Turks and Caicos leaders speak against British rule

The Turks and Caicos Weekly News reports on last week’s demonstrations against continued direct British rule. Here are some excerpts, with a link to the full text below.
With banners flying high and patriotism pervading the air, leaders from both sides of the political fence joined forces in a never-before-seen show of unity to demand the immediate return to self-rule. Monday’s momentous demonstration – dubbed the “greatest march for freedom” – saw more than a thousand Islanders take to the streets of Providenciales with one voice. And the message was clear – Britain has overstayed its welcome at this pivotal moment in the country’s history.

. . .
PDM leader Doug Parnell – who originally called for the ‘unity march’ – said it was essential that the country’s laws reflect the wishes of the people. He said the new constitution must protect the rights of indigenous TC Islanders. “It must also give us the right to choose our representatives through a legal and fair process; this is a fundamental democratic right. We must be allowed to guide the creation or modification of our own constitution and our election process.” Mr Parnell said the current political upheaval was due to decisions not of the majority’s choosing. “Decisions made by a few of our own people and by others in England who in the past ignored us and who chose to decide our fate without adequate consultation.” And he lambasted a “lack of transparency” displayed by British policy makers.

. . .
PNP leader, and former Premier, Galmo Williams said TC Islanders were entitled to run their country through democratically held elections. A major bone of contention among citizens is the appointment of a foreign consultant to form and lead the electoral reform committee. “We must reject non Turks and Caicos Islanders carrying out the constitutional review,” Mr Williams said. “We must reject the notion of abolishing the current electoral system. There is no time to engage PDM against PNP and PNP against PDM. Now is the time to rise up as one people against the injustice to our nation by the British and others. We need to send the message loudly and clearly … that the people of these Turks and Caicos Islands are united and are dejected on how we are being treated and mistreated and marginalised in our home land.”
. . .
Long-standing PDM member Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson – and a member of the Governor’s consultative forum – quoted Jags McCartney from a speech the country’s first Chief Minister made in May 1979. “We must come together if only for survival because while we war against each other, there are foreign interests that are coming in and benefiting from our division.”

. . .
The demonstration earned support from Bahamian politicians this week. The Progressive Liberal Party – which condemned the British takeover from the outset – issued a statement praised the coming together of politicians from both sides. “We view the joint march as a positive development in the development of Turks and Caicos democracy. We applaud the fact that the two parties are now working together,” it read. “We urge the British to restore democratic rule to the Turks and Caicos and to resist any move that would weaken the ability of the native peoples of the Turks and Caicos to run their own affairs.”
At a PDM press conference on Thursday, Mr Parnell described the march as a “huge success” which had surpassed expectations. “I would like to say a very big thank you to people for showing up and coming together, putting their differences aside for a day to support a common cause. There were thousands of people there and the British Government needs to know that their handling of the situation in the TCI is not acceptable. One great success of the unity march is that the people of the TCI had reason to have hope again. They saw not only their former leaders but their future ones also to look to for leadership.”
For the full report go to http://www.tcweeklynews.com/default.asp?sourceid=&smenu=1&twindow=Default&mad=No&sdetail=1941&wpage=&skeyword=&sidate=&ccat=&ccatm=&restate=&restatus=&reoption=&retype=&repmin=&repmax=&rebed=&rebath=&subname=&pform=&sc=2404&hn=tcweeklynews&he=.com

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