abdullah and his supporters
around the Red House, the seat of democracy,
against the property tax, in a peaceful protest
by way of a "people s democracy" march. A
true patriot and another man of the people,
just trying to get the Government to do the
right thing; but the police nevertheless rushed
in to "do their duty."
Am I to assume that there is no such thing
again as a peaceful protest or demonstration
in Trinidad and Tobago? If there is no such
thing, when did this happen? Can anyone
tell me? Where is the Law Association in all
this? Where is Ramesh Maharaj in all this?
Are we all biting our own tongues everytime
we say the word "democracy"?
There is overwhelming evidence to support
the view that the Police Service, and by exten-
sion the Government, is making a bold state-
ment that there is no such thing as a peaceful
protest or demonstration; that people need
the Police Commissioner s permission to walk
with a placard to voice protest in every single
When did we reach here as a country?
Many times when people protest by burning
rubbish and blocking roads, no one is arrested;
yet they rush in to arrest upstanding and
educated citizens of this country for trying
to protect the environment and their way of
I cannot afford to be arrested. My wife and
two kids in university cannot afford to bear
the financial responsibilities if that happens.
If it were not so, then I believe they would
have to arrest me every Monday morning,
the way things are going in this country.
Hats off to Gary Aboud, a true patriot and
leader and man of the people. Hats off to
Wayne and David: history will remember
you, long after your persecutors.
We have a right to peaceful protest
I just wanted to compliment you on
continuing to include the column by
Marlene Davis in the Sunday Guardian.
I not only find it interesting but very
Please keep up the good work.
Keep up the good work
Recently, there has been an
increase in alleged incidents of
police brutality against citizens.
Some recent examples are: Kevin
Singh (he allegedly committed sui-
cide on November 2, 2013 by slam-
ming himself against the walls of
his cell while in police custody),
Eric Anatan Hosein (he died at the
Port-of-Spain General Hospital on
November 6, 2013 after allegedly
being pushed down some stairs by
a police officer) and the seismic
test protesters (they were forced to
end their alleged peaceful protest
on November 12, 2013 by the
police). These are just a few exam-
ples of alleged incidents of police
brutality against citizens, but there
may still be countless other unre-
ported incidents of police brutality.
With the high crime rate in this
country, the average citizen should
not automatically presume that
every victim of police brutality is
really "ah criminal who get what
he deserve for breaking the law!"
This acceptance of unjustified use
of force by the police, if not
opposed by reasonable people,
would undoubtedly open the entire
citizenry to further unfair and
unwarranted abuse by the police.
All citizens of this country want
less crime, but at the same time,
citizens must be cautious of inad-
vertently helping to create a police
Although incidents of alleged
police brutality have increased, the
crime rate continues to escalate.
One can only conclude that in
Trinidad and Tobago, one cannot
fight fire with fire, because both
the guilty and the innocent will be
No court of law here would ever
condone the unjustified use of force
by any arm of the state, especially
the Police Service. I advise any per-
son who feels victimised by police
brutality to fearlessly take his or
her complaint to the Police Com-
plaints Authority (PCA).
If he or she is not satisfied with
the service from that agency, then
legal recourse may either be sought
privately or from the Legal Aid and
Advisory Authority, if he or she
has limited financial means.
Whatever avenue is chosen, cit-
izens must remember that incidents
of unjustified use of force meted
out to you or members of your
family by police officers should not
Woody Guthrie once wrote: "I
know the police cause you trouble!
They cause trouble everywhere!
But when you die and go to heaven,
trust me, you would not find any
Do not help create a police state
Members, Save Our Green Space
Grant Memorial Presbyterian School choir sing We are the World during Champs in Concert---A Musical Journey, held
at the Southern Academy for the Performing Arts on Thursday night. PHOTO: RISHI RAGOONATH
WE ARE THE WORLD
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