Dec 06, 2023 News
Kaieteur News – The North Pakaraimas District Council (NPDC) said it is disappointed with the Government’s continued attempts to derail their quarterly statutory meetings.
The NPDC represents the interests of Indigenous Peoples in the North Pakaraimas and performs the functions outlined in Section 36 of the Amerindian Act.
In a statement the council said its member villages include Chenapau, Chiung Mouth, Itabac, Kaibarupai, Kamana, Kanapang, Karisparu, Kato, Kurukubaru, Kopinang, Paramakatoi, Monkey Mountain, Taruka, Tuseneng and Waipaalong with the satellite villages of Sandhill, Catch Cow, Red Creek, Wailang, Arasawa, Penak, Bash Ville, Bamboo Creek, Chiung Mouth and Maikwak.
NPDC’s statutory meetings are held quarterly and require weeks, sometimes months of planning coupled with a significant investment of financial resources to provide a space for collective discussion and decision-making among our people, the council said. “Unfortunately, it seems as though the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs and by extension the Government of Guyana is keen on derailing our meetings. The Ministry of Amerindian Affairs, under the leadership of Minister Pauline Sukhai, has on at least three occasions instructed indigenous leaders not to attend our meetings or disrupted them by scheduling government meetings or outreaches at the same time and directing leaders to attend,” the NPDC said. “This behaviour has been blatant and has made it difficult for us to gather and collectively discuss and find solutions to the issues that affect us daily. Our brothers and sisters from Chenapau are facing land conflicts which significantly hinder their livelihood, a situation that is not unique to Chenapau alone.”
“However, we are unable to collectively discuss and advocate on their behalf due to the continued attempts to derail our meetings. Our most recent meeting was scheduled for November 21 to 23, 2023 in Chenapau Village, however, efforts to divert the Toshaos to attend a clearly unplanned ministerial outreach and distribution exercise in Kurukubaru began just days before our Toshaos were expected to travel to Chenapau. We later learnt that our leaders were lambasted for their interest in attending the NPDC meeting by the Minister who accused the NPDC of being controlled by the Amerindian Peoples Association (APA).We wish to reiterate that while we receive support from the APA and other international organisations, the NPDC is an independent representative of the North Pakaraimas communities, and its people, and our goal is to provide a space for our voices to be heard.”
Further, the NPDC said the continued practice of calling meetings with insufficient notice and pressuring its leaders to attend is a clear and direct violation of their right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) as our leaders are the last to be consulted, if at all, on our availability to attend such meetings.” We also find it ironic that the minister in her utterances to our leaders and other representatives, refers to the North Pakaraimas District Council as being “illegal” considering we have met all the requirements to be gazetted and are currently awaiting final approval from the Minister herself.”
The NPDC said, instead of supporting Indigenous Peoples’ right to gather and advocate for our rights, the minister and by extension, the government “continues to stifle our efforts. Despite the challenges we are encountering, our priority remains to work in the best interest of our people. We urge the Minister and the Government to respect our right to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) and self-determination. We want to emphasize too that the NPDC is still open and willing to collaborate with the Government to promote the well-being of our people,” the statement concluded.
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