TAKE WARNING

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In a recent comment on an editorial of The Observer Mr. Nigel Carty, nominated senator in the National Assembly and Minister of State, wrote the following:

December 18, 2007

The Editor

The St Kitts-Nevis Observer Newspaper

Cayon Street

Basseterre

Dear Sir/Madame

I am writing in response to your December 15, 2007 editorial “How Many Will Die”, where you ruminate as to how many people will die in the next elections in St. Kitts & Nevis.

Election-related killings, though a reality in other nations, are completely unknown here. As a member of a government that not only understands the importance of press freedoms, but indeed has actively facilitated this through the unprecedented issuance of newspaper and radio licenses over the past twelve years, I feel compelled to point out how highly irresponsible it was of your newspaper to inject the completely alien specter of election-related killings into the national psyche.

Your editorial, I noted with horror, suggested certain inevitability to the gruesome scenarios you seemed to be predicting, and I am at a loss to see how the macabre thrust of your unfortunate piece could ever advance peace, civility, and restraint in our tiny federation.

Please be assured that my government is committed to ensuring the existence of a free press in St. Kitts & Nevis.

We trust that The Observer will display a commensurate commitment to managing more carefully the sacred responsibilities that go hand in hand with these freedoms.

Yours sincerely

…………………………

Hon. Nigel A Carty

Minister of State

/c: Hon. Dr Denzil L Douglas – Prime Minister

Hon. Dwyer Astaphan – Minister of National Security

I beg to differ from Mr. Carty on this matter and I applaud The Observer for raising a matter which concerns a substantial segment of our society who worries about where the present spate of gun related activity will end.

While the majority of our population worry in silence, afraid to voice their fears, The Observer has had the courage to articulate how people feel and to bring the fear of the public into the open.

The editorial did not express a wish that the next general elections will degenerate into a shootout.  What is does instead is to warn the authorities and the general public that guns in the hands of untrained young men is a threat to any election campaigns.

I agree with Mr. Carty that political violence is foreign to St. Kitts, but so are the many guns which are being smuggled into our island.

In recent months the public has seen very clearly that once there are guns in the place, they will be used to settle differences. Having witnessed the use of guns to settle territorial scores between gangs of teenagers and young adults, it is not farfetched to speculate that these guns may be used to settle the political differences which will arise at the next election which some people say might happen this year.

The Scripture says in the Book of Proverbs:

The wise man foresees the evil and hides himself.

The simple pass on and are punished

I believe that the editorial is wise to foresee the evil of a possible bloodbath in the forthcoming election and to alert the public to the dire possibilities.  If the guardians of public peace are wise they would take seriously this potential danger and take careful and vigorous steps to prevent our islands from succumbing the evil forces of armed gunmen.

Political violence is common place all over the world.  Right now in Kenya and Pakistan the people are passing through a nightmare of extreme political violence.  People are car bombed, shot, and burned to death, while homes and shops are torched in the name of politics.

We in St. Kitts-Nevis should not think that we are immune to the terrible disease of violence and what I understand The Observer to say is that we must be on the alert as the next election draws near to the danger that our political contest may degenerate into violence.

I join with The Observer in this dire warning and contend that if the next election comes round before we can rid our island of all these deadly weapons, these weapons are likely to be used.

This is not an event which I look forward to but I am foreseeing the evil and urge my fellow citizens to be wise and hide themselves.

I am not implying that either of the political parties will arm themselves and try to defend their turfs with weapons of destruction.  It can happen without the behest of either of the political parties.  Some fanatical idiot can start it and it can escalate out of control.

Many years ago in Europe a fanatic shot and killed the Austrian heir to the dynasty. This single bullet shattered the peace of Europe and caused two world wars, which claimed millions of lives and changed the map of Europe forever.

A similar calamity of minor proportions can easily happen in St. Kitts as long as guns and ammunitions are allowed to remain in the reckless hands of ignorant youth.

In 1993, during the turmoil, which followed the general elections a young man confided to me that he would burn down the building on Cayon Street which housed the Ministry of Education.  I was so appalled that I passed the information to the Police who were able to safeguard this building and save an entire McKnight neighbourhood from utter destruction.

Now this young man was not allied to any political party.  He was simply a young man bent on mischief and destruction who sought to use the election turmoil to his advantage.

I think it was in 1995 in Old Road that a Labour meeting ended in confusion after someone fired a shot. Fortunately no one was injured, but that incident must have alerted Dr. Douglas and his colleagues of the possible dangers, which they faced from ignorant people.

I therefore submit to the Honourable Mr. Carty, Minister, that the approach should not be a chastisement of the newspaper which bore the message but rather a serious attempt to hide himself from the real and present danger of the proliferation of guns and ammunitions in St. Kitts and Nevis.

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