Dec 07, 2021 Letters
Kaieteur News – Please permit me a few lines to share my views on the Marudi Mountain issue and Indigenous Rights.
In the supposedly “re-invented” PPP post 2020 elections, it was my sincere belief that the PPP was a transformed organisation and that they were open to dialogue on issues surrounding Indigenous peoples. I can say with absolute conviction, nothing is further from the truth. The PPP Government did not facilitate meaningful dialogue with Indigenous Peoples on the Marudi Mountain gold mining agreements. The agreements should be rescinded and returned to the table for discussions to ensure that they are in compliance with Indigenous Peoples’ Rights at their core.
Understanding the variety of issues and the impact of mining on Indigenous Peoples, I offered my services sincerely, wholeheartedly and apolitically to the Government – the PPP Administration, in assisting to resolve these and many other issues that continuously plague Indigenous Peoples. That offer was initially taken up by Minister of Natural Resources, Hon. Vickram Bharrat. I attended “one” meeting with the Minister and a team from the South Rupununi District Council (SRDC) and one meeting with the Minister and the Toshao of Chenapau to address mining in the Kaieteur area. I have not been invited to another meeting since on any issue(s) surrounding Indigenous Peoples. I now see the reasons for and the outcome of such omissions.
It is my informed view that the Government of Guyana under the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has zero inclination to meaningfully consult the Indigenous Peoples on any matter. It is also my informed view that they intend to throw money at the problems the Indigenous Peoples face instead of genuinely trying to find comprehensive solutions to addressing them. By addressing the issues comprehensively, it empowers Indigenous Peoples which poses a problem to the PPP and that is far removed from the MO and intent of the PPP.
Take for example the Law Reform Commission, which was passed in Parliament earlier this year. In its first draft, in terse, the first draft stated that the Commission will enjoy the input of Constitutional Commissions. I objected to the AG on the grounds that Indigenous Peoples are not represented simply because the Indigenous Peoples Commission (IPC) is there. The IPC also has non-indigenous entities on it, and I recommended that the National Toshaos Council (NTC) be the body to nominate a candidate to represent Indigenous Peoples. After five months of back and forth, my recommendation was finally taken on and the law was passed with the amendment that the NTC will nominate a candidate.
Upon completion of their process, the NTC nominated a candidate who, from an Indigenous Peoples perspective, is eminently qualified for that and many other positions relating to Indigenous Peoples. When the nomination was made to the AG’s office, the candidate was removed from the list and replaced by another more pliable candidate of non-Indigenous persuasion. I enquired from the AG as to the reasons for this to which he responded that the NTC’s nominee was always fighting with the PPP and he suggested I take it up with the President. I anticipate the President is much like David Granger in terms of deferring meetings and respecting the constitution. I await that meeting.
Indigenous Peoples have consistently asked for one thing from the Government of Guyana – “to respect our rights’ which are tied to the singular conditionality upon Guyana achieving independence – rightful control over the lands and territories we have traditionally owned. Until such, it matters not which administration preaches a mantra of ONE GUYANA, SOCIAL COHESION or whatever new slogan will be championed, the two sides of the coin will continue to show us their freshly polished brass in vague light trying to pass off as newly minted gold.
In consideration of the continuous trampling of our rights, the multitude of constitutional infringement on our rights, and a lack of access to justice, it is clear that Indigenous Peoples are living in a dystopia. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples contains forty-six Articles of which forty-five are based on our rights and signed on by member states in relation to respecting our rights. The UNCERD, IAHCR and a variety of other international organisations have scolded the Government of Guyana (both PPP and APNU/AFC) in their shortcomings in relation to Indigenous Peoples and the Government of Guyana has taken a calloused approach to addressing the fundamental issues.
Indigenous Peoples are not against mining. We are explicitly and unapologetically set against our rights being trampled upon. We have lived here for time immemorial and account for the least international migration as compared to our costal sisters and brothers. Where the coast looks at our lands as places to make money and enrich themselves, we look at our lands as places to make a life, raise our families and to protecting our future. Our forest, rivers and farms are our neighbourhoods, grocery stores, pharmacies, and oxygen banks.
I support the SRDC and the Wapichana Nation of the South Rupununi and call on the Government of Guyana to rescind the mining agreements and return to the table for discussions.
This would be a clear indication of the value the PPP Administration places on Indigenous Peoples and their intent on being one that respects the Constitution and the rule of law.
Lenox R. O. Shuman
Deputy Speaker: MP
Jan 19, 2022Kaieteur News – It was announced yesterday at a press conference at the National Racquet Centre on Woolford Avenue, Georgetown, that six Guyanese will be among the 529 athletes from 60...
Jan 19, 2022
Jan 19, 2022
Jan 19, 2022
Jan 19, 2022
Jan 18, 2022
Freddie kissoon column Wednesday, January 19, 2022 Kaieteur News – I said to my wife in the kitchen last week that... more
Kaieteur News – How does one lift the level of discourse about historical revisionism without resorting to attacks... more
By Sir Ronald Sanders Kaieteur News – By 2030, it is more than likely that the eight independent Commonwealth Caribbean... more
Freedom of speech is our core value at Kaieteur News. If the letter/e-mail you sent was not published, and you believe that its contents were not libellous, let us know, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]