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Letter: Holness using bluster to cover his tracks on Tivoli massacre
Published on January 17, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

Dear Sir:

The full text of the letter has not been made public, but it is reported that JLP opposition leader, Andrew Holness, has written to prime minister Portia Simpson-Miller "regarding the appointment of persons to serve as commissioners for the west Kingston Commission of Enquiry."

Holness wants to be "informed of the terms of reference of the enquiry before the appointment of commissioners given the importance and sensitivity of the matter." He believes that the "public interest" will be best served by consultation with the opposition on these matters.

The opposition leader may use words like "public interest" and "sensitivity" to try and camouflage his real concern about a commission of enquiry but it doesn't take rocket science to figure out his real concerns.

First of all, no one will forget that Holness personally played a key public relations role in fronting for Bruce Golding during his disastrous handling of the extradition request for Christopher Dudus Coke. And, by his silence during the massacre, Holness would have signalled that as a senior Cabinet member he took personal and collective responsibility for the most vicious murder of civilians since the 1865 Morant Bay massacre. Away with talk about "public interest" and "sensitivity": it is Holness' own involvement in this murder that he is concerned about.

As prime minister, following Golding's resignation in disgrace, Holness said very clearly that he saw no reason for a commission of enquiry. His concern then, as it is now, was the political embarrassment this could cause Golding, himself, and the Jamaica Labour Party.

Holness even went to Tivoli last year to encourage residents not to support a commission of enquiry. He and his team of high ranking JLP members used made vague, but vulgar promises about compensation and 'rebuilding' the area. This was their alternative.

When it became clear that the government was determined to have an enquiry, and that this had public support, he reluctantly changed his tune, now admitting that "under Jamaican law" "its members" would be obliged to appear if summoned.

The real explanation for this letter to the prime minster, is that Holness senses that the government is not keen on having an enquiry and hence bluster can be used to manipulate the enquiry to suit his purposes. In other words, Holness recognizes, even though there is no indication that this is the intention of the government, that even at this late moment, it is still theoretically possible for the government to accept the Tivoli Committee's public recommendation that the matter be referred to the International Criminal Court for prosecution.

This is ultimately what Holness is trying to ensure doesn't happen.

The Tivoli Committee therefore calls upon civil society to demand that the government must commit to ensuring that this enquiry make a determination if 'crimes against humanity were committed" and that those who had command responsibility for the massacre must be referred to the ICC for investigation and prosecution as we think they should.

Once again we identify the individuals who had supreme command responsibility: (1) former prime minister Bruce Golding; (2) former head of the Jamaica Defence Force, Major General Stewart Saunders; (3) Police Commissioner Owen Ellington; and (4) former minister of national security Dwight Nelson; among others.

Anything less than this approach will prove that the massacre was not just a security forces massacre, but a criminal, conspiratorial act instigated by the political ruling class -- the Jamaica Labour Party and the People's National Party -- and whitewashing it is their way of covering their tracks and to set in motion more massacres to come.

Lloyd D'Aguilar
Tivoli Committee
Reads: 8484

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