Suriname denies intimidating indigenous people

(De Ware Tijd) PARAMARIBO – Accusations against the government of manipulation or intimidation of Indigenous communities in South Suriname are baseless. This is said by both Minister Linus Diko (Regional Development) and a source that has had close contacts with these Indigenous peoples for over 15 years now. “The government is not in the habit of manipulating its own people”, Diko says. At a press conference earlier this week, Lloyd Read of the Association of Indigenous Village Heads in Suriname (VIDS) did not say explicitly that the government had manipulated the southern Indigenous leaders. He did say, however, that the manner in which the southern Indigenous had withdrawn their support for the resolution that effectively ended the recent land rights conference was not above board. “I can only say that we can conclude from reports and statements that have reached us that the apology to the President was not initiated by themselves”, Read said. According to him, the leaders were already on the plane back to their villages when they were suddenly called back to Paramaribo ‘by the government”. At the President’s Office, the southern leaders asked questions about why the VIDS was not there, but were told that this did not matter. “Then they could do nothing else but withdraw their support and apologize.” A source that has worked in South Suriname for years denies Read’s allegations. “First of all, I want to say that I have no interest in the land rights issue, and I have not been appointed as a spokesman by the traditional leaders,” the source says, thus indicating his reasons for wishing to remain anonymous. “I am only speaking based on my knowledge and contacts and I am convinced that the leaders went to the President’s Office at their own initiative.”

 

 

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