Mar 04, 2013 News
“We know who the ranks are. I told the Commander that I want an investigation and that we will take action. I can’t let this go down the drain…” – Commissioner Brumell
Commissioner of Police Leroy Brumell has ordered an immediate investigation into the beating of civilians by policemen at Marudi and vowed that action will be taken against the ranks who have already been identified.
“I have ordered the Commander of F Division conduct an inquiry. I want a proper investigation. I can’t let that go down the drain,” a clearly upset Brumell told Kaieteur News yesterday.
“We know who the ranks are. They are coming out tomorrow (today). I told the Commander that I want an investigation and that we will take action, I can assure you.”
Brumell was particularly concerned about reports that a child was among those assaulted.
The incident occurred on Saturday when police ranks accompanied officials from the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) to clear several illegal miners from the Marudi mining district.
A photograph published in the Sunday Kaieteur News edition showed a police corporal inflicting blows on civilians who were lying on the trail to protest their removal. A woman and her sons were reportedly among those beaten.
An even more graphic video, posted on YouTube, shows the cursing policemen clubbing and dragging the civilians, while some of their colleagues, and other men in plainclothes, stood with guns at the ready.
Most of the blows were inflicted by a police corporal, who repeatedly shouted “get off the f—ing road” while raining blows on the civilians.
One rank is seen going into the bushes to cut and strip a branch and then using it to whip civilians. It also shows a woman and boy lying on the trail. Civilians who used their bodies to cover the boy were dragged and beaten.
The civilians are part of a group of miners who are protesting what they are calling their unlawful removal from a mining claim that is registered to a Canadian mining concern, Romanex Guyana Explorations Limited.
About 300 local miners have been operating about 22 dredges in the area for the past 10 years when the Canadian firm appeared to have neglected it.
Reports out of the area stated that a police unit arrived at Lethem from the city last Thursday to accompany a local representative of the Canadian company along with GGMC officials to enforce the removal of the local miners.
When the police along with the officials were heading to the main mining district, they were met by protestors who stood their ground preventing them from proceeding.
Verona Prince, whose husband is one of the miners, then sat in the trail along with her 11-year old son in protest to the intended actions of the police and other mining officials.
A police rank who appeared to be the team leader then proceeded to beat them to get them to remove, although the woman explained that she was a peaceful protestor.
Eyewitnesses said that when the policeman continued his beating, the woman’s 22-year old son jumped in to protect his mother and he received similar treatment and was also punched and kicked.
The beating was so severe that the woman and her two sons had to be treated at the Aishalton Hospital for injuries.
The police eventually escorted the team to the mining district where they warned miners to pack up and leave.
However, the miners remain adamant that they are awaiting word from President Donald Ramotar who had met with them on February 9 last and had promised to look into the matter with a view to settling it amicably.
Miners of that Region Nine area have been locked in a battle with Romanex for a number of years now, with the matter even engaging the attention of the court.
However, most of the miners have admitted that they have been operating illegally on some of the lands under the Romanex licence.
According to one spokesman for operators in the area, Sugreem Singh, of the Rupununi Miners’ Association, President Donald Ramotar met with miners about two weeks ago to discuss the Marudi Mountain issue.
“Yes, the persons are raiding. Some of them have been living in Marudi for 20 to 30 years. We have been asking for land. Romanex has lands and since the ‘90s has been doing nothing with them. We are asking for lands and help. There were supposed to, under the exploration licence, give up sections of the land back to the state regularly. This has not been done.”
Already, a petition with more than 200 names affixed has been sent to the government over the Romanex situation.
Both the local representative of Romanex and the senior GGMC official who were in the area yesterday declined to speak to a correspondent from this newspaper who had traveled to the contentious district to observe what was taking place.
Only last week the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment issued a statement indicating that it was reviewing the licence of Romanex Guyana Explorations Limited, after investigations revealed that the company failed to carry out exploratory works in keeping with its requirements.
According to a release from the Ministry, Romanex was granted a licence to mine at Marudi Mountains, Region Nine, since April 17, 2009.
A site visit by officials of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), an arm of the Ministry, found no activity.
“A site visit revealed no mining or exploration on behalf of the company was ongoing, while the company had earlier committed to carrying out exploration activities within the early part of 2013. However, it is evident that no work is expected to commence on the property in the near future as no mining plan has been submitted.”
GGMC said that an investigation of illegal mining in the Marudi area was as a result of the recent Operation El Dorado.
The Marudi Mountain Mining Licence was granted to Romanex Guyana Exploration Ltd. on April 17, 2009, after the company had held a Prospecting Licence (large scale) from 1990 to 2009 over 55 square kilometres.
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