In an official response to the precautionary measures provided by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to Guyana on July 21, 2023, the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance communicated last evening, the government’s decision to impose a temporary cessation of all mining activities at Chinese Landing. This move aims to foster a more favourable environment to address the concerns of all involved parties.
The government’s decision is also a direct outcome of persistent dialogue with the Chinese Landing Village Council and is driven by community grievances outlined in the IACHR resolution and reiterated by Toshao Orin Fernandes in a letter dated July 29, 2023. These grievances include community members feeling unsafe traversing the mining concessions and the need for an immediate cessation of mining operations.
It is important to mention that the government initially proposed a fact-finding mission, which was communicated to Toshao Fernandes on July 28. The Toshao responded on July 29, expressing appreciation for the government’s prompt action but requested more time for consultation with the village community. Subsequent to this dialogue, the government sent another letter on July 31, 2023, addressing all concerns and clarifying the intention of the fact-finding mission as a means to prevent recurrence of the events leading up to the IACHR’s precautionary measures.
Moreover, in compliance with the Village Council’s request, the government said it will enforce a halt on all mining operations within the village. A team consisting of members from the Guyana Police Force and the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission will be deployed to effect this cessation, ensuring peaceful implementation. Consequently, the fact-finding mission has been rescheduled to August 5-6, 2023.
The government said in a statement that it highly appreciates the ongoing dialogue between the Toshao, the Village Council, and its representatives. This collaborative effort, despite inherent differences, has led to a total of four correspondences within a five-day span. Government also indicated that the Village Council has shown commitment to collaborating for the best interests of the Chinese Landing community.
The government said it also continues to welcome the efforts of the Chinese Landing Village Council and pledges to maintain a direct working relationship with the beneficiaries – the Chinese Landing community, represented by Toshao Orin Fernandes and the Village Council.
Regarding the Amerindian Peoples Association’s (APA) statements published in the August 2 edition of the Stabroek Newspaper, the government said it considers these misleading and divisive, potentially inciting rivalry. The government, in the spirit of full disclosure and transparency, also urged APA to disclose the records of funds its have received for the implementation of numerous projects.
It is noted that the APA has been allocated a total of US$5,151,387 by the Land Tenure Facility (based in Stockholm, Sweden) from 2019 to 2026. However, key stakeholders listed for this project, including the National Toshaos Council and the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples Affairs, have no records of engagements with the APA.
The government also affirmed its commitment to resolving the identified issues, working directly with the people of Chinese Landing. It said, “We trust that the mining cessation decision aligns with the primary requests of the Chinese Landing community. We welcome the open communication approach by Toshao Fernandes and the Chinese Landing Village Council and anticipate proceeding with the crucial fact-finding mission at the earliest feasible time.”