The associations Justice and Muvman Liberasyon Fam (MLF) jointly launched two booklets on the occasion of Human Rights Day in the Zardin konpayni kiosk, Port Louis on Thursday 8 December.
The first booklet: "A Brief Analysis of the Medical Evidence in the Case of the Death in Police Custody of the Musician, Kaya" is based on the speech made by Dr Ram Seegobin when he was invited to speak in a joint Justice-MLF gathering for Human Rights Day in December 2003. The analysis shows that the medical evidence given by every single doctor who examined the body or body tissue of Mr. Reginald Topize (Kaya) points to an unnatural and violent death. The only doctor who disagreed was Dr. White who never examined Kaya's body or body tissue. Brought in from the UK by Mr. Shattock during the Judicial Enquiry on Kaya's death, all he examined was a badly translated and incomplete version of the counter-autopsy report of Dr Ramstein.
Muvman Liberasyon Fam has submitted this analysis of the medical evidence to Minister of Justice Rama Valayden for the Truth Commission on Kaya's Death being set up.
The second booklet is entitled "Law Keepers and Hypocrites - The Injustice of Kaya's Death". Originally written as an article in May 1999 by Jean-Claude Bibi after Kaya's death and the mass revolt of February, it shows how there was a build-up in which influential and powerful people incited police to arrest Kaya. Jean-Claude Bibi sent the article to several newspapers at the time. It was never published.
Martine Desmarais who presided the event, introduced the members of both associations present: Jean-Claude Bibi, Veronique Topize, Roland Boussac, Jerry Cadine, Alain Ah-Vee and herself, present for Justice, and Marlene Joseph, Rajni Lallah, Lindsey Collen, and Pushpa Lallah for Muvman Liberasyon Fam. She explained that this event was being held in the context of Human Rights Day. There were two speakers: Alain Ah-Vee and Rajni Lallah to present each booklet to the public and to the press.
The event drew many people present in Zardin Konpayni, who stayed until the speakers had finished and by the end, the first edition of the booklets were all gone.
The press, including L'Express, Le Mauricien, Le Matinal, MBC TV, was largely present. Yet, excepting some radio stations and Le Dimanche (who was not present in the launch), there was no mention of this event in the press.
Lalit asked Alain Ah-Vee, who spoke for Justice and Rajni Lallah, who spoke for Muvman Liberasyon Fam for a copy of their launch speech to put up on our website.
Rajni Lallah speaks of "Law Keepers and Hypocrites - The Injustice of Kaya's Death"
"I would like to present one of the booklets being launched today. It is written by Justice member Jean-Claude Bibi, and was initially written in the form of an article in May 1999. The title of it is a compelling one. It is called "Law Keepers and Hypocrites - The Injustice of Kaya's death". This article was written after Kaya's death and after the mass revolts that ensued. It talks about something important - not only to understand the events that led up to Kaya's death, but has a special meaning in today's context.
"What is this booklet about? It speaks to us about the build-up to Kaya's arrest. We all remember how Kaya had sung in a concert on the 16th of February, 1999. Yet he was not arrested during the concert. In cases where people are arrested for smoking gandya, they are arrested by police on the spot and the gandya confiscated and submitted for forensic analysis as proof. How else would anyone know that the person arrested had gandya on him, or had smoked it? This person could have smoked anything. Kaya could have smoked anything. Yet he was not arrested when he allegedly smoked it. He wasn't even arrested the same day. He was arrested two days later, on the 18th February, 1999. And was found dead in his Alcatraz cell with 32 wounds on his body three days later.
"The booklet written by Jean Claude Bibi explains how there was a build-up to Kaya's arrest: a build-up in which influential and powerful people actually incited police to arrest him. This was how Kaya was arrested, two days after he had supposedly smoked gandya in a music concert. Jean-Claude Bibi describes this build-up in very precise detail.
"This booklet has renewed significance for what is happening today. Today, there are still some influential and powerful people who are quick to demand repression as a so-called solution for all kinds of problems. Whatever societal problems" more and more people victims of drugs, rape, robbery. They still clamour for the authorities to "trape, ferme, bate" ("stop them, imprison them, beat them up"). They still clamour for macho-style repression.
"Sometimes they clamour for Repression without even a thought for the victim involved. We in Muvman Liberasyon Fam have gone through this experience. Everyone now recognises the violence and trauma of rape. In Muvman Liberasyon Fam, for some years now, we have been campaigning for each major hospital to have a Rape Crisis Unit where women victims of rape can be given medical and psychological treatment, preventive treatment for STD's including AIDS, and can give their statement to the police in a caring atmosphere, far from the macho atmosphere of the police station. You would have thought it that naturally, people who care for victims of rape would have supported such a demand, would have helped us to ensure that every major hospital has an operational rape crisis unit. Yet, many people who supposedly care for victims of rape are more interested in "trape, ferme, bate" - in perpetrating even more macho violence.
"The explosive situation in the prisons also serve as a reminder to us all that repression creates even more terrible problems, problems for everyone, than it supposedly solves.
"It is an illusion to believe that there are some people who are permanently "bad" and some who are permanently "good" and that all we have to do is to isolate the "bad" people from the "good" ones. Things do not work that way.
"Fortunately, there are increasingly many who have realised the problem, and are calling for a halt to repression. Members of PILS, activists of the Idrice Goomany Centre, those campaigning for "remiz de penn pu bonn kondwit" (prison sentence remission for good conduct).
"You might ask yourself, what does Muvman Liberasyon Fam have do to do with this issue? It is because women are the peace-keepers of society. We peace-keep in the household, in our neighbourhood, and our presence in public spaces has the effect of reducing conflict. We, as women, know that repression brings on more problems than it solves. We, as women know that it is only when people are Free that there can be peace. Only Freedom can bring about rational and negotiated solutions.
"This is why when we, in Muvman Liberasyon Fam, re-read Jean-Claude Bibi's excellent article, we thought that it is absolutely spot-on for today's context. And with Justice, we decided to co-publish it for you to be able to read.
"We salute Jean-Claude Bibi for having drawn our attention to an important lesson: it is positively dangerous to clamour for repression. His article at the same time exposes the hypocrisy of those who clamoured for it in February 1999.
"We all remember that when Kaya was found dead with over 30 wounds on his body in Alcatraz, his death provoked a mass revolt. This just goes to show that Human Rights is no empty slogan. It shows that people in Mauritius have a shared understanding of what Human Rights means and should mean.
"As we mark Human Rights Day here today, I would like to end with a quotation from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, proclaimed on the 10th December, 1948:
" ... Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law.' "
(English transcription of the original Kreol language speech)