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Press Release: Amerindian Peoples Association calls for Government of Guyana to secure full extent of traditional lands

GEORGETOWN, May 13, 2016: The Amerindian Peoples Association (APA) held its 9th General Assembly on 10-12 May 2016 in the village of Pakuri, Region 4. The main issues discussed during the assembly included land rights, climate change, and the various social and environmental issues affecting indigenous communities throughout the country. The assembly also highlighted the proactive measures communities are engaged in to build a stronger, greener, and more just Guyana.

Indigenous peoples in Guyana call for strong protections for customary land rights and application of FPIC in timber trade agreement with the EU

In two newly released reports, indigenous leaders point out that the current concession allocations system in Guyana is unjust, severely flawed and facilitated by a national legal framework that does not fully respect their internationally protected rights to their customary lands and resources.

The foreign companies come and they have legal rights and we the people who have been living here all the time do not have legal rights.” [Resident, Kwebanna village]

Action on land rights and FPIC are key to effective forest and climate initiatives - finds new APA and FPP special report on Guyana

Guyana has been a major proponent of international funding for avoided deforestation in tropical countries. In 2009 the government signed an MOU with the Kingdom of Norway under an agreement to reduce deforestation, pursue low carbon (non-fossil fuel) development and enter into negotiations with the EU on a trade treaty under the Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) initiative. Almost five years after the signing of this bilateral agreement, how are indigenous peoples’ rights and local benefit sharing issues being addressed in Guyana’s land use, forest and climate policies?

Amerindian Peoples Association (APA) Press Release: Concerns with Amerindian Land Titling Project under the Guyana/Norway Guyana REDD Investment Fund (GRIF)

On Monday October 21, 2013 the Government of Guyana and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) signed a contract for the Amerindian Land Titling Project under the Guyana/Norway Guyana REDD Investment Fund (GRIF) arrangement. This signing took place during the opening session of the Seventh Annual Meeting of the National Toshaos Council and is heralded by President Donald Ramotar as fulfilling a promise made to the Amerindian people in the PPP’s manifesto. Campaigning? According to another government official Minister of Finance Ashni Singh, the project will give Amerindians control over the lands that belong to them. The project, according to the government is to facilitate the titling and demarcation of Amerindian lands. 

Indigenous peoples’ organisations and international NGOs call for slowdown of Guyana-EU FLEGT process

In April and May 2013 the Amerindian Peoples’ Association (APA) of Guyana and a consortium of European NGOs, including Forest Peoples Programme, sent letters to the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) and the European Commission (EU) respectively, expressing concerns about rushed consultation processes and a lack of meaningful participation by forest dependent communities in the FLEGT process. 

AMERINDIAN PEOPLES ASSOCIATION (APA) PRESS RELEASE: The APA Has Never Called for a “State within a State” but Instead Respect for Indigenous Rights

Recently and even more than before there has been a spate of letters appearing in the Guyana Chronicle leveled at criticizing the work of the Amerindian Peoples Association (APA) and making totally false and malicious statements and assertions about the organisation and its Vice President Tony James. These include ones written by Noel Antone (June 6), Patrick Austin (June 9) and Peter Persaud (June 12). Letters such as those above have been given ready publication by the Chronicle but when the APA has responded to provide the truth, our letters or releases are never published by the paper.

Indigenous peoples’ rights violated and traditional lands in Guyana threatened by mining

At the beginning of 2013, indigenous peoples in Guyana are becoming increasingly alarmed over continuing and growing disregard for their legitimate rights by miners and government agencies and gross rights violations which have been endorsed by the judiciary in two recent cases. In 2012, the mining lobby publicly attacked indigenous peoples’ land rights in the Guyanese press and pledged to oppose recognition of customary lands. Meanwhile, the government agency responsible for regulating the mining sector appears to be accelerating the issuance of mining permits and concessions on Amerindian customary lands, despite the fact that these same lands are the subject of legal actions in the courts seeking recognition of traditional ownership rights and/or unresolved village applications for land title and title extensions.

Views of FPP partners on Rio+20 summit

Forest Peoples Programme and a delegation of indigenous peoples’ leaders from Guyana, Suriname, Peru, Panama and Kenya attended the Rio+20 Indigenous Peoples’ International Conference on Self-Sustainable Development and Self-Determination from 17-19 June and the formal Rio+20 intergovernmental meeting from 20-22 June 2012.

Opiniões dos parceiros do FPP sobre a Cúpula Rio +20

O Forest Peoples Programme e uma delegação de líderes indígenas da Guiana, Suriname, Peru, Panamá e Quênia participaram da Conferência Internacional Rio+20 dos Povos Indígenas sobre Autodeterminação e Desenvolvimento Sustentável, realizada entre 17 e 19 de junho, e da cúpula intergovernamental formal da Rio +20, realizada entre 20 e 22 de junho de 2012. Os delegados também participaram da reunião Karioca II, da Cúpula dos Povos, e estiveram envolvidos com o Dia de Ação Global no dia 20 de junho.

Depois de uma semana intensa, tomada por entrevistas coletivas, apresentações, marchas e participação em reuniões oficiais e eventos paralelos, o FPP pediu aos delegados indígenas que comentassem sobre as suas experiências na Rio+20 e outras questões relacionadas à mesma. Apresentamos alguns trechos dessas entrevistas:

Press Release: Indigenous peoples insist on rights-based approaches and respect for traditional knowledge and practices in Rio+20 outcomes

As government representatives start formal negotiations in Brazil to seek agreements on so-called ‘green economy’ policies and to assess progress in fulfilling commitments on environment and development made at the Rio Earth Summit twenty years ago, indigenous peoples from all over the world have come together at the Rio+20 global summit to put forward their own solutions for sustainable development and to flag serious risks associated with government ‘green’ proposals.

Durban COP 17: UNFCCC fudges decision on climate finance and makes little progress on REDD+ safeguard implementation

Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at their recent COP17 did not support performance indicators for reporting on the implementation of indigenous peoples’ rights in REDD+. However, they did recognise that REDD+ benefits have to go beyond carbon to include biodiversity conservation and support for local livelihoods.

Forest Peoples Programme, with a delegation of indigenous peoples from Guyana, Kenya, Cameroon, Suriname and Peru, attended preparatory negotiations and the 17th Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC in Durban, South Africa, in late November/early December 2011. The main purpose of FPP’s attendance was to support the Indigenous Peoples’ Caucus and closely follow negotiations on REDD+ safeguards and finance. 

Lessons from the field: REDD+ and the rights of indigenous peoples and forest dependent communities

In October 2011, Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) conducted a survey of our local partners asking them to pinpoint key experiences and emerging lessons learned in relation to REDD+ and rights issues over the last three years. Partners who contributed include the Centre for Environment and Development (CED) and Association Okani (Cameroon), CEDEN (DRC), Foundation for the Promotion of Traditional Knowledge (Panama), Amerindian Peoples Association (Guyana), Association of Village Leaders in Suriname, Association of Saamaka Authorities (Suriname), AIDESEP (Peru), Federation for the Self-Determination of Indigenous Peoples (Paraguay) and Scale-up, Pusaka and FPP field staff (Indonesia). Observations and lessons are also drawn from workshops with local partners, field studies and issues stemming from indigenous peoples’ representatives in dialogues with national and international REDD+ policy-makers. Key observations and lessons are summarised below.

Guyana’s forest and climate plans continue to generate controversy and sideline indigenous peoples

While the President of Guyana was named a “Champion of the Earth” by the UN earlier this year in relation to his efforts to secure international support for forest protection and “low carbon” growth, some indigenous leaders and civil society organisations both inside and outside the country continue to expose and challenge the deep contradictions in the government’s forest and climate plans. In June 2010, the President of the Amerindian Peoples Association (APA) made a strong statement to the Sixth Participant’s Committee meeting of the World Bank Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) in Georgetown, asking why key land rights issues raised repeatedly by APA have still not been addressed in the Guyana Forestry Commission’s (GFC) latest REDD+ readiness proposals.