in Guyana

President of the Amerindian Peoples Association gets death threats in Guyana

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President of the Amerindian Peoples Association gets death threats in Guyana

A group of more than 40 environmental and social NGOs have written to Bharat Jagdeo, President of Guyana, raising their concerns about recent threats to Tony James, the President of the Amerindian Peoples Association. James received several threats in recent weeks, according to the Amerindian Peoples Association.

In one instance, states the letter, an unknown woman said, “They want his head; they want him dead.” Mongabay.com quotes an anonymous source in Georgetown, Guyana as saying that “Guyana has one of the highest crime rates in the world, so such threats must be taken seriously.”

The letter respectfully asks President Jagdeo to guarantee the safety of Tony James and his colleagues in the Amerindian Peoples Association.

December 17, 2010

His Excellency
Bharrat Jagdeo
President of the Republic of Guyana
Georgetown, Guyana
E-mail: opmed@op.gov.gy
Fax: 592 226 9969

Your Excellency:

The following 38 organizations from around the world are writing to express our concern for the security and well-being of Mr. Tony James, President of the Amerindian Peoples Association. According to the Executive Board of APA, in a statement issued on December 10th, there have been multiple incidents over recent months in which unknown
people have come asking about Tony’s whereabouts. In one instance, an unknown woman noted, “they want his head; they want him dead.”

Though these are not the first of such kind of incident, this is the first time APA has felt sufficiently concerned about Mr. James’ safety to raise the issue at an international level. We are concerned about these occurrences based on similar experiences in other contexts. Surveillance and attempts to locate human rights defenders are often a precursor to more serious repression with the objective of silencing their voices.

The APA and Mr. James are well known and respected in the international community at large, among indigenous organizations, NGOs, funding agencies, and government representatives. Many of us have collaborated directly and extensively with Mr. James and others within APA for years, in some cases for over a decade. We hold in high regard the organization’s activities on behalf of indigenous rights within the Guyanese national context and Mr. James’ tireless advocacy within international institutions.

We respectfully request that you guarantee the safety of Mr. James and his fellow APA members against the prospective threat represented by these recent incidents. Should the APA report another incident of unknown persons looking for Mr. James or any other situation perceived as threatening, we would request that you launch an impartial and thorough investigation into the situation. We will be paying close attention to the situation over the coming months.

Sincerely,

Amazon Watch, US
Asian Indigenous Women’s Network, Philippines
Bank Information Center, US
Campagna per la Riforma della Banca Mondiale (CRBM), Italy
Center for International Environmental Law, US
Cultural Survival, US
E-Tech International, USA
Earth Rights International, US
Environmental Defense Fund, US
Environmental Investigation Agency, US
FERN, UK
Forest Peoples Programme, UK
Friends of the Earth, Norway
Friends of the Earth, US
Global Greengrants Fund, US
Global Witness, UK
Government Accountability Project, US
Grassroots International, US
Indigenous Environmental Network, US
Ingrid Washinawatok El-Issa Flying Eagle Woman Fund for Peace, Justice and Sovereignty, US
International Accountability Project, US
International Forum on Globalization, US
International Funders for Indigenous Peoples, US
International Rivers, US
Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (Indigenous Peoples Network of Malaysia), Malaysia
Land is Life, US
Pacific Environment, US
PLATFORM, London, UK
Rainforest Action Network, US
Rainforest Foundation Norway
Rainforest Foundation UK
Rainforest Foundation US
Rainforest Information Centre, Australia
Survival International, UK
Tebtebba (Indigenous Peoples’ International Centre for Policy Research and Education), Philippines
Urgewald, Germany
World Rainforest Movement, Uruguay
Worldview, US
Randy Hayes, Rainforest Action Network Founder, US
Naupaka Zimmerman, Stanford University, US
Kimberly Carlson, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, US

Cc:
Hon. Charles Ramson, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Guyana
His Excellency Bayney Karran, Ambassador, Guyana Embassy & Permanent Mission To The Organization Of American States
Hon. Mr. George Talbot, Chargé d’Affaires, Permanent Representative, Guyana Permanent Mission To The United Nations
Dinah Shelton, Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Inter-American Human Rights Commission
S. James Anaya, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, United Nations
M. Kiari Liman-Tinguiri, United Nations Development Program, Resident Representative, Guyana
Yvonne Tsikata, World Bank Director for the Caribbean
Giorgio Valentini, World Bank Country Representative
Benoit Bosquet, Facility Management Team of the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility
Marco Carlo Nicola, Inter-American Development Bank, Resident Representative
Hans Brattskar, Tove Stub, Norwegian Climate and Forest Initiative
Per Mogstad, Alf Friisoe, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Turid Arnegaard, Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD)
The Norwegian Embassy to the Caribbean States
Simon Bond, Acting British High Commissioner, Georgetown
UK Department for International Development (DFID)
Ken Reiman, US Embassy in Georgetown
Heiko Warnken, German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development
Horst Freiberg, Head of Division, Ministry of the Environment
Reinhard Wolf, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ)
Johannes Scholl, KFW
Fons Gribling, Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Representative to the FCPF Participants Committee

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  1. If there was or were threats to Tony James it does not go well for me, he is a fellow Amerindian like myself and again if that was so, it is abhorrent and should not be extenuated. I do some-how have many reservations on this allegation of Tony being a target for threats. many normal protocols have been overlooked by APA and Tony James. I am not sure if the other Indigenous organisations in Guyana were informed or knowledgeable of this development. was the National Toshao’s Council advised on this matter? was the Police informed and some form of protection and investigation requested? why did Christine make reference to Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy and REDD+ initiatives? is this an insinuation that Tony James is being threatened for being vocal by the Multi-Stakeholder Steering Committee? or Government? Are these fringe international organisations that signed on to this natorious document accusing the Indigenous organisations In Guyana or being partners to this alleged threat? If there was or were threats to Tony James I assume it maybe for other reasons and not LCDS or REDD+ or for being vocal.
    Hereunder is that statement:

    Christine
    Background: The Amerindian Peoples Association (APA) is the most well-recognized representative indigenous organization in Guyana. With Tony at it’s helm, it has fought for the recognition of indigenous rights in Guyana. Most recently, Tony and the APA have been active on REDD issues, including Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy and on the international level. Tony has also been a vocal critic of mining in his area, as well as drug trafficking. RFUS and FPP have worked with the APA for over ten years, on issues related to land rights and community capacity building.

    http://www.actforclimatejustice.org/2010/12/please-sign-letter-for-threatened-indigenous-leader-in-guyana/

  2. Please note that nowhere do we make any accusations in our letter; we’ve simply explained our concerns about the threats to Tony’s life, and have given some background information on his work, and that of the APA. The threats came from unknown sources, but they were sufficient to raise alarm, and we felt it was critical to demonstrate the support that the APA and Tony have internationally. Forty signatories in under two days, right before the holidays, and from some major organizations, is significant.

  3. Don’t try to be naive and cunning Christine..your published background on APA and Tony James was meant to function as a measure to establish a potential reason for threats. it takes the place of a probation report before sentencing.
    …it tells the reader/supporter and imply slyly as the reason for triggering these alleged threats.
    it is a wicked strategy to implement…. although you claim not to have made any accusations your pointers are not difficult to read.
    So? are you implying that because APA and Tony has such a superb background it activated a series of threats to its membership? Your diplomacy lacks. The forty signatories you consider significant are being mislead, i hope they see the light soon. mean while our law enforcers will look into these allegations of threats. Stop being biased and promote peace and harmony for humanity.

  4. I am concerned that the head of the APA has received threats. I am indigenous Lokono from Guyana (www.forestkeepers.com) and find this report disturbing; for whatever reasons these threats were made. Thankfully, there are persons and organizations that are willing to take up issues such as these and publicise them. I am following this thread intently.

  5. well this comes as no surprise to anyone who knows Guyana politics and how the current regime and friends operate
    that it comes this late in the game as they are trying to get that norway cash is surprising