Toshaos council calls on President to reverse land commission plan

The National Toshaos’ Council today called on President David Granger to rescind the establishment of a commission of inquiry into lands.

A statement from the council follows:

The National Toshaos’ Council, categorically condemns the establishment of the Commission of Inquiry as a mechanism to guide the process to addressing the lands issues as it relates to the Indigenous People’s of Guyana.

Guyana’s First Peoples, as a core group of people with a very unique status in Guyana, and having lived on this land for time immemorial, view it as an aberration that needs to be recalled and have established, two separate entities to deal with the issues currently placed under such a blanket.

The National Toshaos’ Council, a body comprising of all Toshaos of Guyana and a representative body of the Indigenous Peoples of Guyana, having never been consulted in the formation of such a body, cannot, with any degree of sanity nor confidence, respect such a body, and will refuse to cooperate with such a body.

The severe lack of consultations, non FPIC compliant, and the mere fact that a unilateral decision can be made on behalf of the Indigenous Peoples of Guyana in such a manner are most concerning.

This is clearly viewed as a blatant attempt in trying to dispossess the Indigenous Peoples of our lands and we cannot condone such an attempt.

While we support Reparations and Repatriation of African Lands and addressing that issue with a great degree of urgency, the Indigenous Lands issue cannot and should not be viewed in the same light, nor can it be addressed under the same framework.
The Indigenous Peoples, by Law, are entitled to their Traditional Lands, while the Africans are entitled to lands that were sold to their Ancestors. It is this very separation that needs to be clearly identified and defined. It is also in realizing that these two issues are separate issues that we must address them separately.

In the Amerindian Act of 2006, as a matter of Law, there exist a process that speaks to the issue of Amerindian Lands. Also, under the Amerindian Land Titling Program, informed at great lengths by the Amerindian Act, Guyana’s Constitution, and International Law, there exists a very robust framework that speaks to Amerindian Lands. This framework was developed by all key stakeholders from the Indigenous Fraternity and the Government of Guyana through Agents from GGMC, GFC, GLSC, MoIPA, GGDMA, GWMA, and the UNDP.

At the National Toshaos’ Conference of 2015, His Excellency committed in his Ten Point Plan, to establish a, “Hinterland and Indigenous People Lands Commission” that will address all Indigenous Lands Issues which the NTC, without resolve,supported.
We are forced to remind His Excellency of that commitment and to immediately seek for him to hold that commitment to the Indigenous Population of Guyana.

We are also keen to remind His Excellency of the APNU’s Manifesto within which his party committed to protect Guyana’s Indigenous Population as mandated by Guyana’s Constitution,clearly informed by Article 149(G), to respect Guyana’s Treaty obligations including ILO169, and to recognize the various International laws that were made for the protection of the indigenous peoples, both in Guyana and Globally.

We call on His Excellency for a complete repeal of the mandate of this Commission and to establish the Indigenous Peoples’ Lands Commission.

Failure by His Excellency to Act would clearly demonstrate that Guyana’s Indigenous Peoples are bein

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