The Day UK Government Killed Democracy and Revived Colonialism
Yes, today is the day, 20 July 2011, the UK parliament passed a constitution order through parliament enacting a new constitution for Turks and Caicos Islands. What makes this date significant is that after two years of maneuvering power away from the people of Turks and Caicos Islands, the UK has finally sealed the deal in a constitution it passed without a referendum and against the wishes of the people. The new constitution settles any question that the UK was there to recolonizing Turks and Caicos, instead of help with corruption as was repeatedly stated.
In August 2009, the UK government, through the Foreign Commonwealth Office, announced that it would take over the islands’ government in an effort to investigate possible corruption. The investigation team led by Helen Garlick, of BAE (in)fame, has been installed in the islands for two years. Though the former premier’s assets have been frozen worldwide - except $5,000 toward his legal defence - no corruption proof has come to light nor have any trials been set.
But what was supposed to be an investigation into corruption of a few past government ministers, has turned into a circus leaving an entire people without democracy or human rights. Instead of setting up an investigation, the UK immediately took the Turks and Caicos government from the people by force, without a vote. Major resorts in the islands were forced to close due to UK’s “suspicion of corruption”, this deeply hurt the islands’ economy, jobs and investor confidence. Many islanders were fired from their government jobs whose positions were replaced by UK appointed persons. Immediately, the treasury was controlled by the UK, thus the Turks and Caicos Islanders had no control over the money, revenue or vote on spending. The money just vanished without an accounting, the UK said it was forced to give a huge loan to the islands for the depleted funds. Yet, the loan money is used for all UK-related expenses in Turks and Caicos and did not go toward any government programmes or to the debts of the islands yet must be paid back by the people. The UK provides no aide to the islanders now suffering the loss of jobs and the economy. Even without a government of their own for two years, the UK has not given the islanders UK citizenship benefits which programmes would alleviate some financial suffering.
What happened to the UK helping to manage corruption in Turks and Caicos? That certainly has not happened. The UK’s presence in Turks and Caicos looks like a means to retake the islands for the Crown in a colonial cover up.
Last week, Overseas Territory minister Henry Bellingham visited the islands to announce that elections would again be “delayed”, as has been the case for two years. This is one of many “delay” announcements in the last two years, broken promises that look like a way to stall to implement a bigger idea. Bellingham having told the people that the “milestones” set out by the UK had not been met, there would be no return to elected government. The result is prolonged exposure to living in an undemocratic society run by a foreign power against the islanders’ will. The “milestones” argument is one of great contention as the islanders have no way to meet the milestones as they have no vote thus no power in any governance. Meeting milestones is out of the control of the islanders.
After his visit, Bellingham also announced that the new UK constitution for Turks and Caicos would be “ … laid before Parliament on 20 July.” However, the new constitution was not created or voted by the islanders. The new constitution replaces the Turks and Caicos 2006 constitution and its function will take democracy and self determination from the islanders, giving the UK complete control and power over all government decisions.
Little has been said in the media about this human rights crisis. Henry Bellingham makes appearances and statements about working with the people of the Turks and Caicos to bring good governance. Yet, the UK is not working with anyone in the islands and they are far from bringing good governance. The UK has done much to avoid the question of Turks and Caicos democracy, self determination and the peoples’ right to elected government.
The UK has hurt the freedoms of the islanders, hurt the economy by scaring away investors, taken unaccounted for money from the treasury and continuously lied and broken promises to the people about restoring democracy, just to have a UK constitution kill any hope of a democratically elected government by the people.
This is a sad day for Turks and Caicos and for democracy. For any person who says that colonialism is past history, just look at what is happening in Turks and Caicos. Not even the United Nations has been able to stop the UK colonial actions, though it has tried numerous times.
Tags: Turks , Caicos , British , United Nations , Colonialism , Democracy , Elections , Overseas Territories , Human Rights , Constitution
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