POSTPONEMENT OF LAUNCH OF PROGRAMME FOR THE YEAR FOR PEOPLE OF AFRICAN DESCENT--PRESS RELEASE Tuesday 18th January 2011




The Peoples National Congress Reform wishes to inform the public that it fully supports the call by the authentic African organisations in Guyana for the postponement of the proposed Government launch date of 16th January, until a mutually agreed upon, “National Programme for the UN's Year for People of African Descent” is agreed.

In response to a letter, dated 15th January 2011, to the Leader of the Opposition, but, which was delivered to his home last evening, 17th January 2011, inviting him to, “deliver the Remarks at the 2011 Opening Ceremony” of the International Year for People of African Descent at the National Convention Center on 19th January 2011, Mr. Corbin urged the Government to act responsibly so that the real objectives of the United Nations designated Year are accomplished.

Instead of addressing the legitimate concerns raised by African Guyanese organisations, in a letter to them dated 10th January 2011, the Government, using the old Slave Master Strategy of divide and rule against African ancestors, whereby they created house slaves versus field slaves, the Ministry of Culture began approaching individuals within the African Guyanese Community to participate in the so-called launch in the hope of advancing the propaganda that African Guyanese groups have been involved. Having had their invitations declined, they then sent the belated invitation to the Leader of the Opposition.

The PNCR states categorically, however, that it will not attend any State sponsored programme for the UN Year for People of African Descent, much more speak at one, unless the expressed concerns of legitimate African Organisations are addressed. Moreover, the Party encourages all Guyanese to lend solidarity to the call of these organisations not to participate in any charade until a mutually agreed upon, “National Programme for the UN Year for People of African Descent” is agreed.

Contrary to the impression given in the Editorial of 18th January 2011 issue of Kaieteur News, there is no confusion in the African community about this year’s events or its significance, The editorial is, however, correct when it states that,

“Something had to be horribly wrong for the government to single-handedly plan a year of activities for Afro centric people in Guyana. Even if the United Nations expected governments to take the lead, there would have been the need for national consultations.”

The Editorial was also misinformed when it states that black groups and organizations could have fashioned a programme for inclusion in whatever the government intended. The writer ought to be informed that as far back as October 2010, one such organisation, Civil Society Committee For International Year For People of African Descent, submitted their proposals for the observance. The letter was forwarded by Brother Noah Yahshuarun, of the Organisation of Descendants of Enslaved and Manumitted Africans Reparation Trust on behalf of this Civil Society Committee which was later legally registered by Trust Deed No 1316 dated 2nd November 2010. Needless to state, to date, there has been no indication to them of the status of their proposals. Such was the fate of one group that sought to assist the so-called National Committee, despite they were not afforded a formal invitation,

AND, while there was no adequate Press coverage of the event, this Organisation launched the Year with an appropriate Programme on 31st December 2010 at the Girl Guides Pavilion at which several Guyanese, including the Prime Minister was invited.

Guyanese of African descent will not be confused. If indeed the PPP/C Administration refuses to engage in proper consultation for a Nationally agreed Programme, the Organisations will have no alternative but to arrange an independent programme of their own.

The PNCR, therefore, wishes to release the letter sent by the Leader of the Opposition to Mr. James Rose in response to the belated invitation delivered last evening, 17th January 2011.

Please see the Opposition Leader's letter attached with other supporting documents.

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia
Georgetown, Guyana
Tuesday 18th January 2011

Visit our website @ www.guyanapnc.org and www.pncrguyana.com
Facebook Profile: http://www.facebook.com/pnc.reform



January 18, 2011

Dr. James Rose
Director of Culture
Ministry of Culture, Youth & Sport
94 Carmichael Street,
Georgetown.


Dear Dr. Rose,

I wish to acknowledge receipt of your letter, dated January 15, 2011, but, which was delivered to my home last evening, January 17, 2011, and seen by me at around 10:00 PM, inviting me to, “deliver the Remarks at the 2011 Opening Ceremony” of the International Year for People of African Descent at the National Convention Center on January 19, 2011.

Quite apart for the ambiguousness of the term, “the remarks” in the context of a launching ceremony of a programme not seen by me, and, the obvious belated decision to send an invitation, I wish to bring a few matters to your attention in the hope that your Department, and, indeed the Ministry of Culture and the Government of Guyana, would show some respect for the people to whom the Year is dedicated.

This is the first communication that the PNCR and I have received from you or the Ministry of Culture on the issue of the UN declared International Year for People of African Descent and it is quite unfortunate that it arrived after public statements by me and the PNCR on the issue and your public response denying the allegations.

The PNCR and I stand by the truthfulness of our Press Statements of January 9 and January 13, 2011, respectively, copies of which are attached for ease of reference, and call upon you to address the substance of the issues raised therein.

I am also aware that you received a letter sent by the major African organizations, (“The Committee of African Organizations”), to Minster of Culture Youth & Sports and to Dr. James Rose, in your capacity as Chairperson of the Group which put together the Government’s Program for the UN Year for People of African Descent. The letters were hand delivered on Monday 10, January 2010 after a meeting of 41 individuals representing over 20 African groups including ACDA, the Pan African Movement (Guyana Branch), which is the oldest African organization in Guyana, and, the All African Guyanese Council which was formed eight years ago.

These organisations expressed general displeasure with the process used to create the Government’s Program as it did not properly consult with major African groups, organizations and African stakeholders in Guyana. They recommended the postponement of the proposed Government launch date of January 16, until a mutually agreed upon, “National UN Year for People of African Program” is agreed. Apart from an acknowledgment of receipt of their letter from Dr. Anthony’s secretary, I am reliably informed that there has been no response to date. As a consequence those organisations, in a public statement, asked all self respecting African organizations to support a process in which there is full and informed consultation with all major recognised African organizations. The statement emphasised that,

“*The process for developing the Program for the UN Year for People of African Descent was and is FUNDAMENTALLY FLAWED.

*The process was CONTROLLED BY THE GOVERNMENT and not by groups who are actively advocating for AFRICAN RIGHTS which is what the UN designated the Year FOR People of African Descent is all about.

*The created Program and Budget do not support the “SPIRIT AND INTENT” of the UN’s Proclamation.

*The Program for the Year is ONLY KNOWN by the Government as it was approved by Cabinet with a Budget and this is NOT PUBLIC INFORMATION.”

I am also aware that, instead of addressing these legitimate concerns raised by African Guyanese organisations, your Ministry, using the old Slave Master Strategy against African ancestors, sought to divide and rule, (house slaves versus field slaves), by approaching individuals within the African Guyanese Community to participate in the so-called launch in the hope of advancing the propaganda that African Guyanese groups have been involved.

It is in this context that your belated invitation to me must be considered. I wish to state categorically, however, that I will not attend any State sponsored programme for the UN Year for People of African Descent, much more speak at one, unless the expressed concerns of legitimate African Organisations are addressed. Moreover, I would encourage all Guyanese to lend solidarity to the call of these organisations not to participate in any charade “until a mutually agreed upon, “National UN Year for People of African Program” is agreed

It is also important to place on record that the concerns of African Guyanese Organisations about the manner in which the Government sought to manipulate the programme are not new. In fact, this dissatisfaction led to the establishment of a Civil Society Committee for the UN Year for People of African Descent since October 2010, which was later legally registered by Trust Deed No 1316 dated 2nd November 2010. That body wrote the President and the Minister of Culture of their concerns, but to date, they too have been ignored, even after making detailed submissions to your committee.

I have seen the letter sent since October 2010, from Brother Noah Yahshuarun, Head of the organisation, Descendants of Enslaved and Manumitted Africans Reparation Trust, in his capacity as Coordinator of the Civil Society Committee For International Year For People Of African Descent, which submitted their proposals for the observance. Needless to state, to date, there has been no indication to them of the status of their proposals. Such was the fate of one group that sought to assist the so-called National Committee, despite they were not afforded a formal invitation

Should there be any claims that the letter from this group was not seen, no such claim can be made of their Press Statement of October 5, 2010. That statement , a copy of which is attached, emphasised that:

“The Member State Committee has dominated the meetings and has refused to accede to ideas which were reasonable and of benefit to Descendants of Enslaved and Manumitted Africans.

The present position is that there is not a final proposal and budget for submission to the Minister at this seventh month with only two months remaining. The observance of the International Year for People of African Descent in Guyana is heading for a disaster unless something serious is done by the Government of Guyana to avert the looming disaster. We call on the Government, the business community and civil society at large to intervene.”

It would appear that their prediction is now being manifested.

The PNCR, an Organisation with acknowledged major support of Guyanese of African descent, expects that you and the Government would begin to act responsibly so that the real objectives of the United Nations designated Year are accomplished.

At the personal level, unless you were deliberately seeking to solicit this negative response from me, one would expect that courtesy would have demanded that the proposed programme of events for the launching ceremony would have, at least, be forwarded to me at the same time as the invitation. Never the less, in the absence of an agreed Year programme, I must decline your invitation for reasons already stated herein. I wish, however, to urge you to respond to the concerns of the majority of organisations of Guyanese of African Descent.

Yours sincerely,

...............................

Robert H O Corbin
Leader of the Opposition &
Leader of the PNCR