New date for return of firearms to Amerindian communities

After calls by residents of several Amerindian communities, the Ministry of Public Security made an attempt to return those firearm to the villages. However, the planned trip was thwarted due to rainfall.

According to a report by the DPI a team headed by Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan and included Minster of Indigenous People’s Affairs Sydney Allicock and Minister of Public Affairs Dawn Hasting-Williams, was on site to depart the Eugene. F. Correia International Airport this morning to facilitate the distribution.

The villages which will be dealt with first are Chinoweng, Phillipai and Kamarang.

In addition to the firearms, they were also taking along 121 permits to distribute to the residents. However, weather reports coming out of the region advised against the trip, the DPI reported.

“It is important that we get there because a lot of the indigenous persons are desirous of having their firearm licenses and their firearm returned, we had a long period to ensure that their licenses are obtained,” Minister Ramjattan told the DPI.

The Minister explained that the process of returning the relinquished firearm took a while because all relevant information had to be collected in accordance with the firearm board.

“I want the people there to know from those 11 villages that we are going to make every effort as early as possible to make the deliveries,” he said.

A new date is being looked at for the distribution of the firearms.

Recently this news outfit reported that villagers of Paruima Village, Region 7 were calling for their fire arms which were seized by the Ministry of Public Security, to be returned to them.

Several years ago, Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan, announced an amnesty period for person who carry unlicensed firearm to relinquish same or face the full force of the law.

The Amerindain communities were mostly affected by this exercise. As they were promised by the Minister that the necessary steps to make their weapon of livelihood legal if they turn their guns in, they reported.

The Minister was quoted as saying, “It had to happen, those guns were illegal,” he was referring to the guns used by the Amerindians to hunt and fish for a daily bread.

Ramjattan told the media back in 2016 that the licensing for Amerindian who have guns will be fast-tracked through a partnership with the Ministry of Indigenous People’s Affairs and he noted that the licensing process will be followed expeditiously from February 2016.

The Amerindian Peoples Association noted that residents from the Paruima Village are complaining about the lack of their firearm which they rely heavily on farming for food and development.

The residents of the village noted that the Government of Guyana began the Firearm Amnesty programme which gave persons in possession of unlicensed firearms, the opportunity to forfeit them without legal repercussions, the residents noted that it was promised to them that those who adhered to the amnesty programme would have their firearms returned with the necessary licensing, however this is not the case.
The residents stressed that “it has been over two years since the end of the programme and the residents of Paruima are still waiting for their firearms to be returned.”

This situation has posed difficulties for how they support themselves now, their farmlands are now being raided by wild hogs (as well as other animals) which have led to depletions in their food supplies. Without their firearms, Paruima farmers cannot protect their crops against destruction, the APA said.
Given their circumstances, the residents are appealing for assistance from the government to address their firearms licensing and food shortages.

The people of Paruima do not use their firearms for warfare, gangs or crime. They use them as tools to support their lives and their families, the organization noted, the APA said.


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