Home / View Point / Letters to the Editor / Dear editor: ‘Cockroaches’ slur should be hate crime, penalised by jail—like in UK and Dominica

Dear editor: ‘Cockroaches’ slur should be hate crime, penalised by jail—like in UK and Dominica

“[…] The word ‘cockroaches’ was used by both the Nazis and those behind the genocide in Rwanda in 1999.

“[…] Such language used by Ms Ramsaran cannot fall ‘under the guise of freedom of expression’. It feeds a vicious cycle of unrestrained intolerance and incitement to hatred by race…”

The following Letter to the Editor on ex-Ramsaran’s Dairy Products employee Naila Ramsaran’s description of PNM supporters as ‘cockroaches’ was submitted to Wired868 by Ula Nathai-Lutchman, an international criminal lawyer in the UK:

Photo: A mass grave site in Rwanda for Hutus killed during the 1999 genocide.

Ms Naila Ramsaran’s use of the dehumanising word ‘cockroaches’ to describe PNM supporters is reminiscent of anti-Semitic Nazi propaganda.

The word ‘cockroaches’ was used by both the Nazis and those behind the genocide in Rwanda in 1999. The Nazi media described people their masters wanted to eliminate as cockroaches.

The Rwanda radio station RTML incited Hutus against the Tutsi minority, repeatedly describing the latter as ‘cockroaches’—resulting in their genocidal mass slaughter of about one million over the course of 100 days in 1994.

Such language used by Ms Ramsaran cannot fall ‘under the guise of freedom of expression’. It feeds a vicious cycle of unrestrained intolerance and incitement to hatred by race.

It is time for the first piece of major legislation to respect the inviolable dignity of the human person and by extension curbing incitement to hatred by race. I urge the government to take urgent steps to legislate to eliminate this increasingly racial hatred trajectory.

Photo: A racially tinged Facebook post by Naila Ramsaran on 11 August 2020.

In the neighbouring Commonwealth of Dominica for example, it is an offence to incite racial hatred when someone says or does something which is threatening, abusive or insulting on grounds of colour, race or ethnic or national origins and the person either intends to stir up racial hatred or makes it likely that racial hatred will be stirred up (The Nationality and Racial Offences Act, section 6). The offence carries a prison sentence.

Similarly, in the UK, any use of derogatory language towards ethnicity, race carries a penalty of imprisonment.

Furthermore, it is extraordinary and deeply shameful to see the nasty underbelly of racism and such open race-baiting that characterised the recent election.

For general election candidates and supporters, be brave enough to speak out but be aware of the dangers which lurk in the depths of your vocabulary.

History has shown us time and time again where talk of cockroaches can lead and the dangers of demonising ethnic groups by dehumanisation—from the millions of people killed during Nazi persecution and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur.

Photo: Late Nazi leader, Adolf Hitler, often referred to Jews as ‘rats’.

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3 comments

  1. Who was Gary Griffith referring to when he used the term cockroaches?

    • Earl Best

      Not the PNM, not politicians, not parliamentarians, the 1%, not the people in Westmoorings, not the People’s Partnership.

      And since cockroach eh have no right before fowl, as the old people say, it cyar be the people who does flock to the popular chicken outlets neither.

      Poor me. I try but I give up.

  2. To me that entire comment about putting contraceptives in water and cockroaches show she might as well believe in eugenics!