EMANCIPATION DAY MESSAGE 2017
FROM STEPHEN EDWARDS
PRESIDENT OF GENERATION 2000 (G2K)
This year Jamaica celebrates the 183rd anniversary of our emancipation from slavery, which was a tremendous victory over the worst form of injustice that one human being can inflict on another. Today we celebrate that magnificent achievement of our forefathers, many of whom were slaves like Sam Sharpe, who endured many struggles and made great sacrifices to secure the freedoms that we now enjoy.
While we celebrate this glorious victory over oppression it is important that we take time to analyze how far we have journeyed as a people and to ensure that in all our actions we honour the sacrifices that were made. The greatest honour that we can pay to those who fought the long and arduous battle for emancipation is to fiercely protect our nation against any threat to responsible use of freedom and other inalienable human rights.
For decades, the annual number of murders in Jamaica has been on a steady climb, with few exceptions due to temporary interventions. Today the statistics show that while overall crime is trending downwards by 4 per cent when compared to last year, there has been a 21 per cent increase in murders. There has also been a 19.7 per cent increase in the number of shootings. The vast majority of these shootings and murders are done at the hands of criminals with illegal guns.
Illegal firearms have been used to infringe on every right and freedom that is prescribed by the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms Act, which documents the fundamental rights that should be afforded to each citizen of Jamaica. The most glaring infringement of these rights is the total disregard that criminals have for (1.) the right to life, liberty and security of the person and (2.) the right to freedom of movement.
It is therefore incumbent on us to unite around a campaign to rid our nation of illegal guns, which is clearly the greatest threat to the rights and freedoms that our forefathers fought to secure for us and for future generations. The Zones of Special Operations Act is the newest and most promising tool that we have at our disposal to find and retrieve the mass of illegal weapons that are cached in the crevasses and corners of the country. It must be supported and implemented quickly so that law abiding citizens can have the freedom to live, work, raise families and accomplish their dreams and aspirations without hindrance or fear.
As we enjoy the Emancipation Day festivities, let us remember that the fight for human rights and freedoms is a continuous one. Let us rise to the occasion of continuing this fight so that Jamaica can unshackle its true potential for prosperity.
Stephen R.P. Edwards
President – Generation 2000 (G2K)