Interior conflicts require decisive Govt action- GTUC

One of the assaulted miners in handcuffs wrapped around a post
General Secretary of GTUC, Lincoln Lewis

The Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) is calling on the Government of Guyana to send a strong message of its responsibility and commitment to respect and defending the sovereignty of its country, its people and the rule of law, following the recent attack on Guyanese miners in the interior, reportedly by foreign nationals.

“…[We have] been taking note- via social and mainstream media- of the assault on Guyanese, in our own land, by foreigners who are said to be Russians or persons with Ukraine passports… And whereas GTUC calls for due process to be exercised in ensuring the rights of the alleged accused and victims, it warns that this can only be ensured when the full brunt of the law is being brought to bear in every facet of conduct. This includes, but is not confined to whether there exists a mining permit, work permit, and full adherence to the Private Security Services Act (2009),” the entity said in a statement.

Moreover, the Union lamented that the pattern of behaviour on the part of the Russians/Ukrainians in the gold mines is also being manifested in the bauxite industry.

“For instance, in June 2011 bauxite workers were threatened by a Russian spade-wielding manager who allegedly said he would bash their heads in and bury them,” the GTUC recounted, while noting that the Bauxite Company of Guyana Incorporated (BCGI) “workers continue to witness the transgressing of their rights and violating of the Laws.”

As such, the Union has posited that “clearly, these misconducts have created open season for others to follow.”

“The gold miners, whether these workers are unionized or not, must too enjoy the protection of fundamental rights. This is not a diplomatic matter to be resolved around the table; it is one that requires the Government of Guyana asserting its authority and sending a clear message to one and all, foreign and local, that the Laws of Guyana will be held sacrosanct. Whether these incidents may be influenced by political collusion or not, the unearthing facts are revealing things have gone awry and to whose interest or benefit, these must be ascertained and condignly dealt with” the GTUC asserted.

This publication had reported that two foreign nationals, believed to be Russians, were caught on video assaulting Guyanese miners and were taken into police custody after a thorough investigation was launched into the issue.

Following the incident, a probe was ordered by the Natural Resources Ministry.

It is being reported that an Investigative Team travelled to Quartzstone, Cuyuni, where the incident occurred and where the men were arrested.

The men who are reportedly employed by West Bank Demerara Gold Inc., which is licenced to operate in Guyana, are sworn Supernumerary Constables and authorised to carry firearms.

One of the assaulted miners in handcuffs wrapped around a post

However, in a statement, the Police said that “The Administration of the Force further wishes to indicate that the Supernumerary Constables in question, being employees of the aforementioned company, ought to have been attired in the prescribed uniform approved by the Force’s Administration for that Company, and not as seen outfitted, in the video footage.”

Prior to this, it was publicized that two employees of Hopkinson Mining Logistics were executing duties on their employer’s concession when they were intercepted by two operatives who made every attempt to prohibit them from doing so.

As such, a security officer of Hopkinson recorded the incident with his cellular phone.
The video recording showed a Russian operative who is known in the concession area as “Batali,” demanding documentation and challenging the two employee’s right to be on their employer’s claim and subsequently attempted to block their access.

The video showed “Batali” punching one of the men to his face and as the employee attempted to defend himself, the foreign national punched him a second time, then pulled a gun on them.

The Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID) had also obtained additional evidence of a separate incident in which the said Russians allegedly handcuffed another mining worker and tied him onto the roof of a structure and tortured him.

The worker was reportedly forced to urinate and defecate while hanging from the roof.



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