Opposition Leader, Joseph Harmon has emphasized the need for Ethnic Relations Commissioners to be held to a higher standard of accountability. He made this remark and more during the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC)’s first-ever National Conversation on Race Relations being held virtually.

Harmon’s comment comes on the heels of what he deems “insensitive” comments made by ERC Commissioner, Roshan Khan, whom the Opposition has sought to have removed from the body.

“It disappointing for us, as Guyanese, to note that there were insensitive statements made by a current commissioner, which recently served to fan the flames of ethnic disharmony…We cannot tolerate that type of behaviour… Since we are striving for greater social cohesion in our society, our commissioners will have to be held to a higher standard of accountability – this is an absolute necessity,” the Opposition Leader stressed.

Speaking on the genesis on racial disharmony, Harmon blames “colonial masters”. He said that the Nation must commit to start a discussion on racial harmony by first looking at a system built on slavery and indentureship, and credence must be given to elements of Guyana’s diversity.

The Opposition Leader spoke extensively about equality and the need for all to work towards placing Guyana on a path of racial harmony.

He pointed out the various initiatives that were undertaken during the A Partnership for National Unity +Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC)’s tenure in office, including the formulation of a Social Cohesion Ministry. The former State Minister also spoke about the ERC being reconstituted in 2017 by the APNU+AFC government, because the regime “recognized the role and functions of the commission to society”.

“The APNU+AFC provided an enabling environment for the functioning of the ERC, through the provision of human and financial resources,” he added.

The event, which concludes tomorrow, seeks to ascertain the challenges to ethnic relations in Guyana, and to put forward recommendations to the National Assembly for consideration, and thereafter, implementation. The ERC is urging social media users to access the links from its Facebook page to follow and participate.

The ERC says panelists will include Professor David Hinds, Indian Rights Activist Ravi Dev, Attorney-at-Law Nigel Hughes, Indigenous Leader Lenox Shuman, veteran Guyanese politician Ralph Ramkarran, public communications specialist and former government minister Kit Nascimento as well as Renata Chuck-a-Sang and University of Guyana Vice Chancellor Professor Paloma Mohammed-Martin.


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