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Guard our harmony

Saturday, May 31 2014

Trinidad and Tobago must guard against the horrors that can befall a nation because of bigotry and intolerance, President Anthony Carmona has warned in his Indian Arrival Day message.

Carmona, a former judge, spoke of the genocide that occurred in Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and the cases stemming from these atrocities he would have known of as a former United Nations prosecutor at the Hague.

“I have had the unforgettable experience of being exposed to the horror that can result from intolerance and bigotry combined with ignorance and blinded aggression rooted in ethnic and religious differences both in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda,” Carmona said in his statement on Thursday.

“Our forte as a nation is grounded in our harmonious and peaceful diversity and our racial and religious tolerance. We must therefore continue to guard this jealously,” he said.

His message comes as police investigate claims of racist acts by persons carrying anti- Government placards as part of a march by trade unions and the Opposition in Port-of-Spain on May 23. Government and the Opposition have denied placing persons with the racist messages in the demonstration.

The President, in his message of tolerance, also spoke of his upbringing in south Trinidad saying he has always “held a very close relationship with persons in my community and by extension the East Indian community.” His experience has taught him that equality is a right of all persons.

“That relationship, very personal in many regards, has not swayed my fundamental belief in equality and just and fair treatment for all persons. In fact, I have been taught that fundamental and philosophy of life by many persons including gurus of Indian ancestry,” he said.

He emphasised the messages reflected in the Nation Anthem, “Forged from the Love of Liberty” and national watchwords “Discipline, Production and Tolerance”, “particularly “Tolerance” that speaks directly and positively to the harmony and appreciation of our religious and ethnical diversity.”

He celebrated the achievements of the East Indian community, noting their beginnings as indentured labourers in the sugar industry to leading roles in fields of medicine, law, engineering, entrepreneurial business, politics, culture, religion and sports.

“This has redounded to real benefits to our country, the Caribbean region and the world at large,” he said.

He further noted, “the Indian diaspora in Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean represents a vital and unrivalled thrust in world culture, education and politics. Against a background of extreme adversities, our Indian brothers and sisters have persevered and demonstrated that hard work, sacrifice and belief in God can trigger great rewards.”

“The progressive response of the Trinidad and Tobago diaspora meshing other cultures with their art, music, cuisine and customs, have provided a fundamental platform for us being regarded as a rainbow nation.”

The President extended best wishes to the East Indian community and the nation on behalf of his family: wife Reema, son Christian and daughter Anura.

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