BRIDGETOWN, Barbados — A leading clergyman yesterday blasted his fellow Barbadians for remaining largely silent about what he described as the “distressing reputation” the country is bearing over accusations of racial and nationality discrimination against citizens of other Caricom nations.
In a passionate sermon yesterday at The People’s Cathedral, Bishop Gerry Seale, general secretary of the Evangelical Association of the Caribbean (EAC), also urged religious denominations and non-government organisations to strongly condemn wrongs that, he said, were “sinful” to ignore.
The white Barbados-born clergyman’s sermon was focused on spiritual renewal and social responsibility.
In challenging Barbadians to “do what’s right” in the interest of rescuing the proud reputation of Barbados as a decent, civilised nation of the Caribbean, Seale made specific references to what he denounced as “immoral and unspiritual ethnic and nationality discrimination” that have affected Guyanese and Jamaicans in the main, but which has also been extended to other non-nationals of Caricom.
Bishop Seale’s sermon, which drew occasional sustained applause from worshippers, was based on St Paul’s ministry on “the centre of Christian life” as preached to the Colossians.
Just back from meetings in Dominica and, more recently Guyana, the EAC general secretary and chief executive officer was one of nine members of a National Reconciliation Committee (NAR) appointed more than a decade ago by the previous Barbados Labour Party Government to consider and report on allegations of ethnic hostilities between some white and black Barbadians.
The NAR was headed by the Caribbean historian Sir Keith Hunte, a former principal of the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill campus. Its report has been lying in cold storage since being tabled in Parliament, even before a change in government in 2008 to the current Democratic Labour Party.
Yesterday, Bishop Seale was passionate in declaring that “this nonsense of discrimination against Caricom nationals must stop”. He also urged Barbadians to tell their elected parliamentarians that if they did not start “moving for change” then they, as voters, would have to change them.
He told the congregation that he had received information that some Barbadian Immigration and Customs officers were contributing to the discrimination against Caricom nationals by “abusing their functions” on the assumption that they were carrying out policies consistent with that of the Government.
He was loud in his call for “the removal from their employment”, any Immigration or Customs officer found guilty, on independent investigation, of discriminating against Caricom nationals based on ethnic and nationality factors, and when such nationals had done no wrong against Barbados and its people.