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Govt. submits report on alleged abuse of Amerindians to Human Rights body – Jagdeo

Govt. submits report on alleged abuse of Amerindians to Human Rights body – Jagdeo

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CHINESE LANDING FALLOUT…

Kaieteur News – The government has submitted its findings on the allegations of abuse of Amerindians at Chinese Landing, Barama River, Region One, to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), Vice President, Bharrat Jagdeo told reporters at a press conference on Thursday.

Vice President, Bharrat Jagdeo

Vice President, Bharrat Jagdeo

“…I have spoken to Minister Gail Teixeira, (Minister of Parliamentary Affairs) and the report has been completed and it has been sent to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights”, The VP said.  Jagdeo did not reveal the contents of the report and findings but promised that they will be made public as soon as possible.

The Government had sent in a “fact finding team” to Chinese Landing on August 6 last, following the issuance of Resolution 41/2023 by IACHR. Its purpose was to investigate claims of human rights abuse against Indigenous people that live there, by large-scale miners, specifically Mr. M.V, the legal holder of mining licences for their titled lands.

According to the Commission, the Carib community which has approximately 210 residents is currently at serious risk of suffering irreparable harm to their human rights by miners and even some members of the Guyana Police Force. Details of those risks were outlined in a petition to the international body which was filed by the Chinese Landing Village Council, the Amerindian Peoples Association of Guyana (APA), and the Forest Peoples Programme.

The IACHR had also requested that the government implement a number measures to protect the Indigenous people from harm. Those requests are; for the government to take the necessary measures to protect the rights to life and personal integrity of the members of the Indigenous Carib Community of Chinese Landing with a cultural, gender-based, and age-appropriate perspective to prevent threats, harassment, and other acts of violence against them, to consult and agree upon the measures to be adopted with the people of Chinese Landing and their representatives and to report on the actions taken to investigate the events that led to the adaptation of this precautionary measure, so as to prevent such events from reoccurring.

However, the fact-finding team had made it clear during their visit to the community that its sole purpose was only to implement the third measure. That is to investigate claims of human rights abuse. As part of its investigation, the team led by the government’s Member of Parliament, Alistair Charlie, took blood, urine, and hair samples from some 46 households in the village to test for mercury poisoning.

It is believed that the miners have polluted the waterways and this has severely affected the health of residents. Toshao Orin Fernandes has already tested positive for mercury poisoning, according to the IACHR Resolution. Statements were also taken from villagers regarding the alleged collusion between police ranks and the miners’; threats to their lives and terrorizing of them for the disputed lands. Water samples were also taken to test for possible mercury contamination.

It should be noted that while Government is focusing more on the claims of pollution and harassment, the Chinese Landing residents had made it clear that they want Mr. M.V mining licences for their titled lands to be revoked.

Two Indigenous boys searching for fish in water, possibly contaminated with mercury.

Two Indigenous boys searching for fish in water, possibly contaminated with mercury.

According to them, the titled lands is one of their main sources of income and giving it away to large-scale miners is like taking their daily bread.  Since the alleged illegal takeover of their lands by the miners, the residents are unable to access to key hunting grounds and pork-knocking for gold. This has plunged their community into an economic crisis with many being unable to send their children to school, feed themselves and provide for the basic needs of their family.

Many of the residents were in tears as they related their suffering to the fact-finding team and demanded the return of their lands. While the team’s report is yet to be made public, VP Jagdeo said at previous press conferences that his government is not addressing the cries of the Indigenous people for the return of their livelihood, only the complaints of harassment and pollution. At a more recent press conference on August 31, the VP went a step further to say that his government has already solved the problem at Chinese Landing.

According to him, solving the problem is not allowing anyone to mine including the Indigenous people who accustomed to panning and pork-knocking for a few pennyweights of gold to sustain themselves. “It seems as though now what the Toshao (Orin Fernandes) is saying allow only us to mine but shut down the others but that is not what they argued. Because mining wherever it is done could be causing the pollution so that is where we are now, we have cured the breach that went before the commission”, Jagdeo had said.