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National Toshaos Council calls for Kaieteur National Park mining charges to be dropped

A former Toshao of Chenapau points out the areas where the residents have traditionally worked and which lie beyond the boundaries of the Kaieteur National Park. He also showed the Minister that these areas are only accessible using trails that go through those lands. (Laura George photo)

Hours after a brief meeting between the Toshao of Chenapau and the Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman on the vexed question of mining in the Kaieteur National Park, the National Toshaos Council Thursday night called on President David Granger to withdraw the charges.

“We also call on His Excellency to have all charges dropped and to work with the Indigenous Peoples to finding solutions to these and other problems affecting the Indigenous Peoples of Guyana as he had promised,” the NTC said in a statement.

More than 20 miners, who were arrested Sunday for allegedly mining in the Kaieteur National Park, have since been released from police custody and charged with mining in that protected area. They have to appear at the Mahdia Magistrates’ Court to answer the charges that have been leveled under Guyana’s Mining Act.  They deny that their mining operations are within the Park.

Earlier Thursday representatives fretted about the short duration of the meeting between his delegation and the Natural Resources Minister.

“A delegation of residents of Chenapou, along with supporters met with the Minister of Natural Resources today to highlight their grave concerns and seeking urgent intervention.. Minister Raphael Trotman stayed for about 10 minutes and said he will get back to them on their requests. The community awaits an update from the Hon. Minister but maintain that they also await an audience with the Head of State,”  one of the participants said on her Facebook Page.

The Ministry of Natural Resources has not said anything about the meeting, and Trotman could not be reached for comment.

The NTC said the Patamona people, who live in the Potaro area, are under threat more so since the Kaieteur National Park was extended in 1999 to take in their traditional lands without consulting them. “It is only natural that after these disasters, that our millennia’s old survival instincts should take hold, however, these very practices are now deemed to be criminal as the Protected Areas has now criminalized our very traditions and infringed on our human rights.”

“The National Toshaos Council calls on His Excellency to closely examine the events that unfolded in the recent months as it relates to the Indigenous Peoples of Guyana, the infringement on our rights by private entities aided by Government and sometimes by Government themselves,” said the Council which is a statutory body.

The NTC has objected to the establishment of a Lands Commission of Inquiry into ancestral and Amerindian lands by President David Granger. Instead, that body has called on the Guyanese leader to stick to his promise and establish a separate inquiry into Amerindian lands.

  • Second Coming

    The State says the miners were working in protected areas. Are there signs posted at demarcation points nforming miners what areas they are prohibited from mining in? And is one to assume that the miners were previously warned yet they continue to mine in direct disregard for the warning? I find it tough to accept the State would rush down on the miners without prior warning.
    Matter of fact, I recall several Lindeners were either arrested or evicted, during the PPP government, after they turned up at an area previously mined out by Omai as the company packed up and left, claiming it made no money.
    I don’t know if the PPP government gave them prior warning or notice, but unless signs are posted, miners should be allowed to mine with approved licenses.

  • Parbudin Mackanlall

    Indigenous peoples cannot expect the world to bow down before them. The rule of law must be respected. Notwithstanding that, the drastic measures of arresting and charging them should not have been carried out without prior engagement in some shape or form. They should at a minimum have been warned and given a deadline to cease mining operations and withdraw their equipment.
    At least the NTC is acknowledging that the PPP government extended the Kaieteur National Park to take in their traditional lands. This should limit the PPP’s ability to milk this situation for all its worth.

    • Col123

      Hey chit head, in this world, you treat those struggling in life with a level of dignity. You didn’t learn anything from Jesus..bloody azz hole!

  • powerplayer

    Bai

    One pile to another. You all na look before you walk. We beg of you move away from the eight ball you too close to de pocket.

    So many pressing issues that can gain you atta boys why go after the OH Shiete

    What a wrang with you guys like all a you need a to bathe in blue

    You don’t need a college degree to know you should avoid messing with de natives

    You are attracting international attention offending a group you need and urinating against the wind

    Mr G reverse this with gods speed. You were ill advised. You will be seen as a better leader at the end of the day

  • Col123

    It was reported that Pres Granger ordered this operation. To round up a village, a disadvantaged group of people from the interior, air transport them to the city and masquerading them in the court, speak volumes about the lack of any thoughts as to the logistics and consequences of such an operation.
    It is quite clear that we are no better than those who enslaved us centuries ago. Is it the power we now hold over others? Is it the inherent lack of humanity we learned from our own experience as slaves? What was the intel known about these indigenous people to use such a heavy handed approach? Why would anyone see it necessary to round them up with AK47?… Who is the official who saw it necessary to airlift a female with her arm held child to face charges in the city ?
    Should we expect this from a President, especially one with military training?…