Bruneau Laurette was not a public figure until the build-up before his Port Louis demonstration of 29 August. Most people had never heard of him. He had had no public platform before. Then a private radio did video broadcasts of him pointing to little, moving arrows following satellite-tracked vessels. He pointed to them on a screen. This was supposed to add up to the Government needing to get kicked out for mishandling the wreck of the Japanese ship Wakashio that provoked the tragic oil spill. The little arrows were linked also to innuendoes about drug-trafficking. The innuendoes became rumours, and were then repeated by people who should know better.
Laurette must have had some strong backing of some sort for his meteoric rise. All is not yet clear.
For the record, a list of factual points.
In LALIT, we Googled the name “Bruneau Laurette” during the build-up to the demonstration of 29 August. We did this because he was clearly by then being built up in the Press as a populist leader of some sort, and this is obviously of concern. We needed facts.
We found, to our shock, that he had been trained by Israeli Defense Force top brass, in particular those in the Special Forces. This is a fact. It is relayed on his own social media home pages.
And it is also a fact that he is proud of this.
He gave Scope Magazine a copy of his photo opportunity with one of the Israeli top brass, Major Avi Nardia in 2018. You can Google and see for yourself (1). On the IDF Special Forces man, Avi Nardia’s home page, he claims the following: that his team is “utilizing realistic scenarios that have emerged from real world experience”, no doubt referring cynically to hands-on repression against Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, or worse (2). This is a fair deduction.
As well as being trained by Israeli military Special Forces, Bruneau Laurette said in an interview that he was also trained in Santa Monica in the USA (3). So, we take it as a fact.
The US Embassy in Port Louis, tellingly, did not object as it usually does to any gathering, however small, near Rogers House. This is a fact. And this is where Laurette ended his demonstration.
A week before the demonstration, and this is also a fact, the US Embassy posted an article to the glory of demonstrations on its own Facebook page. And for comment, let us quote the mainstream newspaper Le Mauricien instead of commenting ourselves as Lalit. Under the title “Manifestation: Un Post FB presque transformé en invitation” (Demonstration: A Facebook Post Well-Nigh an Invitation), they said they had asked the Embassy for an explanation. Getting a lame one, they wrote, “Quelle coincidence diplomatique …” (4) The article continues: “Dans des milieux politiques, on interprète cette démarche comme une adhèsion a la revendication citoyenne qui se fait entendre presque unanimement a travers le pays”. LALIT needs to add nothing.
Bruneau Laurette is in charge of a security guard company. He describes himself as “Directeur des opérations chez Seraph Africa PMC Co Ltd.” He lists having been Head of Security at Axess Ltd for a year 2014-15 (5). These are also facts. That is his job. Any number of on-line photographs of him can be seen, posing with heavy guns in his hands.
This is also a fact.
He has a “team” that he often refers to. And, logically, he needs contracts. That is a fact for his type of work. He often works in Africa, his social media accounts announce. But with borders closed for Covid-19, he has, to continue in this line of business, to rely on local contracts of some sort. This is also a fact. As background, he has special training, he says, in marine security. On his home page, he offers services like, “Escorting vessels and planning tactical response against attack of pirates in the high risk sea.” For this, it is a fact that he relies, when there are open borders, on getting contracts from shipping companies. That should ring an alarm bell. This is an opinion.
Laurette has also worked for the Mauritian State. In particular, he worked under the notoriously repressive ex-Prison Commissioner, Vinod Appadoo.
He got to train the Carceral Emergency Rapid Team (CERT) as recently as December, 2019 (6) for which, one presumes, he got clearance from Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth. Appadoo is no longer Prison Commissioner. He is now Advisor to Prime Minister, Pravind Jugnauth. All this is factual.
One thing that Bruneau Laurette has in common with Vinod Appadoo, and this is a fact, is that both have work-links with the repressive apparatus of the Israeli state. Vinod Appadoo announced that he had used an Israeli team to investigate the problem with jamming of mobile phones in the Beau Bassin prison – a prison is a sensitive part of the state apparatus, one might think (7). In 2009, you will remember, Mauritius, under Navin Ramgoolam, was one of four countries that bravely suspended diplomatic relations with Israel over the Israeli State’s treatment of the Palestinians. Israel did not like this, it goes without saying.
One thing Vinod Appadoo and Bruneau Laurette do not have in common, and this is also factual, is one got a nomination from Pravind Jugnauth in 2020 and one did not.
Before the last elections, Bruneau Laurette had been a political agent for MSM candidate Kavi Ramano.
That was in November 2019. Ramano was elected as MP and is now Minister of the Environment. These are facts.
He, Bruneau Laurette, was at Ramano’s side, he says, when he went to difficult places. His car even got damaged during one episode, he says. He was there at two o-clock in the morning. He also escorted Joe Lesjongard and Subashnee Mahadeo, he brags. Watch the video clip of Laurette telling about it. He was at his own four-person-team press conference, held on the very night of the 29 August demonstration (8), basking in his success, when he said this:
On video clip at his Press Conference, BRUNEAU LAURETTE says:
“Pandan tu kanpayn Kavi Ramano, be kisannla ti buz avek li? Mwa.
“Zame mo’nn rod enn su. Mo loto ti’nn kraze. Mo’nn repare. Zame mo pa’nn regard enn kikenn. Dimann Kavi Ramano si mo finn pran enn su ar li.
“2-zer dimatin, kan li sorti, kan li ale dan bann plas ki bizin ale, kot bizin zwenn bann dimunn dan tu sime, kisannla ti ale? Mwa. Mwa ki ti ale. Dir li dir non?
“Dan Lasurs, kisannla ti laba? Mwa, mo ti laba.
“Be, ki ete sa? Zot ti dan Lopozisyon sa? Dir bann la vinn dinay?
“Pu Desam, lor ki foto zot inn truv avek sa, Joe Lesjongard ek Subashnee?”
Bruneau Laurette’s right-hand man Trishna Balgobin, second of the four-person team in the Press Conference, announced that he was political agent in charge of “political marketing” for none other than the present Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth in 2014 and 2019. Balgobin thus shares with Bruneau Laurette the fact that they are both ex-MSM-agents. This is a shocking bit of information, given that disaffected agents often raise the stakes in various ways when they are not suitably repaid for their voluntary services. At the Press Conference, one of the speakers, his right-hand man, even uses blackmail against both Pravind Jugnauth and his wife.
On video clip, this RIGHT-HAND MAN, TRISHNA BALGOBIN says:
“U kone dan nu lekip mem, ena espesyalis dan masinnri politik.
“Donk, sa u pu dir mwa spesyalist politik, tusala bizin poz lakestyon aster Pravind Kumar Jugnauth.
“2014, kisannla ti fer so kanpayn?
“2019, pli zoli, sok samachar. Tu dimunn panse ena bann spesyalist, andire lor terin, dimunn ki ondire inn fer li gayn eleksyon 2014, li dan pei, non! U kone, sa bann dimunn la, zot pa kapav ondire al rant dan Nimero 8, al dir vot sertin personn. Parski kifer, li prefer pran so bagaz al Dubay. Sa dimunn la, u kone kisannla? Se mwa.”
But all this, they only told everyone after the march. And since then, it has been pretty well covered up. Even well-informed people still do not know. This is why we put it all on record. (And to complete the record, the third leader at the Press conference, Corinne Lallman Sit-Yee, described herself as someone who worked, inter alia, for the church. In fact, she was one of the organizers of the visit of Pope Francis (9). The fourth, an IT expert, Sebastien Lenette owns a restaurant in Trou d’Eau Douce and not much is known about him.)
Bruneau Laurette, to invite people to the demonstration, sent out an audio clip via social media calling on people to dress in black for the demonstration of 29th, and announcing that he had hired a PR firm to be in charge of advertising the event (10) so that communication was “propre”. He also circulated his “no objection” letter from the Police. These two items were received by a LALIT member from someone close to the Church via WhatsApp.
Laurette was pumped up on a daily basis by the press, in particular L’Express, and on an hourly basis by private radios, in particular, Top FM. People noticed being flagged by Top FM on their own Facebook pages. Then all the Parliamentary Opposition Parties joined in. Present were the Labour Party, MMM and PMSD. Ashok Subron’s Rezistans ek Alternativ and José Moirt’s 100% Citoyen were already working closely with Bruneau Laurette in supporting the march via the Kolektif Konversasyon Solider (KKS) at whose assembly Laurette was present in person (11). Roshi Bhadain of Reform Party was also present at both marches.
Bruneau Laurette’s march gathered at the Cathedral.
Cardinal Piat later, in his highly politicized speech at Pere Laval that was broadcast live and then re-watched on social media, referred to the march “we” held. He said, “Sa lamars ki nu finn fer …” (our emphasis). This is a fact. He said that. This gives the entire march a communal significance.
Pere Labour, however, later said, curiously, this was “a slip of the tongue” – of someone else’s tongue. It was a slip of his superior’s tongue, he said. This rectificatif was published in the relatively small-circulation magazine, Weekly of 17 September, and taken up by no-one else to our knowledge. Anyone can make mistakes, it is true. The Cardinal also, in the same speech, further spread the rumour nurtured by Bruneau Laurette about drugs on board the Wakashio ship (12) instead of calling on people to beware of rumours, as one would expect. Pere Labour said that this, too, was not the Cardinal’s intention.
At the march, Patrick Belcourt, from the podium, called out for the tourist bosses’ irresponsible demand: “Open the borders! State the conditions!” The crowd roared (13). Jugnauth, responding afterwards, did announce his plan for opening the borders. People at the march, no doubt, had no idea that this was a demand they were plebisciting by their presence.
No sooner had the Government named former Judge Raffick Hamuth to head the Court of Investigation into the wreck of the Wakashio than Bruneau Laurette announced to the Press that he would have preferred one of two other Judges: Gerard Angoh or Eddy Balancy. Assuming he and his lawyer are not the world’s best judges of judges, there is clearly a communal innuendo. You can check on defimedia.info of 1 September, 2020.
When the next demonstration, formally organized by KKS and led by Ashok Subron, was being announced, a church group Zezi Vre Zom cancelled their event in Curepipe planned previously for the same day, thus showing again a close relationship with the Church. In reality Bruneau Laurette kept the leadership of the second march – speaking last as is custom for the leader.
Both marches were to the tune of the hegemonic slogan, “B.. li deor!” It is a shamefully violent and degrading theme-chant, with forced sodomy as its content. We appreciate that one young musician, at the beginning of the concert in Mahebourg, bravely appealed from the podium to change the slogan to, “Met li deor!” But, the genie was out of the bottle. One of the leaders actually launched the Mahebourg march with this slogan. Now, hundreds of people are left justifying the unjustifiable after it has happened. A member of one of our branches said she was alarmed at her family members coming home after the demonstration full of “koze zure”. It is difficult to justify even just the slogan “B... li deor!” However, even the slogan “Met li deor!” is difficult, once it is clear who helped to “Met li andan” in the first place: Bruneau Laurette and his team.
There is, vulgarity aside and hypocrisy aside, content to the slogans. There were two main slogans used, as if they have the same meaning when they do not. The rude one above means, “Force/violate him (Jugnauth) or it (the Government) out!” which implies that the crowd will get him/it forcibly removed. The other slogan, more humouristic, “Lev pake, ale!” means “Get up (yourself) and leave!” These are two different political aims. But, in the Bruneau Laurette petition being circulated, there is even more political confusion: you sign to call on the President to dissolve Parliament in defiance of the Constitution, to ask the Prime Minister to resign, to call for new elections and then also you implore that the Government be got rid of (14). All these four things are not the same thing. Nor do they corroborate with the title of the petition, which is “Recall Petition” or revocation petition. As a matter of pure fact, people were being asked by Bruneau Laurette to sign something that does not make sense.
And when Bruneau Laurette launched his private prosecution against Kavi Ramano and another Minister, we now know that he was an ex-agent of the same Ramano.
And when he goes to Court, the barrister that Bruneau Laurette takes is none other than former MSM Member of Parliament Sanjeev Teeluckdharry. This barrister had to resign as Deputy Speaker under a cloud only two years ago because of being named in the Commission of Enquiry into Drug Trafficking. He did not manage to get an MSM ticket in the last elections. And here is another important fact: In the Press and on radio, we notice that some people named in the Lam Shang Leen Commission of Enquiry have already been pardoned completely. Sanjeev Teeluckdharry, a barrister at that, can represent Bruneau Laurette without so much as a one-line mention after his name about the terrible “predicament” that he, Teeluckdharry, is in – even as Bruneau Laurette implicates other people in drug traffic. Teeluckdharry is not the only one. There is another barrister who benefits from this pardon. Other barristers mentioned in the Press, however, have no such pardon, and their names are invariably followed by justifiable one-line mentions.
So, it is important to know who Bruneau Laurette is.
There is no doubt that many people who attended the demonstrations participated on the basis of criticism they have against the Jugnauth regime or on the basis of their love of the environment.
It is important, however, to know who exactly is inviting one to participate in a political process like a march. The precise demands must be made loud and clear by organizers, too.
It is also important to stand up and be counted. It is important to remain calm and courageous when attacked on social media by those enforcing a kind of pensée unique in favour of Bruneau Laurette. It is a sign of their disarray.
And, all the while, the over-reaching factors to bear in mind are these:
1) The privately owned Japanese ship the Wakashio crashed into the coral reef. Anyone who removes all blame for the oil spill from the companies involved is, at best, open to questions. No matter how much Bruneau Laurette brandishes the national flag.
2) The UK-USA axis would like to oust Jugnauth because of the ICJ case and UN General Assembly humiliating defeat 116-6. This is true just as it is true that the UK-USA no doubt helped oust Ramgoolam because of his Government’s successful UNCLOS case.
3) To change the world for the better, we all need a lot of discussion, and to come to a common understanding upon a program that includes clear demands.
4) There are very important issues on which to build coherent criticism of the Jugnauth regime.
What we in LALIT oppose the Jugnauth Regime on
It is important to oppose the present regime on the basis of clear programmatic points. In LALIT, here is our proposal. We are already working towards the following changes:
* Jugnauth’s government subsidizes the lame-duck sugar cane bosses with tax-payers’ money. We must change this catastrophe-in-waiting.
* Jugnauth does not, by contrast, subsidize a proper food security plan. Seven months into the epidemic, and we could have had two harvests of food crops.
* Jugnauth supports selling off land, including arable land, for millionaires’ villas.
* Jugnauth refuses to create jobs. This could begin with job creation in new sectors like planting food, fishing and preserving food.
* Jugnauth refuses to call for closure of the US military base on Diego Garcia - the biggest polluter in the Republic of Mauritius. The UK-USA is a military occupier of part of the Republic of Mauritius and must be confronted.
* Jugnauth’s government refuses to address the housing problem, including giving no time-table even to replace asbestos housing – a health and environment issue.
* Jugnauth has not invested enough in the universal health services, in particular in capacity for contact-tracing.
* Jugnauth’s Government has delayed the introduction of Republic of Mauritius Kreol into the National Assembly. It has also continued to suppress the mother tongues in schools.
* Jugnauth relies on repression instead of on freedom.
* Police violence has continued with no new protocols introduced to expose it and then end it. Since Appadoo’s reign, the prisons have become extremely repressive.
* Jugnauth refuses even to consider our proposal to introduce Parliamentary Committees to confirm important nominations (see our proposals), and it refuses to introduce the public announcement of applicants and those nominated, and their qualifications, for future appointments so as to expose and avoid nepotism, communalism, systemic racism, or any other form of corruption.
* Jugnauth’s government continues to allow retail banks to operate while joined to investment banking, thus exposing the public to getting lured, once again, into toxic investments.
* The Jugnauth government must end all links with Israel until the end of colonization and military occupation of Palestine.
These are the issues LALIT is fighting the Jugnauth Regime on. Join us! You will need courage, we warn you! To face up to the Jugnauth regime, on the one hand, and Bruneau Laurette supporters who attack us, on the other.
(1) WeekEnd Scope 31 July 2018
(2) See Avi Nardia’s own website
(3) 5-Plus 20 August, 2020
(4) Le Mauricien, 26 August 2020
(5) See his Linked-In page
(7) Radio Plus on 25 August 2017, and denounced on LALIT site and in REVI LALIT at the time.
(8) It is on Top FM’s site. The whole one hour is worth watching.
(9) “D’ailleurs, elle affirme qu’entre avril et octobre 2019, elle a eu l’immense opportunité de faire la coordination nationale pour la visite du pape François à Maurice entre les sous-comités du gouvernement, les sous-comités du diocèse de Port-Louis et le Vatican’ L’Express, 5 September, 2020 – report published one week after the press conference.
(10) We have kept copies of these.
(11) Top FM, Aug 22, 2020 “On écoute Ashok Subron… Précisons que Bruneau Laurette était présent à ce rassemblement du Kolektif Koversasyon Solider.”
(12) Teleplus, 8 September, 2020
(13) We have the video-recording, should you want to hear it.