Government has expressed concern over the arrest of nine men by the Surinamese military late last month.
The villagers, from Orealla/Siparuta area claimed that they were fishing in the Corentyne River area on January 22, when they were detained by officials of the neighbouring country and taken 30 miles up-river to Apoera.
They were processed and released and forced to paddle for hours to get back home.
Expressing alarm yesterday, the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs said that on Friday, January 22 it received reports that nine residents of Orealla/Siparuta were arrested and taken into custody by Suriname’s military.
The men’s names were given as Armaan Edwards, Genovese Davair, Alistair Peneux, George Edwards, Ackley Felix, Bob Peneux, Rodrick Herman, Edward Herman and Clifton Edwards.
The Ministry said that the men were engaged in subsistence fishing in the Corentyne River at the time.
“They were using hooks and lines and were in small boats and canoes. Subsistence fishing is part of our Indigenous peoples’ culture which has been practised for centuries. In the Amerindian Village of Orealla/Siparuta, subsistence fishing forms a part of the village life and economy. The Corentyne River is the sole source of fresh fish for the village.”
The matter was immediately reported to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where it is being investigated.
“In the meanwhile, the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs engaged the Toshao of Orealla/Siparuta, Mr. David Henry, and some of the affected fishermen.
In the process, Vice President, Sydney Allicock, was properly briefed on the issue. Mr. Allicock who is also the Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs continue to engage the Toshao and remains in close contact with Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge.”
The Corentyne River has been a source of contention between Guyana and Suriname for decades before a UN ruling settled the matter in 2007, allowing a stalled oil exploration by this country to continue.
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