Unilateral decision to cancel the NTC Conference is cause for alarm

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Dear Editor,

National Toshaos’ Council 2022 cancelled as many Amerindian leaders flout Covid measures – Sukhai February 8th).

Government’s unilateral decision to cancel the National Toshaos’ Council (NTC) Conference in 2022 is cause for alarm within the Indigenous Guyanese population. Indigenous Peoples the world over must take note and strongly condemn this action.

Guyana is a signatory to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

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1. “Indigenous Peoples in exercising their right to self-determination, have the right to autonomy or self-government in matters relating to their internal and local affairs…” – Article four 4 – UNDRIP.

2. “States shall take effective measuresin consultation and cooperation with the indigenous peoples concerned to combat prejudice and eliminate discrimination and to promote tolerance, understanding and good relations among indigenous peoples and all other segments of society.” – Article15 (2) UNDRIP.

3. “States shall consult and co-operate in good faith with the indigenous peoples through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them.” Article 19 – UNDRIP.

The foregoing are but three (3) provisions of the UNDRIP. The decision of the government to cancel the NTC 2022 violates all of the above provisions of the UNDRIP, which as a signatory Guyana binds itself to honour. Government’s decision in this regard is nothing short of disrespect for Guyana’s Indigenous Peoples. The minister in her arbitrary decision, proceeds to blame Toshaos for the cancellation. The Toshaos constitute the NTC, one of the “representative institutions” referred to in Article 19 of the UNDRIP. Guyanese must judge the minister behaviour.

The minister’s action was not only arbitrary, it was highly prejudicial, discriminatory, contrary to the right to self-determination and a flagrant violation of the right to Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). The actions of the Minister of Amerindian Affairs is outrageous and must be condemned in the strongest manner.

Yours faithfully,
Mervyn Williams.



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