GEORGETOWN, Guyana – A move by Guyana’s National Assembly to honour a Guyanese man who died in a jail in the United States after being convicted of terrorism charges has drawn harsh criticism from the United States Embassy. But the Government is adamant that it was simply paying tribute to a late Parliamentarian, as is the custom, and had no intention of glorifying a convicted terrorist.
On Friday April 26 last,, at a sitting boycotted by the Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) which has made it clear it will be absent until the Caribbean Court of Justice rules on its no-confidence motion appeal, the National Assembly passed a resolution paying tribute to former legislator and Mayor of Linden, Abdul Kadir who died in June last year.
The motion tabled by Junior Minister of Agriculture Valerie Patterson-Yearwood stated that “the people of Linden and Guyana have lost a great man, a stalwart, a bold and courageous man”, and expressed sympathy to Kadir’s “sorrowing widow, children, grandchildren and relatives”.
Kadir was sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of plotting a 2007 terrorist attack at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. And the US Embassy was not impressed that he was recognized in that way by the Parliament
“Members of the National Assembly, therefore, chose to honour a man who conspired to kill innocent people from across the United States and around the world. This resolution is an insensitive and thoughtless act, which demonstrates the National Assembly’s disregard for the gravity of Kadir’s actions,” it said.
“With this resolution, honouring a convicted terrorist, members of Guyana’s National Assembly have left a stain on their legacy as representatives of the Guyanese people and on their commitment to the rule of law.”
The Embassy added that while speaking at an International Peace Conference recently, US Ambassador to Guyana, Sarah-Ann Lynch held up Guyana as “a model to the world on religious tolerance and understanding”, and the National Assembly’s resolution on Kadir “draws into question that reputation”.
The Embassy pointed out that the move also came on the heels of Guyana’s historic cooperation with the US on the extradition of an alleged murderer. It was referring to Troy Thomas – who allegedly gunned down a 20-year-old man outside a house party in South Richmond Hill, Queens, New York in 2011 – who was extradited to the US last week and is now in prison awaiting trial on the second-degree murder charge.
“Members of Parliament have placed this resolution in direct contradiction to the efforts of security cooperation between our two countries,” the US Embassy said in its statement.
The PPP had also criticized the resolution, describing it as “another act of betrayal of democracy and the rule of law as it is clearly not reflective of the will of the people”.
But in a statement issued last week, the Guyana Government defended the National Assembly’s decision to pass the resolution paying tribute to Kadir.
“It is well known that there is a time-honoured convention of the National Assembly to observe, in a standard and solemn form, the work of former members who are deceased. The observance of this tradition has never been selective, and has included, over the decades, persons of all political parties and persuasions who served in the National Assembly,” it said.
“The Government of Guyana regrets the interpretation given to the motion passed in the National Assembly on April 26 on the death of Abdul Kadir, a former Member of Parliament. The Government of Guyana asserts that it had no intention of conveying the impression that the motion was designed to honour a former MP convicted of terrorism in another jurisdiction. The motion recognizes the member’s service as a parliamentarian.”
The David Granger-led coalition government further insisted that it “continues to condemn terrorism in the strongest possible way”.
“The Government of Guyana reaffirms its commitment to continue and intensify the fight against terrorism in any form and is proud of its record to date in this regard,” it stated.