Statement by the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs.
The Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs notes with consternation, reports in certain sections of the media as it relates to the National Toshaos’ Council’s purported position on the Presidential Commission of Inquiry on Lands. Specifically, the Ministry notes the reported call for His Excellency President Granger to: “Revoke land COI immediately or feel the squeeze come 2020.” (Demerara Waves 04.05.2017)
It is unfortunate that, an insignificant minority of agents of the National Toshaos’ Council (NTC) have allowed themselves to become instruments of partisan political purpose. Equally unfortunate is the use of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (COI) on Lands as a whipping boy on the agenda of a larger political force.
The Ministry calls upon the NTC chairman Mr Joel Fredericks to prove that the Government is: “…violating the Amerindian Act and the “…United Nations’ Conventions that speak to the treatment of indigenous peoples” through the establishment of the COI on lands. If Mr Fredericks cannot do so by providing documentary or other compelling evidence, he must immediately withdraw this unfounded statement and apologise to His Excellency President Granger under whose hand the said COI was established using the relevant provisions of law.
Similarly, Mr Shuman owes the Nation an unqualified apology for his veiled attempt to himself incite racial tensions on a national scale using the COI as his chosen tool.
The Ministry rejects out of hand these outrageous and grossly misleading utterances by the two most senior members of the NTC. The Ministry condemns in the strongest terms, any irresponsible statement which seeks to divide the Nation along ethnic or other lines. The Government of Guyana has made it clear that, national unity is pivotal to Nation building. It is for this reason that His Excellency the President has sought, through the COI, to address the issue of lands in a holistic way. It is appalling, therefore, that there are still among us, individuals who will continue to seek out opportunities to foster disunity.
It is most interesting that Mr Shuman prefaces his suggestion that: “…the NTC is apolitical in nature…” by making five profound political statements. He issues threats to the Administration and intimates his intention to seek sanctions against government by international organisations for a legitimate action taken by the President of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana. He concludes by issuing another threat to the effect that: “then they will feel the effects come 2020.”
This type of vulgar, self-serving, political and narrow minded posturing by persons who were elected to serve the indigenous peoples of Guyana speaks to a departure from the mandate given them by those who reposed trust and confidence in them as leaders. These two gentlemen must now come clean and choose between service to the indigenous peoples of Guyana and their personal political egos.
It is a known fact that, the NTC and Toshaos have unfettered access to all Government ministers, particularly the two ministers of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs. This access has been utilised to good effect since this Administration’s accession to office and continues to produce excellent results. Departure from the available channels of communication in the extant situation, calls into question the sincerity of the NTC’s two leading personalities who appear to be on a frolic of their own.
The Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs shares an excellent relationship with the indigenous peoples and leaders of the indigenous peoples of Guyana, particularly Toshaos and the Executive of the NTC. The Ministry looks forward to the deepening of relations with the Indigenous peoples’ of Guyana and continues to work in their best interest in conformity with National Laws and international obligations. The Ministry believes in unity of the peoples of this great country of ours and urges all Guyanese to embrace each other in unity.
The Ministry also takes this opportunity to encourage all Guyanese, especially the indigenous peoples’, to take their land cases before the COI.
Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs,
04th May, 2017.