AFRICANGLOBE – A committee to aid an inquiry into the alleged assassination of prominent international activist Walter Rodney has called for “vigilance” to insure the investigation uncovers the truth.
The Justice for Walter Rodney Committee (JWRC) was launched last month to support the inquiry, which began on April 28, into the death of the historian and political activist.
Walter Rodney, author of seminal texts The Groundings With My Brothers (1969) and How Europe Underdeveloped Africa (1972), was killed in what is being called a ‘suspected assassination’ in Georgetown, Guyana on June 13, 1980, when an explosive device concealed in a walkie-talkie radio went off.
The former professor of the University of the West Indies, had challenged the then Forbes Burnham administration in Guyana, forming a new political group, the Working People’s Alliance, whose influence spread to the rest of the Caribbean, the US, Africa and Europe.
The Commission of Inquiry into his death was set up in June 2013 by Guyana’s president Donald Ramotar, following a request by the family.
The three-member commission comprises top Barbadian attorney, Sir Richard Cheltenham QC, Jacqueline Samuels-Brown QC from Jamaica and Trinidadian senior counsel Seenath Jairam.
JWRC, a committee of academics and other high profile professionals from all over the world, including South Africa, the US, Tanzania and the UK, said it “welcomed” the establishment of the Commission of Inquiry.
Member and associate professor of Indiana University East, Wazir Mohamed, said: “We have waited 34 years for this inquiry. It is in context that scores of concerned citizens from all parts of the world have come together to form the Justice for Walter Rodney Committee.
“Among the tasks of this newly established committee is to work with others in all parts of the world to ensure that the processes of this inquiry are fair, transparent and does not dishonor the memory of Walter Rodney.”
He added: “We therefore ask all Guyanese at home and abroad; and friends of Walter Rodney to be vigilant in order to ensure that the commission does the investigative work needed to get to the truth in this matter.”
JWRC has asked anyone with information to get in touch with the commission and has sent a letter to the inquiry requesting a “careful” examination of the circumstances surrounding Rodney’s death, including “secret underground cells at designated police locations”.
Professor Gus John, associate professor of the Institute of Education – University of London, said the inquiry was “the historical responsibility of the world”.
He added: “This commission has finally been established after 34 years, 34 years during which the name and reputation of Dr Walter Rodney, one of the most globally renowned intellectuals the Caribbean has ever produced, has been besmirched, traduced and generally disrespected, and those directly responsible for his murder have been allowed to escape justice and have died.”
Guyana’s High Commissioner Laleshwar Singh described Rodney as an “eminent Guyanese” and stressed that the inquiry was of “paramount importance”.
He said: “There has been a demand for this inquiry for quite some time, and in consultation with the Rodney family, the government of Guyana agreed the terms of reference and used all the facilities available to them to expedite this inquiry.”
John urged the commission not to “intentionally or…by default, contribute further to the scandalous way in which his assassination has been trivialised by the Guyanese state.”
He added: “This is why I applaud the formation of the Justice for Walter Committee, an international committee of concerned scholars and political activists dedicated to hold the commission to account, to working with them for just and honest outcomes and to ensuring that they get to the truth of this historical crime against Dr Rodney, his family and the world.”
By: Natricia Duncan