The Guyana Gold and Diamond Miner’s Association (GGDMA) is calling on President David Granger to order a Commission of Inquiry (COI) in the “shakedown” purportedly being perpetrated by ranks of the Guyana Police Force (GPF), stationed in mining districts in the country’s hinterland.
The call comes days after an alleged undocumented 29-year-old Brazilian miner, Estevao Costa Marques, was reportedly gunned down by a police constable in Puruni, located in the Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) district.
The GGDMA in a heavily-worded statement, said that it condemns in the “strongest possible way, the extra-judicial killing, by the Guyana Police Force, of a miner in the Puruni Area.”
According to the Association, the murder is the “latest in a series of contemptuous actions being meted out by the Government of Guyana against the mining industry.”
The Association further noted that an immediate investigation is needed into the execution of Marques – whom, they claim, was working on a legal claim.
“The GGDMA calls on President Granger to establish a Commission of Inquiry into the ongoing neglect, corruption, shakedown and extortion and now murder of miners at the hands of the security forces and appointed government officers. The GGDMA notes the current level of impunity in which brutality and neglect is allowed to be meted out to members of the mining industry. The ongoing neglect of the backbone of the Guyanese economy has not gone unnoticed,” the statement read.
No one in the Government is doing anything to help miners, the GGDMA contends, adding that all that is being done is the application of “pressure.”
“We are demanding our respect…There seems to be no one in charge of the mining sector and the government is yet to articulate its policy on continued mining in Guyana. There is an increasing level of bullyism taking place and public officers are clearly operating outside the law without consequence. The most recent murder of a miner and the recent detention of a dredge sailing in the Demerara River (not dredging) by an unauthorised regional authority officer demonstrates clearly to all miners that Government does not care about Miners or their families. Death, corruption and frustration are now the pillars on which the current government seems to be moulding the industry.”
According to media reports, the constable and another rank, were carrying out an “unauthorised” raid in the area when they came upon a camp that was occupied by individuals reportedly smoking marijuana.
Eyewitnesses say that Marques was unarmed and fleeing the area when the constable shot him. Media reports further revealed that the man was shot behind his head.
The police ranks then proceeded to dispose of the body but could not after several other miners began protesting.
One miner reportedly captured the entire ordeal using a mobile cellular phone. Photos have since plastered social media, showing the two ranks with the remains of Marquez leaving the camp.