Amerindian groups call on Barama to cease Akawini logging

Guyana, South America - The Amerindian Peoples Association (APA) and the Guyanese Organisation of Indigenous Peoples (GOIP) are calling on Barama Company Limited and Interior Woods Products Limited (IWPI) to immediately cease all logging operations in the titled lands of Akawini Amerindian Village in Pomeroon Region 2.

A release from the two groups said yesterday that Barama began logging in Akawini in February 2006 "ostensibly" on a subcontract it signed with the IWPI. According to Akawini Toshao, David Wilson, the Akawini Village Council has never seen this subcontract "and we were never consulted before IWP entered into this subcontract with Barama."

Barama was contacted by Stabroek News for a comment yesterday but up to press time there was no response.

Akawini has a timber harvesting and sales agreement with IWPI which expressly states that IWPI could only engage the services of a sub contractor after consulting the holder, namely the Akawini Village Council.

The press release said that the Village General Meeting (VGM) of Akawini which is the highest decision making forum for the village under the law took a decision on February 28, 2007 to terminate the IWPI agreement because of alleged breaches by the IWPI. The Village Council has since March of this year written to IWPI informing the company of the decision of the VGM to end the agreement. The council has to date received no response and the logging continues unabated. In the agreement between IWPI and Akawini, the release said, the postal address of IWPI is a home address and it has no stated telephone or fax number or email address.

"In reality, IWPI is a faceless company which strongly suggests that it is a shell or front company of Barama," the release said.

In early May, the APA represented by David James, attorney-at-law and Toshao David Wilson were invited by Swiss NGOs Bruno Manser Fonds and Society for Threatened Peoples to meet with officials of Credit Suisse and Samling Global Group of Malaysia.

The release said that at the meeting in Zurich, James and Wilson informed the officials of Credit Suisse and Samling that Barama through its purported subcontract with IWPI, is unsustainably logging the last remaining forest of the Akawini Village and in the process threatens the livelihood and violates the rights of indigenous people living there.

At the Zurich meeting, according to the release, Cheryl Yong, Communications Manager of Samling said that 55 persons from Akawini were employed with Barama. Toshao Wilson categorically refuted this and said that there are fewer than 12 persons employed by Barama who work for $17,000 a month. He also told the meeting that Barama/IWPI harvest over 20 different species of hardwood in Akawini and that Yong stated Barama only cuts peeler logs which have no commercial value to locals.

According to the release, Barama's April 2007 production report in Akawini shows that 92 pieces of Purple Heart, 31 pieces of Mora, 60 pieces of Locust, 44 pieces of Kabucalli and 92 pieces of Bulletwood amounting to 1,587 cubic metres of hardwood were harvested.

The APA and GOIP are calling on the Government of Guyana to protect the rights of the indigenous peoples of Guyana and in particular the people of Akawini.




Alternative Viewpoint:

"These groups are wrong to call on Barama to cease operations in Akawini village lands"

See http://www.stabroeknews.com/index.pl/article?id=56521171

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