Thu | Jun 17, 2021

Reflect on human-rights violations

Published:Tuesday | June 19, 2012 | 12:00 AM


I vehemently disagree with those who see Jamaica as a failed state - a criticism that is uninformed, narrow-minded and ahistorical. Conversely, I disagree with the knee-jerk defenders of Jamaica. In fact, Jamaica is a state that is still in the process of being built.

Historically speaking, 50 years is not a long period of time, especially when seen in the context of the preceding three centuries of British colonialism. Thus, assessments such as the 'failed state' description that I have heard some people use are moot.

It is my hope that while we celebrate our accomplishments and our impact on the world, we also take stock of many injustices perpetuated under Jamaica's independent governments that have not been seriously discussed at the official level. The list includes police brutality, and group-focused events such as the suppression of Rastafarians after the Coral Gardens incident; the Green Bay Massacre; the more recent Tivoli incursion, etc.

Fight injustice

I am appealing specifically to those of us in the middle- to upper-income classes to actually show some real interest in justice. Jamaicans for Justice and other groups are exceptions in a milieu of indifference.

It is an uncomfortable fact that as much as we base economic success solely on individual hard work and sacrifice, the position and wealth of the richer classes in Jamaica (as with every country) is also linked to the disadvantage and underdevelopment of poorer people.

Yet, the 'us and them' thinking continues, supported by the notion that 'dem deh people deh' are somehow another kind of species - lazier, innately more violent, and essentially non-human.

The call for restorative justice, besides reparations for slavery, must be a major part of our reflections on Independence - and at the centre of it should be a serious look at class/race-based violations of human rights in this country, in both colonial and post-colonial times.