GEPAN PRESS RELEASE: IN SUPPORT OF THE PETITION AGAINST REGION 9 REO
The Guyana Empowered Peoples’ Action Network (GEPAN) lends its full support to the twelve hundred (1200) petitioners who are demanding the immediate removal of the current Regional Executive Officer (REO) for Region 9, Carl Parker.
We also strongly condemn the efforts made by the REO’s office to intimidate the Amerindian woman, Mrs. Berlinda Duncan, who signed the petition on behalf of the twelve hundred (1200) other signatories. GEPAN understands that since last night, Thursday 14, pressure was being placed on Mrs. Duncan to force her to present herself at the Lethem Police Station. Mrs. Duncan stated that a Councilor from Aishalton conveyed the message last night, that there was need for her to go to the police station need to “verify” the petition.
GEPAN further understands that a District Development Officer (DDO) appeared at Ms. Duncan’s home in Awarewanau at approximately 9h00 today, summoning her to travel with him to Lethem for the said purpose.
We commend Mrs. Duncan for standing her ground and refusing to obey the order which is in direct violation of her democratic right to petition. Mrs. Duncan has done nothing illegal in petitioning, and her action does not warrant the type of intimidation she and her family are being subject to.
GEPAN welcomes the support of The Amerindian Action Movement of Guyana (TAAMOG) and its President Mr. Peter Persaud. We share the concerns of the residents of Region 9 who have been speaking out in vain against the exactions committed by the REO in violation of their rights.
We therefore call on the Minister of Communities, Hon. Ronald Bulkan, and the Government of Guyana to intervene as a matter of urgence in resolving the situation of conflict which has been plaguing the Rupununi for almost a year.
GEPAN also calls on other national and international civil actors to provide their support to the Amerindians of Region 9 and the brave petitioners who dared to stand up for their rights.
EXTRACT OF PETITION LETTER TO WHICH GEPAN WAS COPIED
“We the aggrieved citizens of Region #9 hereby seek the immediate removal of the appointed Regional Executive Officer (REO), Mr. Carl Parker. Several letters of complaints were written to various Ministries of Government to investigate the REO’s lack of professionalism and misconduct, but to date we have received no satisfactory response.
We the people of Region 9 accuse Mr. Parker of the following:
- Discriminating of Amerindian staff, including withholding of salaries and transferal of staff without proper and prior consultation.
- Refusal to accept the appointments by the Public Service Commission of both new recruits and promotions. Mr. Parker claims he has no confidence in the Public Service Commission.
- Dismissal of three Amerindian staff of the Regional Democratic Council due to personal and political differences.
- Meddling in the affairs of Amerindian Village Councils. For example, Mr. Parker holds unauthorized meetings in villages and demands that Village Councils report to him.
- Disregard for Toshaos and Village Councilors. For example, Mr. Parker summons Toshaos and Village Councilors to his office at his convenience, instead of going out to meet them in their respective communities.
- Continuous interference in the duties and functions of the Regional Chairman’s office.
- Refusal to reimburse fuel costs to Village Councils for the use of their vehicles when transporting patients and students to and from hospitals and Secondary School Dormitories.
- Persons who have applied for jobs in the region claim they are being victimized 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.
- 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”