04-03-2013 Written by Denis Scott Chabrol, Demerara Waves Online News, Guyana
Even as the board of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission prepared to meet in emergency session on Tuesday, one board member feared that brutality by one policeman would setback efforts to curb illegal mining.
“The industry is at a stage where it can only go forward in the best way and one person set us back how long and we have an uphill task again,” President of the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA), Patrick Harding told DemWaves Online News (www.demwaves.com).
He also said the country’s international image of police human rights abuses against Amerindians could would be tarnished.
Police confirmed that a team of investigators were Monday dispatched to Marudi, southern Rupununi to probe the conduct of a policeman who brutally beat a number of men, a woman and her child. A senior official of the Amerindian Peoples Association (APA), Tony James confirmed that one the child’s ankles was fractured.
While the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment has said that the GGDMA has been asked to provide support to the probe, Harding up to late Monday said he had not seen such a request.
Video footage shows the police manhandling the men who were bodily shielding the woman and her child. When the corporal’s efforts failed, he was seen cutting a whip from a nearby tree which he used to beat them about their bodies.
Those assaulted were part of a group who had blocked a trail leading to Marudi where a large number of Guyanese and Brazilians have been mining illegally on an exploration concession granted to the Canadian company, Romanex.
“We condemn this act by the police, whether it (mining) is legal or illegal, they have no right to do that but we support the police and the GGMC in their effort to curb illegal activities in the mining communities,” he said. “The man acted illegally…everyone saw he went into the bush cut a whip to beat these people and kick them, that’s brutality.”
The police were accompanying Mines Officers of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) as part of Operation El Dorado to rid the area of illegal miners. GGMC officials have said that the miners there have been smuggling all of the gold to neighbouring Brazil.
The GGDMA President said his association has been on a countrywide outreach urging illegal miners to cease operations or regularise their operations wherever that is possible.
He was also upset that other persons, including other police and the Mines Officers, stood by without assisting the victims.
Police mercilessly beat several including woman, child in Marudi mountain
03-03-2013 Written by Denis Scott Chabrol, Demerara Waves Online News, Guyana
Several policemen were Sunday in hot water in connection with the brutal beating of several persons including a woman and her young child on a trail to the gold bearing area of Marudi, Southern Rupununi.
At least two men and the woman and her child were taken to Aishalton Hospital for treatment, according to Vice President of the Amerindian Peoples Association (APA), Tony James.
Telephone contact with that remote interior area is virtually impossible. Demerara Waves Online News (www.demwaves.com) was told that officials were meeting with residents at Aishalton to discuss the incident.
Police Commissioner, Leroy Brummel said the Divisional Commander has been instructed to carry out a thorough probe. Policemen senior to those allegedly involved in the incident are conducting the investigation after which the policemen who were on the operation would be brought out to Georgetown and possibly placed on close arrest.
“It doesn’t look good. From what I am hearing, one of the child’s feet might have been broken,” Brummel told Demerara Waves Online News (www.demwaves.com). The video, which was apparently secretly recorded, can be seen here.
The persons, who were engaged in the physical encounter with the police, were alllegedly blocking the trail to prevent Mines Officers from the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) and police from continuing "Operation El Dorado" to rid the area of illegal miners.
The APA official explained that the area was previously assigned to Vanessa Mines and now Romanex for several decades but little or no work was being done and the concession was left virtually idle.
Eventually, according to the former Toshao, coastlanders entered the area with excavators and other types of equipment to mine for the precious yellow metal.
James said that from what he has observed the area is a free-for-all and there is no monitoring of people entering the Amerindian settlement.
Well-placed sources said President Donald Ramotar's recent visit to the area where he promised to allocate a number of the illegal miners concessions might have exacerbated the situation.
Though the sources were sympathetic with the level of brutality meted out to the the persons, the officials noted that the miners were engaged in widespread illegal activities by mining gold and smuggling it to neighbouring Brazil rather than selling it to the government and paying the required taxes.