Amerindian leaders object to land CoI

first_img…says Govt sidelined Indigenous leaders on proposed commissionSeveral heads of Amerindian organisations have come out in protest at the objectives that would be driving the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into all issues of land titling in Guyana.President David Granger addressing the Commissioners following the swearing-in ceremony on FridayIn a strongly worded letter to the editor, the heads of the following organisations: Amerindian Peoples Association, Guyanese Organisation of Indigenous Peoples, The Amerindian Action Movement, South Central Peoples Development Association, and the National Amerindian Development Foundation, stated that they are objecting to any suggestion that the commission should address both “land extension” for Indigenous communities and “ancestral lands in coastal communities.” They contend that these issues are not connected, nor should they be; and point out that they will not accept the linkage of these issues in any commission or otherwise.“We see no basis for any link between these disparate issues, and consider that the announced course would only result in further delay on desperately needed action on Indigenous land rights,” the letter to the editor has stated.These objections have been ventilated even as President David Granger installed a six member CoI on Friday. The Commissioners are: Chairman Rev George Peter Chuck-A-Sang, and the members are David James, Carol Khan-James, Professor Rudolph James, Lennox Caleb and Paulette Henry. According to the Government, the commission would seek to resolve all the issues and uncertainties surrounding the individual, joint or communal ownership of lands acquired by free Africans, and also Amerindian land-titling claims.In remarks made at the simple ceremony held at State House, President Granger said Guyana boasts the size of Scotland and England combined, and if put together with Suriname, has a land mass much larger than Germany. Guyanese should therefore be able to rely on this land space, since, according to him, “land is life”.During an address on emancipation of the African slaves in 1838, President Granger had said the acquisition of land was foremost on the minds of the freed Africans. The Head of State had said Government recognises that land issues have not been settled, thus the Administration had taken a decision to ensure that people can live in Guyana without worrying about their future. The Indigenous people, who have been in Guyana from time immemorial, have strong cultural, material and spiritual connections to the land, he had said, and this was recognised at the time that Guyana became independent.Amerindian leaders currently feel that if the Government is of the view that the concept of “ancestral lands in coastal communities” warrants attention, this can and must be done separately from the actions it has promised and is obligated to undertake with respect to Indigenous lands. More importantly, the leaders contend that there has been no attempt to secure the participation of Indigenous peoples and organisations in this proposed commission, or in determining its terms of reference.last_img read more