– accused of discrimination and targeting Amerindians
Over 1200 residents of Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo) have petitioned President David
Granger, calling for the removal of Regional Executive Officer Carl Parker who they accused of discriminatory practices and “unprofessional misconduct.”
The petition, dated Monday, April 11, 2016, was sent to President David Granger on Wednesday April 13, 2016, and copied to several Government Ministers and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
The petition, in the name of Berlinda Duncan, is signed by 1200 residents of Region Nine, and accuses Parker of discrimination and targeting Amerindians since his appointment last year, following the May 11 General and Regional Elections.
The petitioners said several letters of complaints were written to various Ministries of Government to investigate the REO’s unprofessional misconduct, but to date, there was no satisfactory response.
The document details some 13 accusations against Parker, including sexual harassment of female staff of the regional administration, including Shaharazade Atkinson, a District Education Officer.
“Several of these victims were forced to leave their jobs due to Mr Parker’s harassment and improper behaviour,” the petition stated.
Parker is also accused of discriminating against Amerindian staff, including withholding of salaries and transferring staff without proper and prior consultation.
The petitioners said that the REO is refusing to accept the appointments by the Public Service Commission (PSC) of both new recruits and promotions, claiming he has no confidence in the PSC.
He is accused of dismissing staff over political differences while persons employed by the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) are warned against interacting with the Regional Chairman and Vice Chairman; both of whom were elected on People’s Progressive party/Civic tickets in the last national elections.
“Employees at present are working in fear of losing their jobs,” the petitioners stated.
Among some of the other accusations against the REO are holding unauthorised meetings in villages and demands that Village Councils report to him, while showing total disregard for decisions made by the RDC by overriding its decisions.
“Persons who have applied for jobs in the region claim they are being victimised by Mr Parker. According to our people, Mr Parker insists that they have to join the APNU party before he can recommend them for jobs. The majority of complaints come from Amerindians,” the petitioners alleged, adding that ,”When staff in the region, such as teachers, request or apply for transfers, Mr Parker also demands that they join the APNU party or else their request will not be processed.”
“Mr President, we the people of Region Nine humbly request your urgent intervention. Our people have been suffering for months and the situation has become unbearable. We can now only depend on your own good office to ensure that the Ministry of Communities corrects this anomaly and violation of rights.”
Meanwhile, on Friday, the Guyana Empowered Peoples’ Action Network (GEPAN) and The Amerindian Action Movement of Guyana (TAAMOG) wrote Communities Minister Ronald Bulkhan, advising that they have received copies of the petition.
They noted that they were informed that on Friday, Berlinda Duncan, the Amerindian mother of three who submitted the petition on behalf of 1200 other signatures, was being intimidated and forced into going to the Lethem Police Station on the said REO’s instructions.
The two Amerindian rights groups reminded that Guyana’s indigenous people are guaranteed special rights against discrimination through the Constitution, the Amerindian Act 6-2006 and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP).
“Mr Parker is being accused of violating several of these rights since his appointment to the function of REO and we now calling on you as the Minister of Communities, to rectify this anomaly by placing an REO who respects the right of all residents of Region Nine, regardless of race, gender and political persuasion.”
Parker is one of the 10 politically-appointed REOs who after the May 11, 2015 General and Regional Elections was installed in the 10 administrative regions.
Efforts to contact Parker proved futile.