Tuesday, November 29, 2005

APA in Guyana Responds

Statement from the Amerindian Peoples Association of Guyana:

In response to the proposed revision of the Amerindian Act and the refusal of the Government of Guyana to apply the term "indigenous" to the Amerindians of Guyana.


"Indigenous’ cannot refer to Afro-Guyanese:
The term ‘indigenous’ can only be applied to Amerindians in Guyana. During the debate in Parliament, the Minister stated that the term ‘indigenous’ cannot be used in the Bill because it could apply to Afro-Guyanese in addition to Amerindians. She cited decisions of the Inter-American Commission and Court of Human Rights, and the proposed American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as evidence to support this statement. She also stated that international definitions of the term ‘indigenous peoples’ may include Afro-Guyanese because they were present prior to colonization in 1803. Both of these assertions are incorrect and, under international law, Amerindian peoples are the only groups that can be considered to be indigenous to what is now called Guyana...." CLICK HERE TO READ MORE.

Guyana Challenges Indigenous Definitions

The Government of Guyana Attacks Ideas of Amerindians as "Indigenous":

Thanks to Fergus MacKay, the following information bulletin is presented here, dealing with how the Government of Guyana, in its proposed revision of the Amerindian Act, refuses to class Amerindians as "indigenous," arguing that all Guyanese are indigenous. In the following posting, a commentary produced by the Amerindian Peoples Association of Guyana, condemning this approach, will be attached.

The following was sent by Fergus MacKay:

Information from booklet prepared by the Government Information Agency (GINA) and distributed to Indigenous Communities in Guyana.

Title of Booklet.
The New Amerindian Act.
What it will do for Amerindians.
Answers to your questions.

Why is it still called the “Amerindian Act” and not the “Indigenous Peoples Act?”

“Indigenous Peoples” is a very wide term that means different things to different people. Everybody has a right under international law to define themselves as “indigenous.” In addition, the Government looked at many international definitions and found that some of them include not only Amerindians but also other sections of the Guyanese community.

Some people suggest that we define “indigenous” so it only applies to Amerindians but then it means that other Guyanese would no longer be able to call themselves indigenous and this would breach the principle set by international law.

All people have a right to call themselves “indigenous peoples” if they want. Indeed, earlier this year a French delegation made a presentation to the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Peoples in Geneva as the Indigenous Peoples of France.

Fergus MacKay
Coordinator, Legal and Human Rights Programme
Forest Peoples Programme
Ph/Fax: 31-20-419-1746