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Hundreds sign petition defending Prof. Bain

NATASHA BECKLES, [email protected]

Hundreds sign petition defending Prof. Bain

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — In a dramatic show of support for former CHART Director, Professor Brendan Bain, more than 550 people across Jamaica have signed an online petition delivered directly to the email inbox of Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies (UWI) Professor E Nigel Harris, in only a few hours.
The signatures, according to a release by the Citizen Stakeholders, were also sent to the Principal of the UWI Mona Campus, Professor Archibald McDonald, and the President of the West Indies Group of University Teachers (WIGUT) Anthony Perry.
The petition was launched Wednesday night by a diverse group of citizen stakeholders who are primarily UWI lecturers, students, scientists, medical doctors, ordinary citizens, and other interested parties “who are deeply concerned about the dismissal of Professor Bain. While they differ in their religious, moral, or political beliefs, they all agree that the dismissal was wrong in principle.
The petition reportedly demands an immediate public apology from the Vice Chancellor over the “unjust dismissal of Professor Bain”, who is a retired UWI professor and world renowned expert on the research, treatment, and public policy related to HIV/AIDS “with an unblemished career of over 25 years”.
Professor Bain was dismissed by the Vice Chancellor as head of CHART after pressure from certain interest groups following his submission of an Expert Report to the Belizean High Court.
The petitioners reportedly join several non-aligned professional groups, including the Medical Association of Jamaica and the Human Resource Management Authority of Jamaica who have expressed deep concern and disapproval over the dismissal.
They list five main reasons, further elaborated in the petition itself:
1) Professor Bain did nothing wrong;
2) There are no legitimate reasons to lose confidence in his leadership;
3.) The dismissal limits our access to empirical scientific research and information;
4) The dismissal prevents medical experts and research professionals from freely carrying out their mandates; and
5) I believe that you failed in your duty to uphold justice and act in the broader interests of the public.
The Citizen Stakeholders, through their petition letters are telling the Vice Chancellor that they believe “that empirical scientific research and confident researchers are too important in the fight against HIV/AIDS for them to be threatened and dismissed because of the political ideologies of a few interest groups”.
Meanwhile, the group also denounced the firing as wrong since no objective reasons were given, and that the Vice Chancellor ignored the fact that Professor Bain made no legal recommendations, and should have been bold enough to tell special interest groups who inferred that he did so, that they are wrong. They also expressed concern for the future of the UWI, stating that they are “not confident after the unfair dismissal that UWI will remain a centre for open and objective scientific research”.
In addition to an apology, the Citizen Stakeholders demand that the Vice Chancellor address 14 points of clarification, including clarifying “whether Citizen Stakeholders and governments should expect that the public policy suggestions by the UWI and/or CHART will be based on empirical scientific research or based on the political ideologies of certain interest groups”.
The release said that Vice Chancellor has not yet replied. (Observer)