National Toshaos Council accused of supporting smear campaign against Chinese Landing Toshao; NTC Chairman rejects claims

National Toshaos Council accused of supporting smear campaign against Chinese Landing Toshao; NTC Chairman rejects claims

The Toshao of Santa Rosa in Region One, has rapped the National Toshaos’ Council (NTC) accusing the NTC of leading a smear campaign aimed at discrediting the Toshao of Chinese Landing, Orin Fernandes, over his representation of his community.

However, the Chairman of the National Toshaos’ Derrick John has dismissed the claims of the NTC being involved in any smear campaign.

The Toshao of Santa Rosa, Stravos Stanley, raised the issue on Tuesday as the Toshaos sat down with Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo at their conference.

Stanley said while he is appreciative of the $276M that Santa Rosa and its satellite villages have received under the Low Carbon Development initiative, he is deeply concern over attempts to discredit the Toshao of Chinese Landing, who has been fighting to protect his people, their lands and resources.

“I am concerned that staff of the NTC is working on a smear campaign against the Toshao of Chinese Landing,” Toshao Stanley said as he held up an envelope containing a flyer depicting properties reportedly owned by the Chinese Landing Toshao and members of his Council.

He said any attempt to discredit the Toshao of Chinese Landing should be rejected outright.

 “If you think we Amerindian Leaders should be living under leaves all the time, and there is no room for improvement in our lives. It’s a smear campaign against Toshao Fernandes, and I am asking the Toshaos here to support me in this, that we must not allow our images to be tarnished,” Toshao Stanley said.

The Toshao of Santa Rosa alleged that an envelope containing the controversial flyer was handed to the Toshaos attending the 2023 NTC Conference by a staff member of the Toshaos Council.

But even as the Vice President was pronouncing on the matter, the Chairman sought to set the record straight, telling the conference of Toshaos that the NTC had nothing to do with the flyer currently in circulation.

“I want to make it very clear that I am not aware of such that is happening, and so, when that can be stated here, at the NTC, so now, I want to let you know that we will not support such, and we are not part of that,” the NTC Chair said.

The Vice President said while the Toshaos can engage in “robust disagreements” or a “full debate” there should be no attempt to “run-down anyone.” He said it is important to maintain respect for each other.

Mr Jagdeo said that Government has long supported the Village of Chinese Landing. The village has been pushing for the Government to revoke the mining permit issued to businessman Wayne Vieira.

“The reason they got the right to pursue that issue was because of the 2006 Amerindian Act that we passed, the PPP passed, which gave basically veto powers to the village over medium and small-scale mining. It is we go gave the communities that power under the Act. Secondly, on that matter, we stood on the side of the community throughout all the way to the Caribbean Court of Justice when the Caribbean Court of Justice ruled against us,” the Vice President explained.

The Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) had issued Vieira with cease work order in November 2010 over an alleged breach of the Amerindian Act, however, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) overturned that order, ruling in favour of the miner in 2017.

The Vice President, on Tuesday, said the judgment of the court must be respected. He said the Government will also respect the ruling of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), which granted precautionary measures in favour of the Indigenous Carib Community of Chinese Landing, who, it said, are at serious risk of suffering irreparable harm to their human rights.

The Government has since halted all mining in the area to prevent pollution and a number of social problems.

The Vice President said on Monday GGMC reported that nine (9) illegal mining operations were unearthed in the village, the majority of which were operated by residents of Chinese Landing.

Government has also dispatched a “fact-finding” team to the village to ascertain the challenges facing residents there.

 “We have to take firm action because if they say that the village and the villagers are being affected because of pollution and harassment, then Wayne Vieira can’t mine, but no other illegal mining or any mining. Nobody should mine, and then that solves the problem, at least for now, until we complete the fact finding,” the Vice President said.

He made it clear as well that Government will not get into a village fight. According to him, a number of residents have approached Government indicating that they are not in support of the Village Council.

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