Dec 04, 2022 News
…vows to continue support to Indigenous communities
Kaieteur News – The Amerindian Peoples Association (APA) on Saturday said that it will continue to support Chinese Landing, Isseneru and the Upper Mazaruni communities as well as those close to the Marudi Mountain in their respective land issues.
With specific reference to the issues at Chinese Landing, the APA in a press release urged the Government to “end its inexcusable pattern of inaction towards Chinese Landing under its statutory function and prior commitments.”
The Association at its recently concluded Annual General Meeting (AGM) adopted several resolutions acknowledging the need for the recognition, protection, and advancement of Indigenous Peoples’ rights in Guyana.
“The APA is aware that the health, safety, freedom, and quality of life of the community of Chinese Landing continue to deteriorate rapidly, and exhorts the National Toshao’s Council (NTC) to urge the Government to end its inexcusable pattern of inaction towards Chinese Landing under its statutory function and prior commitments,” the release said.
In July, Kaieteur News reported that the failure of authorities to control miners moving into the titled lands of Indigenous persons living in the Region One community of Chinese Landing, has morphed into a dire situation with threats now being made against residents and leaders of the community.
Toshao Orin Fernandes, told the Kaieteur News the villagers now feel “helpless,” being unable to get the intervention of authorities to prevent the continued invasion of their lands for the purpose of mining.
Fernandes said that over the past seven years, the community has continuously highlighted the influx of unauthorized persons into the village, but within the last three years, these movements have intensified.
To date, it is estimated that hundreds of “outsiders” have now moved into the titled space of the Chinese Landing community, despite provisions within the Amerindian Act, stipulating the exclusive right of village leaders to determine who gets permission to enter the community.
On Saturday, the APA said that it will support Chinese Landing’s legal claims that its rights under the Constitution of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana have been violated.
Meanwhile, expressed dissatisfaction with Government’s response to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in the case of Isseneru Village, especially in its discrimination against Indigenous peoples by prioritizing mining interests.
“The APA will continue to support Isseneru to secure its collective rights over its customary lands,” the press release said.
The Association said it also supports the communities of the Upper Mazaruni in urging the court to deliver its long-overdue judgment and the Wapichan communities of the South Rupununi in opposing illegal mining in the Marudi Mountain area and their traditional lands broadly. These lands are the subject of extension of title applications by the Wapichan communities.
Additionally, concerning the Government’s pursuit of development priorities under the Low-Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) 2030, “the APA expresses disappointment in the Government’s failure to adequately inform Indigenous communities of the implications of the LCDS 2030 before its passage in the National Assembly.”
Notwithstanding, the APA said it will support more community capacity-building programmes and continue to follow the LCDS implementation process closely.
Further, the APA said that it will advance the call from Indigenous communities throughout Guyana to ensure the Government fulfils its promises to revise the Amerindian Act to ensure effective protection of the rights of Indigenous Peoples in Guyana.
“The organisation will support communities in building their capacity to articulate proposed revisions to the Amerindian Act, including by making lawyers available to answer community questions and to strengthen community understanding of the law and rights of Indigenous Peoples,” the press release said as the Association called on the Government to respect the right of Indigenous peoples to free, prior, and informed consent in the revision process.
Meanwhile, the AGM saw members of the Executive Committee, several regional and unit representatives, staff and other invitees gathering in Georgetown from November 17-18, 2022. Other Unit Representatives from Regions 1, 2, 7, 8, and 9 participated virtually.
At the AGM, office bearers were elected to serve on the Committee of Management and the full Executive Committee of the organization who will serve for the 2022/2023 period.
The members of the Committee of Management are President – Lemmel Benson Thomas of Kamarang, Region 7; Vice-President – Junisha Johnny of St. Ignatius, Region 9; Secretary – David Wilson of Akawini, Region 2; Treasurer – Earl Thomas of Wakapau, Region 2; Assistant Secretary – John Campbell of Little Kanabali/Santa Cruz, Region 1; Assistant Treasurer – Reynold Hutson of Hotoquai, Region 1, and Trustees – Raymond Coxall and Dmitri Nicholson, both of Georgetown.
Other committee members include Youth Representative Kemal Robinson of Kato, Region 8; Women’s Representative Alma Marshall of Kamarang, Region 7; Regional representatives – Region 1 Genevieve Vansluytman, (Moruca), Roxanne Skeete (Mabaruma), Shakira Phillips (Matarkai); Region 2 Rick Thomas (Pomeroon), Harold Marslow (Essequibo); Region 7- James Chambers (Upper Mazaruni), Ronald Joseph (Middle Mazaruni), Ramadhin Ruddy (Upper Cuyuni): Region 8 – Charles Peters (North Pakaraimas), Edward McGarrell (Potaro); Region 9 – Eliane Domingo (Central Rupununi), Ronald Ignatius, (South Central Rupununi), James Davis (South Pakaraimas) and Edgar Casimero (Deep South Rupununi.)
Members of the organisation also approved the Annual Report and Financial Statement for 2021, heard of the Association’s activities in 2022, and approved its work plan for 2023.
This AGM is a critical component of the APA’s efforts to promote and maintain organisational transparency and accountability and allows the fulfillment of obligations as a registered organisation under the Friendly Societies Act.
The APA said that this AGM was made possible with the support of Nia Tero, Strengthening the Capacity of Indigenous Organizations in the Amazon (SCIOA) and the International Land and Tenure Facility.
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