–Toshao Dorrick accused of being “an apologist” for APNU/AFC coalition
As the eleventh Annual National Toshaos Council (NTC) Conference concluded on Saturday, another toshao has come out in stinging criticisms of Yupukari Toshao Russian Dorrick, accusing him of being “an apologist” for the Government regarding issues relating to the development of Indigenous (Amerindian) people in
Dorrick had told this publication that the NTC Executive did not stick to the agenda for the conference. “To be honest, I am not too sure what I am going to tell my people. I came to the NTC with the hope that I would have had a response to go back and tell the people what I got,” Dorrick said.
In response, however, the toshao (who preferred to have his identity concealed), rebuffed the Yupukari toshao’s comments>> on Sunday by telling <<Guyana Times that Dorrick has refused to blame the coalition APNU/AFC Administration for Amerindians not achieving what they had set out to attain during the meetings.
“He has accused the PPP in the past for not doing enough, which is a blatant lie,” the toshao expressed.
He also criticised the response, or lack thereof, to the flood recovery situation in Region 8 (Potaro-Siparuni). Noting that this was just one of the issues that needed to be addressed, the toshao indicated that Government, and not the NTC, should be blamed for the plight of Amerindians and lack of any tangible achievement at the conference.
When this newspaper had interviewed several toshaos during the 2017 NTC, they claimed there were too many hiccups during the six days they had met to discuss important issues affecting their villages. Several members of the NTC Executive staged a walkout on Wednesday, accusing Government of attempting to ‘undermine’ the issues being put forward for discussion.
Vice Chairman of the NTC, Lenox Shuman, told Guyana Times that while toshaos intended to host presentations on that day, there was no Government minister present until the evening.
“The fact that seven Government ministers showed up just to engage the NTC at this very last moment is questionable. It brings to my mind the question of sincerity. How sincere and what kind of action you are going to get for these people? And I see it as an attempt to undermine the credibility of the NTC, to undermine the proposed work that the NTC is doing, and to ensure that the NTC remains weak,” Shuman had related.
Shuman berated the ministers for showing up late in the evenings: “I don’t see the NTC to be a side chick or a side thing for the ministers, that they could only see us in the nights. What is wrong with during the day” he questioned. The Toshao that this newspaper spoke with on Sunday concurred, criticizing the ministers for going to meeting at 18:00 hrs to 20:00 hrs rather than earlier. In fact, the Toshao pointed out that several MPs from the Opposition PPP/C were present throughout the day where discussions were held on number of issues that affect Amerindians including land tenure and titling, recovery efforts and assistance in the aftermath of flooding in Region 8.
Meanwhile, NTC officials had told <<Guyana Times>> that issues which should have been, resolved since the last NTC conference have been discussed again and the same solutions given last year have been repeated. He said that, over the past year, the NTC has been preaching for Government to release the guns seized during the gun amnesty from Amerindians, and Ramjattan has again promised to give the guns back.
“Minister Ramjattan showed up and said, ‘You will get your guns back; we have to put serial numbers on them. Why isn’t it we could get this action since a year ago when we brought it to his attention?” Shuman expressed.
At the opening of conference, the NTC executive had also condemned comments made by a Government Minister, who suggested that Amerindians are greedy. Chairman of the Council, Joel Fredericks, criticised Government over an incident which took place as a direct attack on Indigenous people’s identity, and expressed disappointment with the statement.
“(There are) Ministers of the Government insulting the Indigenous people and calling them greedy, also in Parliament, without any consequence,” he had observed.
He also raised concerns over the fact that no parliamentarian from either the Government or Opposition had side of the House had objected to the remarks purportedly made by the said Minister in Parliament.
Issues such as alleged political interference in Indigenous communities and the need for strengthening of the NTC were also discussed at the conference opening.