Wapichan Village Leaders and District Toshaos Council in Guyana call on the government to halt all mining activities affecting the southern portion of their territory until land and territorial rights are secured and proper safeguards for FPIC are put in place, October 2015:
Rt Hon Minister R Trotman, Ministry of Governance, Georgetown, Guyana
South and South Central Rupununi District Toshaos Council, c/o Shorinab Village, South Central Rupununi, Region 9, Guyana
Date: 20th October 2015
Re: Enquiry regarding government actions taken in response to DTC letter passed to the Ministry of Governance on 25th August 2015
On the occasion of the 2nd statutory meeting of the South and South Central Rupununi District Toshaos Council, held in Aishalton Village on 19-21 October 2015, we the undersigned Toshaos, wish to formally enquire what actions, if any, have been executed by your Ministry as a result of our letter raising concerns over mining. The said letter was passed directly to you by Toshao Nicholas Fredericks at the NTC meeting in August of this year.
In that letter, our villages, and our collective representative body known as the South and South Central Rupununi District Toshaos Council, appealed to your Ministry to immediately suspend all mining operations in the Marudi mining fields. Since then, we remain most concerned that the commercial extractive activities in Marudi have not ceased. As a matter of fact, extremely destructive mining has accelerated at an alarming rate causing widespread environmental damage and social disruption. Harmful mining activities in Marudi thus continue to cause extensive deforestation, water pollution, damage to farming, hunting and gathering grounds, and harm to medicinal plants. Similar negative impacts are also on the increase in other parts of our territory at Wakada Naawa in the headwaters of the Kuyuwini and Takatu Rivers. At the same time, we are distressed to learn that excavators are planning to enter a mining area in Silver Creek in the Kwitaro River Valley against the wishes of our Villages.
By means of this letter, the South Rupununi Amerindian Villages and our South and South Central Rupununi District Toshaos Council hereby call on your Ministry and applicable agencies to:
- Take immediate action to halt all mining causing deforestation, water pollution, negative social impacts and environmental damage in the Marudi mining fields and in others areas of our territory affected by destructive mining, including in the lands and proposed extension areas of Achawib Village, Kraudar Village, Parabara Village and Awaru Wa’o Naawa Village.
- Prioritise actions to prevent illegal mining by Brazilians and other foreign mining interests in our area (our own field visits to the affected areas confirm that it is these outsider miners who are highly destructive and abusive of the environment).
- Given absolute priority to the issue of titling Parabara Village and providing land title extensions for our Villages, including for Aishalton, Awaru Wa’o Naawa, Kraudar and Achawib Villages. This work must be undertaken by the relevant bodies and authorities in full respect of our rights, so that our villages may begin to take full control over mining and other commercial activities within our titled areas.
- Reformulate the official approach and regulation of mining in the South Rupununi to address the demands of our Villages that all commercial mining to be prohibited in fragile ecosystems, especially in the headwaters of rivers and creeks within our territory and extension areas.
- Revoke all mining blocks within our proposed extension areas forthwith until such time as strong protections for our rights and our environment are put in place.
Our villages look to your Ministry to address the issues raised in this letter and we await your formal response in the near future.
Name Village Position
Cyril Anthony Parikawarunawa Toshao
Nicholas Fredericks Shulinab Toshao
Derrick David Sandcreek Toshao
Paulinus Albert Potarinau Toshao
Marcus Alexander Katoonarib Toshao
Gregory Thomas Sawariwau Toshao
Leonard Johnson Achawib Toshao
Ernest Thompson Karaudar Toshao
Dorothy James Aishalton Deputy Toshao
Genevieve Rodrigues Thomas Awarewaunau Toshao
Patrick Gomes Maruranau Toshao
John Augustus Shea Toshao
Dominic Charlie Meriwau Senior Councillor
Derrick Adolph Quaiko Senior Councillor
Pius Joaquim Baitoon Councillor
National Toshaos Council
Ministry of Indigenous Peoples Affairs
Indigenous Peoples Commission
Regional Democratic Council (Region 9)
Guyana Geology and Mines Commission