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Caribbean: Why Not Amnesty For Coard?|
Posted on Thursday, February 17 @ 05:26:19 UTC by admin
By George Alleyne,
In the wake of Monday's decision by the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal that Bernard Coard and 12 others, who were convicted of killing Maurice Bishop and four Cabinet Ministers in the 1983 coup, should remain in prison, I renew my appeal, first made in October of 2003, for the luckless 13 to be granted an amnesty. The time is long overdue for the Governor General, exercising the powers granted to him under Grenada's Constitution, to grant a general pardon to Coard and the other 1983 coup prisoners. This is not to challenge or in any way question the decision of the Appeal Court Judges but rather to seek to nudge the authorities toward an amnesty for the coup leaders who have been in prison for more than 21 years.
Maurice Bishop, who had led the 1979 overthrow of the constitutionally elected Government of Grenada, and was himself removed by Coard, General Hutson and others opposed to his style of leadership, may have contributed to his death. But before I go that way what is unfortunate is that Bishop's removal and his subsequent death had been used by the Administration of the late President Ronald Reagan as the raison d'etre for military intervention. What is clear and particularly troubling is that the United States would have invaded Grenada even if Maurice Bishop had been in power, and probably would have argued, inter alia, that this had been made necessary because of Bishop's forcible removal of an elected Government and replacing it with a Marxist regime.
Let us not continue to uphold, however unintention-ally, this wilful distorting of history by the Americans, who have proclaimed to the world that they went into Grenada because Marxists had removed the legitimate (Maurice Bishop) Government. Let me recount some of the events in an effort for the umpteenth time to write them into the record. Earlier in October of 1983, a suicide bomber had blown up an American base in Beirut, killing upward of 200 Marines. The Americans smarting from the blow to their pride as the world's leading super-power ordered the long range shelling of Beirut and the subsequent heading for Grenada of several of the American warships on duty in the Middle East. It should have been clear to even the professional apologists for the Reagan Administration that it would have been impossible for US warships operating in the Mediterranean to have reached off Grenada within 48 hours of the overthrow of Bishop.
Indeed, it is reasonable to argue that since the redeployment of the American naval vessels had been clearly ordered before Bishop's overthrow that the original intention was to remove him and his Marxist regime. Bishop, Coard and company had been wedded to the idea of a Marxian Government solving all the social and economic ills of Grenada. They had romanticised Marxism, ignoring in the process that Russian Communism which they had idolised was nothing more, nothing less than State capitalism, and that the Soviet Union was just as Imperialist, dictatorial and expansionist as had been Czarist Russia. I am a Socialist, indeed an unrepentant Socialist, however neither of the left nor of the right, with the (centre) Socialist's suspicion, even contempt for the clearly impractical far left.
Maurice Bishop was wrong to have overthrown the constitutionally elected Government of Eric Gairy and, instead, should have continued to seek to put his New Jewel Movement's popularity to the electoral test, no matter how brutal Gairy's Administration may have been. But I have strayed. I had stated earlier that Bishop may have contributed to his death. Bishop had been overseas for a while and on his return to Grenada found that he had been deposed by a Bernard Coard-led faction of the communistic New Jewel Movement. He was detained under miserable conditions by men and women who had perhaps romanticised a wee bit too much about the late Josef Stalin's accession to power. Bishop would later be freed and would lead the march of a band of loyalists to Fort Rupert, clearly in the hope of seizing the arms and ammunition which would normally have been stored there.
Unfortunately, for Bishop they had been removed and he faced instead the firepower of soldiers opposed to him. Had Maurice Bishop and his followers found and were in control of the arms and ammunition, there would have been a massacre, and the Americans would have intervened, militarily, against Bishop and his tarnished Jewel Movement. I have written several articles, beginning not long after the heady days of 1983, about the tactics of deception employed by the Americans. I do not propose to repeat here what led me to understand fully the subterfuge of the Reagan Administration. Rather, I ask the question: What did the Americans do with the body of Maurice Bishop, and why did they think it necessary to prevent it being a rallying point for his former followers?
Average Score: 4|
|Re: Why Not Amnesty For Coard? (Score: 1)|
by Ayanna on Wednesday, February 23 @ 13:03:30 UTC
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|An interview with Bernard Coard |
Thursday, 13 January 2005
The following interview with Bernard Coard, former deputy Prime Minister of Grenada’s People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG) was conducted by Grenadian Journalist Leroy Noel for The Camera.
Coard is one of the 17 persons convicted for the death of Prime Minister Maurice Bishop and several of his cabinet colleagues that led to the US invasion of the island in 1983.
The trial of Coard and 16 of his colleagues -- known as the Grenada 17 -- raised eyebrows across the world, and even Amnesty International slammed it as a travesty.
The Grenada 17 are now awaiting a judicial decision that could result in them being freed from prison after 21 years.
Q: When Hurricane Ivan hit Grenada, on September 7th last, the walls of the prison in three locations, including in your section, collapsed, and the vast majority of prisoners fled, why didn’t you and the other members of the Grenada Seventeen?
A: Because it would have been highly irresponsible for us to do so, especially given who we were and are.
Q: But at that moment and for several days to come, there was no functioning government in Grenada, any functioning police force, and so on. Some prisoners fled to St. Vincent, some to Trinidad, and a few went as far as Venezuela. Some of these are yet to be located. Why didn’t you?
A: Only the guilty flee. Our position, from day one, is that we will stay and fight through the courts, for our freedom.
Q: Journalists from several regional and international media organizations interviewed you inside the prison on several of the days immediately following Ivan. They reported you as saying that you did not want nor would you accept freedom granted by the government of Grenada. Did you really say this?
Q: But if the government of Grenada were to offer you your freedom immediately, why, after twenty-one years wouldn’t you grasp it with both hands and leave the prison there and then?
A: We wish no favours from this or any other government of Grenada in the future. We have been illegally detained for twenty-one years. We are legally entitled to our freedom. We want it not from some government seeking to dispense ‘charity’ or ‘mercy’ – or gain political credit – but from a Court of Law based on the requirements of Grenada’s laws and constitution. It is more than time for the lawlessness with which our case has been handled over the last two decades to be brought to an end.