The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has issued Resolution 41/2023, sounding the alarm on the dire situation faced by the Indigenous Carib Community of Chinese Landing. These resilient people, numbering around 210, have allegedly found themselves under siege from miners and even some members of the police force, threatening their very existence.
A heart-wrenching petition filed by the village council, the Amerindian Peoples Association of Guyana, and the Forest Peoples Programme, lays bare the grave risks imposed by unauthorized mining encroachments on their sacred titled lands. For far too long, the petition noted that the Carib community has endured a chronic pattern of discrimination, and had their rights continually relegated beneath the interests of mining conglomerates in Guyana.
At the centre of the case of concern is a mining permit granted by Guyanese authorities to Mr. W. V. in 1995, without seeking the community’s consent. This violation of the Amerindian Act of 2006 left the Carib people reeling in despair. While they managed to raise complaints and secure a cease work order in 2010, a High Court Judge later overturned thus order. They have since appealed and pending the determination of that case, mining continues at full speed.
The petition also noted that residents who have been continuously harassed are struggling to deal with polluted water ways. The pristine Huri Creek, once a lifeline for the village, now stands tainted and deadly, casting a pall of sickness over the villagers who suffer from instances of severe rashes, vomiting and diarrhoea. Mercury, a toxic menace, is also alleged to be leeching into their water supply, wreaking havoc on their health.
Throughout this tumultuous ordeal, the Carib community sought solace in the arms of justice, pleading their case before State authorities and the esteemed Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The petition notes that enough action was not taken by State figures hence a report was lodged with the commission in hopes that greater action is taken.
In light of the contents of the petition, the IACHR now beseeches Guyana to stand firm and protect the Carib community’s right to life and personal integrity and engage in meaningful consultations. It has also called on Guyanese authorities to investigate the matter in full.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is an autonomous organ of the Organization of American States. Its mission is to promote and protect human rights in the American hemisphere.