As Barbados celebrated Emancipation Day yesterday, a Pan-Africanist warned his countrymen not to be fooled into thinking that the fundamental rights garnered over the centuries cannot be eroded.
Dr Deryck Murray, director for the Centre of Hybrid Studies, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, said that the recent overturning of Roe vs Wade case in the United States should serve as a sharp reminder that even rights cast in stone for decades can be taken away when the people fail in their responsibility to be vigilant.
Speaking to the media at a Freedom Walk in Speightstown, St Peter, as the August 1 holiday was marked yesterday due to Grand Kadooment being held on Monday, Murray said the potential for rights to be encroached upon has been manifested in Barbados in recent times.
“We have the illusion that progress is irreversible and that once we have made gains, they are there forever. If you look around you would see how easy it is to reverse the gains. If you look at the United States you would see that they are now fighting for something that they thought was progress in the form of abortion rights.
“This was taken away completely and they now have to fight for that right all over again. We are aware that the price of freedom is ongoing vigilance. We must have ongoing demonstrations to people who may think of reversing your gains, reminding them that we are still here and we are still pressing for our freedoms,” he said.
Murray noted that the emergency powers exercised by Government during the COVID-19 pandemic were one recent example of how the state could curtail the rights of its citizens. He noted that while Government exercised its powers for legitimate reasons on this occasion, he questioned what was in place to prevent a ruling administration from using these same powers for less sincere reasons. (CLM)