GUYANA | MP Roysdale Forde defends active protests against injustice and discrimination

GUYANA | MP Roysdale Forde defends active protests against injustice and discrimination

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, May 17, 2024 - Senior Counsel and Member of Parliament Roysdale Forde, says he is an advocate for a more politically aggressive approach to opposition and supports the continuation of street protests, to challenge injustice and to defend citizens against social and political oppression.

Forde, who is an aspirant for the leadership of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), expressed disagreement with the opposition leader’s stance on street protests.

Speaking on Dr. Hinds’ Politics 101 show on May 13 2024, Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton, revealed that after evaluating the situation in Guyana, the PNCR has decided to move away from street protests, focusing instead on regaining political power.

Norton pointed out that despite the protests of 1997, discussions were still necessary, emphasizing that protests no longer lead to regime changes. 

“We will protest, but the form has to change; the kind of protest we are accustomed to has been effectively crippled by the government.”

The Opposition Leader’s view seems to contradict the going  concept of  street protests across the world today, which have  effected changes such as police brutality in the United States (U.S), the Israel/Palestine War, fights to protect women’s reproductive rights in the US after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade, and protest in Georgia against legislation that limits freedom of association.

Conversely, Mr. Forde provided a different perspective. Speaking to Village Voice News, he argued that Mr. Norton’s dismissal of protests has left various groups in Guyana—like public servants, policemen, nurses, teachers, and the vulnerable—without support. He described this as leaving them “in a canoe without a paddle.”

Social media and various activists have also responded to Mr. Norton’s position. Dr. David Hinds and Mr. Mark Benschop, in a discussion on Benschop’s “Straight Up’ programme on May 14, criticised Norton’s view, with Dr. Hinds highlighting that protesting is a fundamental right, citing its use against numerous injustices in Guyana.

Social media activist Rickford Burke and the Caribbean Governance and Development Institute (CGID) have denounced Mr. Norton’s stance as “misguided foolishness” and urged Mr. Norton to reevaluate his statements, emphasizing that protests are crucial for holding governments accountable.

A long-standing PNCR member in the diaspora Mr. Lawrence Houston was critical of the current leadership for not effectively utilising protests to challenge injustices. 

He lamented the lack of militancy in a party with a 70-year history of struggle, highlighting the successful protests by the Guyana Teachers Union despite facing similar challenges.

Mr. Forde, who announced his intention to run for the PNCR leadership on March 28th due to philosophical differences with Mr. Norton has advocated a more politically aggressive approach towards the business of opposition and supports the continuation of street protests, vowing to defend citizens against continued opression. This stance underlines a significant divide in the party’s approach to activism and leadership.

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