On Tuesday, September 17, a number of residents from Tivoli Gardens and west Kingston, and members of the Tivoli Committee, plan to march to Gordon House to deliver a petition to Speaker Michael Peart, demanding the right to address parliament on a number of unresolved issues stemming from the brutal, military-style assault on the area in May 2010.
Please permit me to outline the areas we would like bring to the parliament's attention:
(1) There are hundreds of people whose property were criminally destroyed by the security forces but who have not been compensated. This compensation is legally due since the previous government acknowledged liability by authorizing compensation. The process was flawed however, and not all who suffered damage were compensated.
(2) There are a number of persons who were wounded by the violence of the security forces and who now cannot afford the expensive medication that is required to keep them functioning. These people must be taken care of by the government as a matter of urgency.
(3) We wish to explain to parliament why we reject any Commission of Enquiry which does not ultimately involve the International Criminal Court. The basic reason is that the international legal concept of crimes against humanity and the involvement of those who have command responsibility is not part of Jamaica's judicial concept and practice. No prosecution can therefore result from any type of investigation and that is why we believe the government should refer the matter to the ICC.
(4) We demand that the terms of reference for the commission of enquiry be published without further delay for public discussion purposes and for the public to be able to assess the real intent behind the government's planned commission of enquiry which we believe is designed to be a whitewash.
The matter is urgent since the government is not being transparent about its plans and parliamentarians should be given a chance to declare whether they support or oppose state terrorism.
Police indiscriminately pepper spray and taser residents of Tivoli Gardens
It has come to the attention of the Tivoli Committee that on Saturday, September 14, a police operation was conducted in Tivoli Gardens (we do not have the details) and a curfew was declared.
Residents claim that in order to enforce this curfew the police indiscriminately used 'pepper spray' to drive people off the streets and even off their own verandas. In addition, the police used 'taser guns' to attack a number of people without justification.
As for the use of pepper spray, which is a chemical weapon, banned by the Geneva Convention as a weapon of war, this is not the first report of police using this chemical weapon as a form of punishment against people in Tivoli Gardens and elsewhere.
The Minister of National Security, Mr Peter Bunting, has been hinting that he intends to equip the police with taser guns, supposedly to reduce fatal police shootings. Mr Bunting, like other pro-national security state ideologists, is being disingenuous in refusing to admit that fatal police shootings are not accidents. They stem from deliberate plans to kill, and it is a policy of the Jamaican state to support it even if with a nod and wink. As the minister of national security Mr Bunting should by now know this more than anyone else in the country.
The reason for equipping the police with taser guns must therefore be accepted for what it is: a decision to give the police another weapon at their disposal to brutalize and terrorize citizens.
The state has no intention of holding anyone accountable for the 2010 Tivoli Gardens Massacre and giving the police the right to pepper spray and taser citizens at their discretion (and even pleasure) is one more proof that the Jamaican state is indeed a terrorist state. Those who lead it must be held accountable.