Saturday, November 12, 2005

Power, hard to handle?

Talking about power-abuse and suppression has always been a tricky thing. One moment you're a victim, the next one you can be the perpetrator. It's wise to also take the next issue in account.
Amerindian fury at discrimination
Amerindians in Guyana have said they are being racially discriminated against by the country's two main ethnic groups, Afro and Indo-Guyanese.
These claims of racial discrimination come against the backdrop of a long history of strife between the two main ethnic groups which make up the majority of GuyanaÂ’s 700,000 citizens.
The Amerindians, Guyana's indigenous people have taken their claims of sexual, social, economic and political exploitation to the Ethnic Relations Commission.
Toney Jones, the Chief of Chiefs for Upper-Takutu/Upper Essequibo Administrative Region in southern Guyana nearer Brazil told BBC Caribbean Radio the alleged sexual exploitation of Amerindian females by Afro and Indo Guyanese, who they call coastlanders, is a major problem.
"When these police from outside - even our own indigenous brothers - come here, we need to know if they are single or if they are married," he said.
"Because they come here and say, 'I don't have a wife' and the next thing you know three or four children will come and the woman is left with the children for her to fend for them and this is not fair."
This raises the issue of whether the Amerindian women who are allegedly exploited are underage or are adults are engaging in consensual sex.

Education campaign
Ethnic Relations Commission chairman Juan Edghill said the allegations will be investigated but he doubts whether the Commission can do much if two adults have agreed to sexual intercourse.
He believes that much will depend on public awareness and education, targeting the Amerindian communities.
"That will be out of our jurisdiction. We can't get into adults' lives and tell people who to sleep with or not to sleep with," he said.
"If you like the headmaster or the police officer, the ERC can't come in and determine that if itÂ’s consensual," Edghill said.
"But if it's a case that we're seeing a widespread situation where men come in to communities, make children, disappear and it's a burden on the social services of that community to take care of those children then education and internal mechanisms would have to be approached, it canÂ’t be an ERC approach."
Mr Jones said the Amerindians are also tired of being exploited by politicians in the run-up to general elections a time he calls the 'Mango Season'.
His comments come as the country gears up for the 2006 General Elections and politicians are visit Amerindian communities to try and secure votes by making promises and showering communities with gifts.
"Politicians come here and all you hear is 'who bad, who this, who that' all the time in our communities, election after election," the Chief of Chiefs said.
"What you find is you have a divide, so in between elections, we're ok but when the elections are coming near, the divisions begin and that is not a healthy situation."
The Chairman of the Ethnic Relations Commission wants to see this practice come to an end, and urged the Amerindians to cast their votes based on issues.


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