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Mr. Vincent Alexander, Chairman, International Decade for People of African Descent Assembly-Guyana (IDPADA-G) said the Government of Guyana failed to have representation at the recently held 1st Session of the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent, in Geneva. The Forum, held from December 5- December 8, 2022, facilitated discussions on the fight against systemic racism, climate justice, reparatory justice, and equality for all people of African descent.
In August 2021 the 193-member United Nations (UN) unanimously adopted a resolution establishing the United Nations Permanent Forum of People of African Descent, a 10-member advisory body that will work closely with the Geneva-based Human Rights Council. Guyana was part of that vote.
The new Forum, according to the UN will serve as a consultation mechanism for people of African descent and other stakeholders, and contribute to the elaboration of a UN declaration – a “first step towards a legally binding instrument” on the promotion and full respect of the rights of people of African descent.
IDPADA-G, which is a local representative of African Guyanese to realise the mission as outlined by the UN for the decade, has been the recipient of severe attacks by the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) government, notably Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo. The organisation’s leaders have been accused, by Jagdeo, of enriching themselves and not empowering the African community, charges the leaders strenuously denied. Alexander has since filed a multi-million-dollar defamation suit against Jagdeo and the Department of Public Information.
IDPADA-G presented to the public a detailed breakdown of spending of the state subvention (grant). The organisation was also audited by the state for every year the grant was paid. The government withdrew the subvention in September without notice or agreement with the organisation. IDPADA-G has since taken the government to court on the matter.
In an Op-Ed in Village Voice (December 10) Alexander stated the non-attendance “may well be indicative of the Government`s true disposition to the protagonism of IDPADA-G and ultimately the African Guyanese community.”
Addressing some of the issues the Forum would have discussed Alexander stated:
“The situation in Guyana today is even starker and begs for redress. While historical wrongs have to be righted, the multi-ethnic nature of the society and the uneven competition that was fostered, even as the African Guyanese faced the realities of post enslavement, created a basket case of the African Guyanese. The presence of race politics and ethnic dominance and a lack of empathy for the state of Guyanese of African descent have exacerbated their plight and calls for special attention.
“Much of what confronts Guyanese of African descent is as a consequence of deliberate acts of the state, both pre and post-independence. The successor state therefore has a responsibility to treat with the Guyanese of African descent in a manner, in principle, similar to the attention being given to the Indigenous tribes. Platitudes of equal opportunity and one Guyana cannot work. We are better described as Different Peoples, One State, One Destiny. That one destiny can only be realised if each people at their level of separateness and peculiar circumstance is given the necessary and requisite treatment.”