Indigenous Ministry discredits NTC Chairman

DPI, Guyana, Thursday, April 12, 2018

Contrary to claims by Chairman of National Toshao’s Council Joel Fredericks, that ‘the NTC nor its Vice Chairman, Lennox Shuman called for a mass protest against the government,’ the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs has provided the Department of Public Information (DPI) with evidence that confirms the council did indeed issue a call for protest against the government, if their demands are not met.

Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Sydney Allicock.

In a statement yesterday, the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs called out the executives of National Toshoas Council (NTC) for divisive, disingenuous and sometimes incoherent statements, especially by the Council’s Vice Chairman, Lennox Shuman.

The statement said that “The NTC is on record as having written to His Excellency President Granger on certain matters.  Much of these writings are confrontational, demanding and disrespectful to the Office of President of Guyana.  Simultaneous with calls for meetings with His Excellency President David Granger, Lennox Shuman, Vice Chairman of the NTC issued a call for mass public protest against the Government of Guyana by our Indigenous Citizenry. The Ministry will allow the Guyanese public to judge Shuman’s intentions”, the release stated.

In today’s Stabroek News, Fredericks denied the claims of a mass protest against the government, however, the document clearly shows that he (Fredericks) signed the said document which stated that “If the government does not commit to implementing change for our peoples, we are asking all our peoples to gather in Georgetown for a mass protest.” The letter was sent out to all the Toshaos.

It must also be noted that this alleged ‘mass protest’ will be funded by the government subvention, since the NTC has no other known source of revenue. This very subvention of $16M, which the council failed to account for, for the past three years.

The statement explained that the “This executive of the NTC is nearing the end of its three-year term in office and is yet to explain to its membership and the Ministry why it continues to resist the legislative obligation of accounting for the finances placed at its disposal. It is a statutory obligation of the NTC’s Executive Committee to prepare and present ‘Annual Reports’ of its financial operations, a requirement which it has never satisfied.”

The Amerindian Act of 2006 clearly specifies that annual financial report must be tabled at the National Toshaos Council.

Further, the ministry has received complaints by villagers of St. Cuthbert’s Mission (Pakuri), who recounted disrespectful and inhumane treatment under Shuman’s leadership. These range from threats of dispossessing them of lands for disobeying him to referring to residents as “refugees” as well as forcibly expelling church leaders from the Village.

The Ministry says such actions are ill-advised, divisive, counterproductive and inimical to the forward progression of the national Indigenous Peoples’ developmental agenda.

The Ministry has rejected the Shuman-led attack against Guyana’s Indigenous peoples and has said the upcoming Village elections will provide a vehicle for the resolution of all of these issues by the people themselves.

 

By: Synieka Thorne

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