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Letter: Jamaica PM's deeper obsession with creating the new national security state
Published on July 14, 2017 Email To Friend    Print Version

Dear Sir:

Gleaner headline “’No Brutality’ Holness promises doors won’t be broken down with new crime law” needs some deeper analysis.

Doors were broken down and furniture and house fixtures criminally and deliberately damaged during the 2010 security forces operations in Tivoli Gardens and West Kingston. Holness doesn’t seem to be denying this.

But why did this happen in the first place? Shouldn’t the senior commanders who planned this operation months in advance have been held liable for terrorism based on their superior command responsibility?

Holness is saying that this won’t happen again? Why? Because he is the new superior commander? Is he therefore conceding that he, as the ultimate superior commander, will be held accountable should there be one such incident of abuse?

Acknowledgement of the prime minister’s superior command responsibility is THE only positive of this Zone of Special Operations. Don’t understand why the PNP wanted to dilute this aspect of it.

But by knowing that there is no agency that is truly independent of the state and capable of pursuing charges against the superior commanders, including Holness, for abuse, makes it easy for Holness to engage in grandstanding about “no brutality”.

Any claim that the state is capable of change and able to respect human rights is not credible, especially when no one has been held criminally liable for the 2010 Tivoli Gardens/West Kingston Massacre. Holness has been unwilling to tackle this matter head on and therefore has no credibility.

He has refused to apologize for the terrorist acts committed by the state in 2010. Interestingly, despite “apologizing” for the 1963 Coral Gardens “incident” he did not condemn then Prime Minister Alexander Bustamante for inciting violence against Rastafarians. Will he ever be prepared to condemn Bruce Golding, Owen Ellington and Stuart Saunders for their role in 2010? Don’t hold your breath.

Furthermore, the objective of this Zone of Special Operations is suspect because Holness chooses to downplay the notion that “poverty may be the reason” for the violence. Instead of devising a programme to tackle poverty, the elephant in the room – 1.2 million people living below the poverty line and up to 50% of the youth unemployed – it is clear that it is the armed confrontation which most seems to excite him. “The law is not going to excuse you because you are poor”!

Finally, what is not being probed in the media and by commentators is Holness’ apparent obsession with the new roll out of the Office of National Security Council and the interesting appointment of former JDF Chief of Defence Staff Major General Antony Anderson as his National Security Advisor.

What role did Maj. General Anderson, who accompanied Holness to Israel, play in formulating this “Zone of Special Operations”? And, did any advice given by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on matters of “domestic security” have anything to do with Zones of Special Operations, a la Israeli policy in Gaza and the West Bank? [We see a connection with the national identity system, but we’ll come back to that another time.]

Is Major Anderson, like Netanyahu and his unwavering policy against the Palestinians, still proud of his warning prior to the 2010 declaration of the state of emergency that: “The problem with those people [who were putting up fortifications in West Kingston] and Jamaica, for that matter, is that they’ve never really seen the JDF on a war footing, fully mobilized and in action.” [Core Values: A Soldier’s Story]

Is the Zone of Special Operations the first manifestation of the new national security state given Holness’ declared failure to address the crisis of poverty? Perhaps the reason also for his growth council czar to have invited Alvara Uribe to Jamaica. To teach us what? Death squads?

Sorry, Colombia has nothing to teach Jamaica about police death squads.

Lloyd D'Aguilar
Reads: 2360

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