PPP calls out Ministers of Indigenous Affairs for silence on arrests at Kaieteur National Park
The People’s Progressive Party on Friday (June 02, 2017), has called out Ministers of Indigenous Affairs, Sydney Allicock and Gorrido Lowe for their silence on the recent arrest, detention, and the institution of criminal charges against over twenty (20) Amerindians and villagers of Chenapou.
20 persons ranging from the age of 17 to 56 years old who were arrested last Sunday (May 28, 2017) for allegedly conducting illegal mining activities within the boundaries of the Kaieteur National Park were on Tuesday (May 30, 2017) released from custody.
In a statement to the Press, the PPP noted that the silence of the two Ministers on this matter is both “deafening and disappointing.” It further speculated that the Ministers either lack a voice in the Government or have “abandoned the Amerindians.”
The PPP noted that while it does not condone illegality and recognize the importance of preserving and protecting Kaieteur National Park and its environ, “we demand the application of a more humane approach and one that recognizes the rule of law and due process, as well as, one that respects the constitutional and human rights of our people.”
The Opposition says many of the persons who were arrested have claimed that they were in no manner mining, or engaged in any form of unlawful conduct “but yet were herded, arrested and brought to Georgetown against their will, where they were callously abandoned and left to find their way back to Region 8 at their own expenses.”
The party went on to state that “If this is how the Granger administration intends to start implementing its Green State Development Strategy and commitments to the Paris Agreement, it is a bad start, as it undermines the very principle of people and forests and tramples on the rights of indigenous peoples.”
It also pointed out that it was under the PPP that the Protected Areas was established along with the Amerindian Act.
The Government on Friday stated that it will not be pursuing charges against the persons arrested “as an act of good faith.”
The accused (names provided) were arrested by members of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) along with the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) and the Protected Areas Commission (PAC) after 20 illegal mining camps were discovered through aerial reconnaissance.
Those arrested are not owners of the dredges discovered.
The government said its decision to not pursue charges emanated from a meeting with Toshao of Chenapou, Edward McGarrell, and some members of the community of Chenapau in Region 8, Potaro-Siparuni, together with representatives of the National Toshaos’ Council (NTC) and the Amerindian Peoples Association (APA).