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Police, mines officers being deployed to Chinese Landing to suspend all mining

Last Updated on Wednesday, 2 August 2023, 22:06 by Denis Chabrol

Guyanese police and officers of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) are to be deployed to Chinese Landing in Region One (Barima-Waini) to suspend all gold mining to deal with concerns by the Indigenous Carib community, in response to precautionary measures that have been issued by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and demands by the Village Council.

To implement this, a team from  the Guyana Police Force and the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission will be deployed to put  this decision into effect and to ensure that there is a peaceful cessation to all mining,” the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance said in a statement.

The decision to stop all mining at Chinese Landing “temporarily” is aimed at creating a more conducive environment to address the concerns by “the community and all concerned.”

Announcement that mining at Chinese Landing would be ground to a halt coincided with plans being made to send in a broad-based fact-finding mission to the community for talks in August 5 to 6 “to allow for the  measures to be properly implemented,” the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance added. Initially, the Village Council was prepared to accommodate the team on August 2 to 3

Government noted that an initial request for the planned fact-finding mission to be accommodated  was sent to Toshao Fernandes on July 28. A response was received dated July 29 in which the  Toshao explained that “while we appreciate your quick reaction and proposal…the village council  requires slightly more time to confer with the village on the appropriate measures”.

Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo last week said a previous cease work order by the GGMC had been successfully challenged to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) after which a mining permit had been issued to the plaintiff in that case as well as others from the community.

The Parliamentary and Governance Affairs Ministry stressed in its statement that government opted to suspend mining there in response to claims contained in the IACHR resolution that community members “felt unsafe even passing through the concessions to the other side to farm, hunt and fish,  and to visit our families” and Toshao Orin Fernandes’ concern in correspondence to Minister Gail Teixeira dated July 29, 2023 that immediate steps should include that “mining activity must stop.” 

The ministry said  Toshao Fernandes was reminded that the outstanding issues identified by the IACHR  as prompted by the community’s May 22, 2023 submission were only seen for the first time by  government when it received the IACHR resolution. “As such, those claims would need to be  investigated as they include further allegations about health, environment pollution and  outstanding investigations with regards to harassment, intimidation and personal integrity,” the ministry said. 

The Government of Guyana said it then dispatched another correspondence on July 31, 2023 to the  Toshao, responding to all questions and concerns and making clear the government’s approach. The Parliamentary Affairs and Governance Ministry said it  was reiterated that the fact-finding mission was being implanted to effectively implement requests from the IACHR for the government of Guyana to “report on the actions taken to investigate the  events that led up to the adoption of [the] precautionary measure, so as to prevent such events from  happening again”. 

The Government of Guyana said it appreciated the continued communication between  the Toshao, Village Council and the Government, even in the face of inevitable differences. In the  space of only 5 days there have been a total of four correspondences between the parties, and the  Village Council has clearly indicated its resolution to collaborate with Government in the best  interest of the community of Chinese Landing, government added. 

The Government of Guyana said it welcomed the efforts made by the Chinese Landing Village Council  and commits to continue working directly with the beneficiaries (the people of Chinese Landing)  and their elected representatives -Toshao Orin Fernandes and the Village Council).  

Against that background, government dismissed interventions by the Amerindian People’s Association (APA).

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August 2023