Reference is made to a letter captioned, “Vieira responds to the ERC” written by Mr. Anthony Vieira (Kaieteur News 22-02-11).
The Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) does not usually get involved in a public debate with the likes of Mr. Vieira or any of his colleagues, but in the interest of disseminating accurate and factual information the Commission is forced to respond.
To begin with, Mr. Vieira’s letter contains a barrage of inaccuracies aimed at misleading the Guyanese populace and to discredit the work of the ERC, but the masses of Guyanese from all 10 administrative regions, who have participated, benefitted and supported the initiatives of the ERC, will not be fooled by this propaganda campaign.
Mr. Vieira in his letter said that, “the ERC is not properly in place since the Leader of the Opposition has not agreed to Juan Edghill continuing as Chairman of this sensitive and important body”. How hilarious, deceptive and wicked!
For public knowledge, the Leader of the Opposition has no role whatsoever in approving or determining the Chairmanship of the ERC. He has no veto power, his agreement is not required, and neither does the President.
The Constitution of Guyana requires that the Parliament by a vote of no less than two-thirds of the National Assembly shall agree on the entities to be consulted in the various constituencies, those entities vote or name their Commissioners and it is the seven Commissioners so named by those entities who vote for the Chairmanship.
The Constitution of Guyana Article 212 B section (1) (a) and (b) states and I quote, “the Ethnic Relations Commission shall consist of no less than five nor more than 15 members nominated by entities, by a consensual mechanism determined by the National Assembly, including entities, representative of religious bodies, the labour movement, the private business sector, youth and women after the entities are determined by the votes not less than two-thirds of all elected members of the National Assembly.”
With regard to the nomination of sitting members from other Rights Commissions on the ERC, the Constitution states in section (1) (b), “a member who shall be a nominee, without the right to vote, chosen by and from each of the following Commissions to be established under this Constitution, Indigenous Peoples’ Commission, Women and Gender Equality Commission, Commission for the Rights of the Child and Human Rights Commission”.
Important to note, the Constitution of Guyana also states the following, “the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of the Ethnic Relations Commission shall be elected by and from the members of the Commission, other than the members mentioned in paragraph (1) (b), using such consensual mechanism as the Commission deems fit”.
Referring specifically to Mr. Vieira’s peddling of misinformation, the people of Guyana should read and be the judge for themselves since the whole report of which he claims to be quoting “ERC information” can be found on the ERC’s website; www.ethnicrealtions.org.gy and Mr. Vieira should not be pulling out selective passages distorting the truth and misplacing the context.
Mr. Vieira quoted figures with regard the status of African Guyanese in the public sector who he said are not holding senior positions because they are being marginalised and discriminated.
Mr. Vieira, speak the whole truth! Afro-Guyanese have exited the public Service for the following reasons as the research have shown.
(a) Higher employment benefits in the Private Sector – is this discrimination Mr. Vieira?
(b) Attaining the Age of retirement and finding employment in the Private Sector – is this ethnic discrimination Mr. Vieira?
(c) Migration – as far as we know Guyanese of all ethnicity have been migrating.
Mr. Vieira’s letter should be seen as a part of a wider propaganda machinery to discredit the ERC to facilitate aims and objectives best known to him and his colleagues. It is quite obvious that he is against the ERC hosting Media Encounter 2011, an activity aimed at sensitising journalists and reporters on how to effectively report before, during and after elections without infusing ethnic conflict of which they can be sanctioned under the Representation of the People Act and the Racial Hostility Act, both documents of which I assume Mr. Vieira is familiar with since he is a former Member of the National Assembly.
It is quite noticeable the effort Mr. Vieira is putting into doing everything he can even using mis-information, half truths and blatant lies to derail this process but I wish to remind him and all his associates, critics that the ERC remains committed to fulfilling its constitutional mandate even in the face of criticisms coming from the likes of Mr. Anthony Vieira.
One Amerindian leader told the ERC in Aishalton that this season is called “Mango Season”, Guyanese are wise and they are able to judge and to even identify the subtle messages aimed at causing conflicts in the letters, articles and political comments of Mr. Vieira and his colleagues. The jury is out Mr. Vieira – stop the lies!
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