Senator Brown was making his contribution in the Upper House yesterday, which passed legislation to absolve certain national heroes from criminal liability in specified events.
In his contribution to the debate, Opposition Senator Lambert Brown contended that the bill was deficient as it failed to condemn the British government for their repressive actions.
He urged his colleagues to insert in the proposed law that the country's freedom fighters did no wrong and, therefore, should not be labelled as criminals.
Brown said it should be made clear in the bill that Jamaica's national heroes were fighters for freedom who exercising their inalienable rights to stand against repression.
On the question of absolution for the country's freedom fighters, Brown said that Jamaica's national heroes had already been absolved by Jamaicans in their songs and poetry.
"They adore them, they respect them, they revere them, they are our heroes," declared the Opposition Senator.
Brown read into the records of Parliament a moving letter from National Hero George William Gordon to his wife, which was written moments before he was due to be hanged, which outlined his innocence of the charges brought against him by the colonialists.
The letter read: "I do not deserve this sentence for I never advised or took part in any insurrection; all I ever did was to recommend the people who complain to seek redress in a legitimate way, and if in this, I erred, or have been misrepresented, I don't think I deserve this extreme sentence.
"Please to say to all my friends an affectionate farewell and that they must not grieve for me, for I die innocently."
In a rare moment of unanimity, Leader of Government Business in the Senate Kamina Johnson Smith sought time from the president of the Senate, Tom Tavares Finson, to craft an amendment to satisfy the Opposition Senator's concern.
The preamble of the legislation which was passed with five amendments, was adjusted to state: "And whereas the laws enforced during those times were unjust and oppressive and resulted in the acts of those persons being labelled as criminal acts; and whereas the national heroes and freedom fighters exercised their inalienable rights to resist such unjust laws and oppression."
Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Olivia Grange, who piloted the Bill in the House of Representatives, and who was on hand to see the bill go through the Senate, said it aimed to absolve National Heroes, the Right Excellent Sam Sharpe, the Right Excellent George William Gordon, the Right Excellent Paul Bogle, and the Right Excellent Marcus Garvey as well as their supporters, sympathisers and participants by association, and other freedom fighters, from criminal liability arising from their participation in “acts of liberation with moral justification.”
- Countries: Jamaica