Author Topic: Hands Off British Virgin Islands  (Read 205 times)

Roger

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Hands Off British Virgin Islands
« on: May 05, 2022, 03:46:28 PM »
Hands Off British Virgin Islands
Caribbean Organisation for Peoples Empowerment, A.T. Freeman

May 4, 2022


   On Thursday 28 April, the Caribbean awoke to the news that the Premier of the British Virgin Islands (BVI), Andrew Fahie, along with that country's port director, Oleanvine Maynard, had been arrested in Miami and charged with drug trafficking and money laundering. The following day, the British appointed colonial governor of the BVI, Mr John Rankin, released the report of a one-man commission of enquiry that had been established by his predecessor in January 2021 with terms of reference to " inquire into whether there is information that serious dishonesty in relation to public officials may have taken place in the BVI in recent years, and to make recommendations with a view to improving the standards of governance and operation of the agencies of law enforcement and justice".

The principle recommendation of this report, written by retired British judge Gary Hickinbottom, was that in the BVI, Britain should revert to its method of governing its colonies prior to the achievement of universal suffrage in the region. This would mean the British governor, representing the British monarch, governing the BVI with the help of an advisory council. Making clear that this was his intention, Hickinbottom declared in his report, "I have concluded that the only way in which the relevant issues can be addressed is for there to be a temporary suspension of those parts of the Constitution by which areas of government are assigned to elected representatives Such a suspension would mean that the Governor would temporarily take over executive powers that are currently exercised by the elected Ministers".

Given the long history of Britain's colonial intrigues in the region, the close juxtaposition of these two events aroused suspicions across the Caribbean as to exactly what was going on. A message circulated on social media which claimed to be from the imprisoned Premier Fahie declared, "My people of the Virgin Islands, I was framed by our colonial masters, with the help of the United States, to oust myself from office, embarrass the VIP [Virgin Islands Party] but most importantly bring doubt and shame to the people of the Virgin Islands. Do not be fool by this. The God of the Universe allows no weapon to prosper against the righteous, and I know that I will prevail. I will not submit my resignation to His Excellency the Governor and upon my expected release under bail conditions this Wednesday, I will resume my role as Premier of our beautiful land Now is the time to Unite and rally against Britain, which I intend to lead. Please do not allow this minor British led entrapment, to divert our eyes and mind from the true issue at heart, right and determination to set our own destiny as a people". Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States Statement

On the 2 May, the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) issued a statement opposing the efforts of the British government to revert to direct colonial rule in the BVI. The statement declared, "The OECS has noted the position taken by the duly elected Government of the BVI which, while welcoming the recommendations arising from the Inquiry, rejects the intention of the British Government to impose direct rule on the BVI. It is clear to us that, in principle, it is ill advised to impose direct colonial rule and the history of such imposition in the Caribbean has never delivered the desired result . The OECS concurs with the elected representatives of the people of the BVI that abolition of Parliament with direct rule from London represents a retrograde step in the evolution of the democratic process that is inconsistent with the United Nations Proclamation of Human Rights to be free of colonial rule. The UN Declaration on granting independence to colonial countries and peoples – Resolution 1514 of 1960 is an international commitment to which Britain is itself bound". CARICOM Statement

On 3 May, CARICOM issued a statement supporting the position taken by the OECS and describing the proposed move as a "retrograde step" which would be inconsistent with Britain's obligations under the relevant United Nations resolutions. Britain's naked colonialist move has also been met with protests by the people of the BVI who are demanding that their voices be heard by the colonial governor John Rankin and Amanda Milling, Britain's previous Minister for Overseas Territories, who was despatched to the territory by the British foreign Secretary, Liz Truss.

Hickinbottom's report, which is the basis for the moves to return governance in the BVI to the one-man colonial dictatorship of the British governor, is a document rooted in the racist ‘white man's burden' ideology of Britain's ruling elite and cannot contribute to solving the problems of governance in the BVI.

Hickinbottom pins all the blame for the failures of the undemocratic Westminster system on the BVI politicians while denying that any responsibility in this regard rests with the colonial governor or the British government. Ironically, he condemns the lack of transparency in political decision making in the BVI as if this is not a feature of the Eurocentric ‘representative democracy' system. But the lie is given to his claim by the fact that his own appointment as a one-man commission by the governor and the very drawing up of his terms of reference took place with no transparency for the people of the BVI and certainly without their participation. He criticises the BVI politicians for abusing their power by knowingly taking into account private interests when making decisions. Clearly Mr Hickinbottom has zero understanding of how ‘representative democracy' works and does not understand that, in this system, public decision making is driven precisely by the private interests of the wealthy. Most offensive in its racist character is his declaration that the UK government owes the people of the BVI "an obligation not only to protect them from such abuses but to assist them to achieve their aspirations for self-government as a modern democratic state". Racist Colonial Narrative

The racist idea that the British government has an obligation to protect the people of the BVI from abuse because they are unable to protect themselves is straight out of Britain's racist colonial narrative that the colonised people are ‘child-like' and need to be looked after by the colonial master. This deeply offensive racist argument is further exhibited in Higginbottom's claim that the British government has to assist the people of the BVI to achieve a modern democratic state. He clearly thinks that the people of the BVI are incapable of achieving this, themselves.

For Mr Hickinbottom's information, the British government has been one of the most consistent and determined enemies of human freedom, human rights and democracy in the Caribbean. From its repeated efforts to suppress the efforts of enslaved Africans to achieve their freedom up to the shooting and imprisonment of those who raised the demands for universal suffrage and independence across the region in the 1930s, the British government has been an implacable foe of every step for human upliftment in the Caribbean. It has no role to play in the struggle of the people of the BVI for a democratic state. It speaks volumes about Hickinbottom's own vision of democracy that he proposes a one-man dictatorship of Britain's colonial governor as the best way of achieving it.

It is now over 60 years since the United Nations General Assembly adopted its Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples which recognised that "the peoples of the world ardently desire the end of colonialism in all its manifestations .and that an end must be put to colonialism". It is unacceptable that in 2022, Britain's ugly colonial head is once again reared in the Caribbean. Time is overdue for the people of the Caribbean to put an end to British, French, Dutch and US colonialism in the region.

Hands off the BVI!