Our Readers' Opinions
December 18, 2015
Stop protesting in the name of peace?

Editor: I have listened to the comments and opinions of a number of Vincentians regarding the protest action that followed the December 9, 2015 general elections… “Take your licks like a man”, “We have to stand up for what is right”, “Waste of time…nothing is going to happen”. None of the comments surprised me, mainly because the comments appear to have been dictated by party politics.{{more}}

What was surprising, however, was the chastisement of the protesters for daring to protest. The appeal to protesters to allow the matter to take its course through the legal system is, I believe, both condescending and insulting to Vincentian citizens in general. How can you tell someone who feels that a grave injustice has been perpetrated against him that he should sit back and wait patiently on the legal system? How can you ask someone who has just lost what she sees as her only hope for a better future to carry on as if it is business as usual?

When a person is wronged, the natural reaction is to object, to challenge, to get justice. No doubt there would have been voices echoing the same anti-protest sentiment to the student protesters in Tiananmen Square back in 1989. Should they have been

compliant and docile in the face of the corruption and cronyism of China’s Communist government or protested for democratic reforms? And what about Martin Luther King Jr and Nelson Mandela? What a different world we would be living in today had they decided to seek justice through the courts only. Legal action, while often a necessary means to an end, is no substitute for protest action, but rather a complement to it.

The current fight for free and fair elections here in St Vincent and the Grenadines is a fight in defence of democracy on behalf of all Vincentians and is no less important than the struggle against racism in the USA, apartheid in South Africa or social disenfranchisement in China. Let’s not marginalize the cause of the protesters for the sake of “peace”. As Martin Luther King Jr said, “True peace is not merely the absence of tension, but the presence of justice.”

Zhinga Horne Edwards