Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman has instructed that an immediate investigation be launched into a confrontation between a Russian national and a Guyanese worker in the Quartstone, Cuyuni Mazaruni District.
A video of the incident has since gone viral; prompting miners’ rights advocates to call for government’s intervention.
Earlier today, the Caribbean Guyana Institute of Democracy (CGID), issued a public statement and a video of the ordeal.
The body wrote to President, David Granger; the Ministers of Legal Affairs, National Security and Natural Resources; the acting Police Commissioner David Ramnarine; and Chairman of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), Mr. Stanley Ming, expressing concerns.
The Institute’s President, Rickforde Burke, asserted that the Russians allegedly committed torture and other crimes against humanity as well as other human rights abuses of Guyanese citizens, which the government must not condone.
Detailing the incident which occurred last Friday, the CGID noted that Forest Ranger, Ken Edwards and Charles Clarke – employees of Hopkinson Mining Logistics – were executing their normal duties on their employer’s claim in Quartzstone, Region Seven, when they were intercepted by Russian operatives of West Bank Demerara Gold Inc.
The Russians attempted to prohibit the Hopkinson workers from entering further on the said land.
The video recording shows a Russian operative who is known in the concession area as “Batali,” demanding documentation and challenging Edwards and Charles’ right to be on their employer’s claim. He subsequently attempted to block their access.
Batali then punched Edwards in his face. When Edwards attempted to defend himself, Batali punched him a second time, then pulled a gun on the men.
The Ministry in response, issued a release stating that it has order an immediate probe into the incident allegedly showing “armed foreigners assaulting local miners,”
The CGID also issued pictures of a Guyanese handcuffed to what appears to be a column supporting the rafters of a camp.
“The images are disturbing on many levels and raise issues about security, the authority of foreigners to carry arms and conflict resolution in the mining sector. To this end, the Minister of Natural Resources has instructed the Commissioner of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) and the Director of the Corps of Wardens to launch an immediate investigation to ascertain the veracity of the video and to solicit the support of the Guyana Police Force in their investigation,” the Ministry noted.
A report on the incident is expected within 48 hours.