Dr. Ronan Matthew is adding his voice to the call for a commission of inquiry into the Antigua Airways debacle and the resultant migrant-smuggling scandal that has overtaken this country since 17 West Africans were lost at sea last week.
Further, in his appearance on Observer Radio on Sunday, April 2, the retired educator boldly named and shamed several prominent persons and organisations for failing to take up the issue and call for justice.
“It is my belief that non-governmental organisations should also step up and support the call for a public enquiry,” Dr. Matthew says. “For example, I think it would be most worthwhile if the Chamber of Commerce released a statement indicating their support… [and] the Antigua Bar Association should also do the same.”
However, Matthew is particularly critical of the silence of the Antigua Reparations Support Commission – known to be an advocate for compensation from the developed nations for African chattel slavery.
“How can you be in full support of reparations for the crime of slavery and not be in support of finding out what caused our government to be involved in the crime of human-trafficking of our brothers and sisters from West Africa?” Dr. Matthew asks.
He singles out the leader of the group, Ambassador Dorbrene O’Marde, noting that while he is “loquacious on many topics,” his silence on this particular issue is loud.
Looking at academia next, Matthew takes to task Dr. Hilary Beckles of the University of The West Indies – another reparationist of Caribbean renown – “who is also deafeningly silent,” he says.
In contrast, he is critical of what he sees as Sir Hilary’s willingness to be caught up, otherwise, in local politics, and – on account of his purported involvement in the appropriation of the Five Islands Secondary School – brands the professor “an opportunist.”
Peter Wickham, whom Dr. Matthew describes as “the self-proclaimed political pollster and analyst who is frequently on our airwaves spouting nonsense,” also comes in for scathing criticism.
“Has he said anything about our government’s involvement in human-trafficking?” Matthew asks. “If he has, I have not heard him. But I did hear him berate a fellow Bajan in a political ad for the ALP after his countryman had criticized our government over the human-trafficking issue,” Matthew alleges.
Not sparing anyone in his sweep of condemnation, Dr. Matthew then points the finger at Ambassador to the United States Sir Ron Sanders, a prolific writer in local newspapers.
“My question, Ron Sanders … do you consider our government’s involvement in human-trafficking of our brothers and sisters from West Africa as showing respect for democratic principles and values? Please answer,” he encourages.
“Where is your editorial on this pressing issue of human trafficking?” an aggrieved Matthew concludes.