Possible solutions flow as ERC opens national discussion on ethnic relations
Guyana’s Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC), in a bid to address the country’s long-standing issues surrounding race and ethnic relations, on Monday opened a national discussion on the factors that impede ethnic harmony.
The two-day virtual discussion includes a panel of diverse Guyanese from differing political, religious, and cultural background, but also extends participation to scores of Guyanese who are interested in making their contribution.
The discussion opened amid high hopes that at the end of the frank conversation, solutions to addressing Guyana’s ethnic divide will be found. It is supported by the Office of the United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator in Guyana and the University of Guyana (UG).
Several panelists and participants in their recommendations under the theme: “How can we improve ethnic relations in Guyana?” urged constitutional reform to be among the practical fixes to the issue.
The ERC is expected to collect all recommendations made and put them into a formal document to be submitted to the National Assembly and relevant stakeholders for consideration and implementation.
Those making presentations and welcomed the move to hold a national conversation on the issue of race relations were UG Vice-Chancellor, Dr Paloma Mohammed-Martin; Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Lenox Shuman; Professor David Hinds; activist Ravi Dev, as well as Public Relations Expert, Christopher ‘Kit’ Nascimento and Consultant Renata Chuck-a-Sang.
While recalling some of Guyana’s worse moments of racial divide, several of the panelists made a strong call for constitutional reform to address the racial inequalities but more importantly, panelists have called on Guyanese to hold their leaders accountable.
Many persons recalled the recent five-month protracted elections period and said the need for ethnicity harmony is urgent and should be addressed forthwith.
Making a strong case for the collection of data on race and ethnicity, was renowned attorney-at-law, Nigel Hughes.
Hughes said it was critical before the commencement of any rational discussion on equal opportunity that the relevant information on race is made available.
He said collecting, analyzing, and publishing data on the economic, social, and political indicators on race and ethnicity must be forthcoming.
Monday’s conversation also saw the participation of persons living in Guyana and abroad, asking questions and making suggestions for addressing the issue.
The ERC hopes that these varying points of view of the presenters and participants can serve in some measure, as a blueprint for possible solutions on the related challenges that confront Guyanese of all ethnicities.
A youth session will be held at 18:00h Monday and includes Elsie Harry, Vishani Ragobeer, Daniel Seeram, Kian Jabour and Derwayne Wills.