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Given our long history of struggle for freedom and democracy, a “Democracy Award” is most apt to recognize the contributions of individuals and organizations who made significant contributions championing, advocating for, institutionalizing, defending, and protecting democracy and who did so consistently. There are not too many. Only a handful of individuals were consistently involved in the struggle for democracy in Guyana from the 1960s till today. Some were previously honored for contributions to nation. Some of the activists' lives, livelihood, career, family, education, physical safety, and comfort in jeopardy and used personal funds struggling for democracy in Guyana; they and families encountered tremendous suffering during that long battle. Others (including many who did not participate in the struggle) became beneficiaries from the sacrifices of those who championed democracy. Guyana owes a debt of gratitude to those who made sacrifices and played significant role to protect or champion or advocate for democracy. They didn’t have to make those sacrifices; they did so voluntarily to save nation. Their contributions are highly appreciated. They should be recognized for their work.
Of the suggested nominees (as confined to the 2020 struggle), there are ground activists and writers and some who were more involved in one aspect of the struggle but not the other. Dr. Nanda Gopaul, for example, a founder of GUARD, was a leading activist, and though an outstanding author, did not pen much demanding democratic rights but was consistent in the struggle from 1966. Freddie Kissoon (and Jerry Jailal) were commentators in 2020 and also played some role as activists during the authoritarian years. Freddie was in the media after 1986 and Jerry after 2018. I ( Vishnu Bisram ) have functioned both as a ground activist and commentator post 1966. There are individuals, names not mentioned by nominator Jai Lall, whose writings were not pronounced in 2020 but who played extremely critical roles in writing and in activism pre-1992 and whose roles stood out – Dr. Baytoram Ramharack from 1978, Vassan Ramracha 1978 onwards, Ravi Dev (1987 onwards), among a few others. And there were several activists from pre-1992 period who were not very active in 2020 and not involved in the media but played prominent roles including Chuck Mohan, Mel Carpen, Flattie Singh, Raj Singh (late 1980s). Chuck was a dedicated activist in the same mould as the late Arjune Karshan, and they started the PPP support group in USA in the early 1970s. Mahadeo Persaud also played some role pre-1992 and in 2020. Joe Ragnauth (of DLM) was active pre-1992. There were individuals who were silent in 2020 but played significant role pre-1992. Dr. Dolly Hassan was extremely outspoken pre-1992. Dr Randy Persaud played a behind the scenes role in 2020. Unsung heroes Mike McCormack, Nigel Westmaas, Eusi Kwayana, Moses Bhagwan, among others did not condemn the rigging of 2020. And there were several other unsung heroes of pre-1992 who were cast aside like Alberty Rodrigues, Father (Monsignor) Terrence Montrose, Fr John Persaud (Jesuit), Sister Doreen Rowtie (blood ran down her gown standing up for democracy as goons mauled her, a brave, courageous woman), among others. Dr Vishnu Bandhu was very active in America and Guyana pre-1992 and onwards. Paul Tennassee was an outstanding champion of democracy pre-1992 and a victim of state sponsored violence. Charrandass voted against his government in the NCM - should he be honored? Some individuals got national awards like Kit Nascimiento from the PNC government. Not sure if Gerry Gouveia and Alberty were honored. Dr. Gopaul was never honored for his contributions to democracy.
Lesley Ramsammy was active around 1990 onwards and contested the 1992 elections. Lester Siddhartha Orie of Trinidad also the movement in NY and Guyana working with Ramsammy. There are several other figures who were also involved the FFE movement in the diaspora and in Guyana.
By no means am I suggesting that everyone mentioned above should be honored but their role should be recognized.
The government should right past wrongs by honoring champions of democracy now!