22 November 2009

Deposed Premier Condemns Climate of Fear in Turks and Caicos Islands

Premier Gilley calls for Unity

Turks and Caicos Weekly News
13 November 2009

By Rebecca Bird

FORMER Premier Galmo Williams hit out at Governor Gordon Wetherell this week accusing him of setting the country back 50 years. In a fiery press statement the PNP leader called again for a public uprising against the British-led government.

He said that Mr Wetherell has yet to inform the country of his plans for moving the country forward or “how he intends to empower TC Islanders.”

“I always believed and still do today, that the British Government does not have a plan for this country.

“It appears that their main aim is to cripple this country’s economy by stifling development and marginalising Turks and Caicos Islanders.”

Mr Williams claimed that the British have created their own ‘climate of fear’ over the past three months and said that people are afraid to speak out against the Governor’s actions for fear of victimisation.

He added: “I would like to make a final appeal to all Turks and Caicos Islanders, whether you are a PNP or PDM, persons residing in this country, those of you who care about and love this country, to let us come together as one and demand our country back - history has proven that there is strength in unity.”

In Wednesday’s statement Mr Williams also accused the Governer of hypocrisy in his actions. He challenged him to explain the “influx” of British advisors after criticising the former PNP government of appointing their own advisors.

The PNP veteran said that Islanders are being “shoved to the side” and earning “meagre” salaries. “Today I am disheartened at the fact that so many of our Turks and Caicos Islanders are being marginalised and being replaced by persons from the UK whose qualifications and experience still remains a mystery.

“Our PNP Government did not spend $18m dollars annually educating Turks and Caicos Islanders to be placed on the back burners making meagre salaries, whilst persons coming from the UK are in the frontline making huge salaries along with many benefits.

"Turks and Caicos Islanders, those of you who say you love this country, you must speak out. “You must let your voices be heard.”

Mr Williams also accused the Governor and his advisors of trying to “frustrate” TC Islanders into quitting their jobs. He cited former Registrar of Lands Kendle Williams and former Director of Tourism Lindsey Musgrove as examples.

Governor Gordon Wetherell was not available for comment up until press time.


Editor's Note:
In the wake of the 'colonial coup' undertaken by the British Government in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) earlier this year with the abolishment of the elected government of the territory and the imposition of direct rule by the London-appointed governor, the United Nations (UN) made but a few minor adjustments to the language of the TCI section of the resolution when the UN Fourth Committee adopted its text. These changes insufficiently reflected the seriousness of the extraordinary development that had taken place, and the political crisis which has been created, and which continues as evidenced by the comments of the deposed Premier (see above article).

A request from activists in the territory for a separate resolution to address the complexities of the issue, similar to the UN resolution in the case of the coup in Honduras, was not heeded. The Honduras resolution, of course, elicited no action on the ground in Honduras, since the coup government remains in place, and the dutifully elected president remains in the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa - but at least the UN stated its position on principle. No such luck for a non self-governing territory such as the Turks and Caicos Islands which has no voice in the political bodies of the UN. Ironically, both coups took place in the Western Hemisphere where democracic governance is a priority.

Since the UN General Assembly meets in early December to complete its work on decolonisation for the year, there is still time for it to express its indignation with what has taken place. The following is a draft of a resolution which the UN might consider:

Draft Resolution on the Suspension of Democratic Governance in the Non Self-Governing Territory of the Turks and Caicos Islands

The General Assembly,

Deeply concerned that in reaction to the findings of a Commission of Inquiry on the administration of the Turks and Caicos Islands, the administering power of the territory has suspended major provisions of the Turks and Caicos Islands constitution, and in the process, has abolished the Premiership, Cabinet and House of Assembly, trial by jury and other provisions of the constitution, and has replaced democratic governance with direct rule by the governor acting on behalf of the administering power,

Noting with interest repeated requests made by the elected Premier, including in his statement to the May 2009 Caribbean regional seminar of the Special Committee on Decolonization held in St. Kitts and Nevis, calling for new elections to resolve the political crisis, and Noting with regret the subsequent rejection of these requests by the Government of the United Kingdom, the territory's administering power;

Taking into account the stated position of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) which emphasized that the imposition of direct rule was a regrettable forced step backward; that the democratic process could not be strengthened by removing representative democracy from the citizens of the territory; and that it would have been far more beneficial, and the results more sustainable, to involve the people of the territory through their elected representatives in the efforts required to strengthen the good governance and public administrative processes in the territory;

Also taking into account the position of the Non Aligned Movement Coordinating Bureau at its 2009 ministerial meeting that called for the urgent restoration of the constitutional government in the territory pursuant to the Constitutional Order of 2006;

Bearing in mind Article 73(b) of the United Nations Charter which recognizes, inter alia, the responsibility of member States which administer non self-governing territories to develop self-government, to take due account of the political aspirations of the peoples, and to assist them in the progressive development of their free political institutions;

Also bearing in mind Article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and other relevant human rights instruments, which affirm that “all peoples have the right to self-determination (and) by virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development;”

Recalling the Inter American Democratic Charter of the Organization of American States (OAS) which, inter alia, "recognizes that representative democracy is indispensable for the stability, peace, and development of the region, and that one of the purposes of the OAS is to promote and consolidate representative democracy,"

Further recalling Article 1 of the Inter American Democratic Charter which states that "Democracy is indispensable for the effective exercise of fundamental freedoms and human rights in their universality, indivisibility and interdependence, embodied in the respective constitutions of states and in inter-American and international human rights instruments,"

Confirming that the unilateral abolishment by the administering power of the elected government of the territory violated recognized principles of democratic governance, and was inconsistent with the international treaty obligations of an administering power as contained in the United Nations Charter and relevant human rights conventions,

1. Calls for the restoration of constitutional government, as a matter of urgency, pursuant to the Turks and Caicos Islands Constitutional Order of 2006 in order to facilitate the conduct of new elections in the territory, and requests the administering power to facilitate relevant electoral assistance to the territory in the conduct of the elections consistent with relevant resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly,

2. Further calls for the creation of a timetable for the self-determination and subsequent decolonization of the territory in accordance with the freely expressed wishes of the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands, and in conformity with the legitimate political status options clearly defined in Resolution 1541 (XV).

3.  Requests the Secretary-General to report to the General Assembly in three months on the implementation of the present resolution.