Astaphan’s comments, as do Douglas’, stem from happenings at the St. Kitts Nevis Labour Party’s (SKNLP) 79th Annual Convention which was held at the Marriott on 15th May, 2011.
During the event, a resolution was passed which, according to the understanding of some, was meant to have Deputy Leader of the SKNLP Sam Condor and Chairman of the SKNLP Dr. Timothy Harris, disassociate themselves from Astaphan and his platform.
Dr. Douglas, however, has indicated that the resolution – which was moved by Labour’s Constituency No. 8 representative, Cedric Roy Liburd – suggested not such thing but rather, called for the men to disassociate themselves from comments which were made.
Dr. Douglas expressed that his party understands and respects the fundamental right of freedom of association. This media house understands, however, that when the resolution was moved, both Condor and Harris refused to comply with the resolution and Condor referred to it as “out of place and disrespectful”.
Weighing in on the issue, Astaphan expressed his view that rights and freedoms must be respected, adding that Condor’s and Harris’ freedom of expression was infringed.
“He is speaking about freedom of association and I think that is just a play on words. Because he is saying that the resolution did not seek to curb Mr. Condor’s and Dr. Harris’ rights to associate with whomever they wanted to associate with. But there is something called freedom of expression and your freedom to express your views is the same freedom not to say anything, not to respond to people. You have that right, that’s a fundamental right that is in your Constitution.
“But further to that, every organisation, if it wants to be democratic and humane, must allow for different views and different perspectives to contend. That is the corner stone of democracy. And any organisation that seeks to muzzle people and to tell them what ideas to associate with and what ideas not to associate with, is not an organisation that can boast of being democratic. Usually such organizations are very very totalitarian and led by somebody or by a cabal who want absolutely no dissention, no questioning, because their primary interest is their own self-preservation and their dominion over others, not democracy. And that is what makes that resolution so out of order and outrageous. He is just playing with words. Everybody knows what the intention is. That is why it caused such a stir at the convention and he had to pull it back…”
Mr. Astaphan also expressed that the St. Kitts Nevis Labour Party, in its current form, is not one that promotes or is based on democracy.
“How on earth could it be wrong for somebody to belong to an organisation and have differences of opinion with the leader or even question the organisation’s policies? That’s the fundamental of democracy. Wanting people to shut up and to say they agree to everything is not democracy. This is not the Labour Party of Bradshaw, Manchester, France, Challenger and these people. This is not a democracy here. This is – if you will – a principality, – if you will – the property of one man. This is not a democratic organisation at all. Totally out of order.”