Despite acknowledged African support, PNCR left out of planning – Corbin
Opposition Leader Robert Corbin yesterday stated that the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) as a major political Party in Guyana with acknowledged African support was never formally invited to participate in the planning of the programme for the International Year for People of African Descent.
He stated that the ruling People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has sought to exercise control to engineer the outcome.
Corbin also cited what he called the shocking report of the planned State launching of this event, stating that in his opinion the intention is to “place the main oppressor of African Guyanese over the past nineteen years to dominate to the extent that, no prominent African Guyanese who holds different views from that of the ruling party would appear on the opening programme at which President (Bharrat) Jagdeo was scheduled to make the feature presentation.”
The opposition leader also reiterated a pronouncement that his party had made, that the first action by the Administration was to exclude all legitimate organizations representing African Guyanese from formal representation on their so called National Committee.
“Instead, that party has sought to manipulate individuals of African descent to give the false impression that Guyanese of African descent are fully involved in the programme…In a garbled response, the Chairman of the “so-called” National Committee, failed to address the issues raised by the PNCR and sought to confuse the public by outlining meetings held, listing the names of participants of African descent and placing the name of the Organisation to which he presumed they were members, next to their names.”
According to Corbin, the response confirms the PNCR’s assertions, since the statement failed to refer to any initiative to invite the acknowledged organisations of African Guyanese to participate in the planning of the programme.
“The fact that the statement claimed not to know of the existence of the All African Guyanese Council further exposes the farce of involvement…Accusing the PNCR of engaging in the instigation of public distrust and public mischief, the Statement then proceeded to implore the PNCR to get involved.”
He said that significantly, the statement claimed that, “Government had signaled that the door is still open to the PNCR”, confirming that the door was presumably closed before the PNCR’s statement.”
Corbin said that the statement also failed to address the content of the statement made by twelve authentic African organizations, one of which represents sixteen groups, which categorically stated their non-involvement and expressed displeasure at the process used by the government to create its programme of observance.
“They also called for the postponement of any launching programme until a mutually agreed upon National UN Year for People of African Descent programme is established…One would have expected that any responsible and concerned committee would have positively addressed these concerns and sought to meet urgently with this group rather than engage in futile exchanges.”
Corbin emphasized that his party does not propose to engage in exchanges which are intended to distract from the essential issue, saying that his party is more concerned that the year’s programme fulfills the mandate of the United Nations in every respect.
Regional Chairman Clement Corlette who was also at the media briefing, reminded those present that in December 2009, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 2011 as the International Year for People of African Descent.
He said that in so doing the UN stated that, “The Year aims at strengthening national actions and regional and international cooperation for the benefit of people of African descent in relation to their full enjoyment of economic, cultural, social, civil and political rights, their participation and integration in all political, economic, social and cultural aspects of society, and the promotion of a greater knowledge of and respect for their diverse heritage and culture.”
The mandate of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, established by the Commission on Human Rights was subsequently expanded.
The expansion included the need to study the problems of racial discrimination faced by people of African descent living in the Diaspora and, to that end, gather all relevant information from Governments, non-governmental organizations and other relevant sources, including through the holding of public meetings with them; To propose measures to ensure full and effective access to the justice system by people of African descent; To submit recommendations on the design, implementation and enforcement of effective measures to eliminate racial profiling of people of African descent; To make proposals on the elimination of racial discrimination against Africans and people of African descent in all parts of the world; To address all the issues concerning the well-being of Africans and people of African descent contained in the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action and to elaborate short-, medium- and long-term proposals for the elimination of racial discrimination against people of African descent, bearing in mind the need for close collaboration with international and development institutions and the specialized agencies of the United Nations system to promote the human rights of people of African descent.
These objectives, Corlette said, would be accomplished through improving the human rights situation of people of African descent by devoting special attention to their needs through, inter alia, the preparation of specific programmes of action; Designing special projects, in collaboration with people of African descent, to support their initiatives at the community level and to facilitate the exchange of information and technical know-how between these populations and experts in these areas; Liaising with financial and developmental institutional and operational programmes and specialized agencies of the United Nations, with a view to contribute to the development programmes intended for people of African descent by allocating additional investments to health systems, education, housing, electricity, drinking water and environmental control measures and promoting equal opportunities in employment, as well as other affirmative or positive measures and strategies within the human rights framework.
He said that it should be obvious to all, therefore, that the year 2011 is not one for token celebrations, but an opportunity to address serious issues affecting the African Diaspora.
Corlette stressed that the PNCR expects that the national programme would include tangible actions to address the many concerns of the African dominated communities, which have been the subject of discussion for many years.
Corbin then added that the programme for the International Year for People of African Descent is not just for a song and dance at the National Cultural Centre.
He noted that so far the actions of the PPP/C regime have clearly demonstrated that it is seeking to use the Year for People of African Descent for political and electioneering purposes, rather than in the interest of the people for whom the year has been dedicated.