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A total of 38 organisations from around the world have written to President Bharrat Jagdeo, asking him to guarantee the safety of Tony James, the President of the Amerindian Peoples Association (APA).The APA recently expressed concern about what it said appears to be threats to James’s life by unknown persons, but President Bharrat Jagdeo last Wednesday accused the APA of making misleading claims in order to get funds.“Should the APA report another incident of unknown persons looking for Mr. James or any other situation perceived as threatening, we would request that you launch an impartial and thorough investigation into the situation,” the 38 organisations said in a December 17, 2010 letter to Jagdeo.The APA two Friday’s ago said it was deeply concerned that the apparent threats to James have occurred at a time when the Association has been advocating strenuously for the full respect and protection of the rights of the indigenous peoples of Guyana in national policy and programmes including the Low Carbon Development Strategy and REDD Plus.“At various times in the past, Mr. James has been cautioned by persons to ‘watch his back’ because of what they would have heard at various times concerning his safety but never took this to mean anything,” the APA stated. “The organisation however feels at this time that the threats should no longer be disregarded.”The APA called on the Government and state of Guyana to do all in its power to ensure the security of its citizens as they go about their work and in exercising their constitutional rights.The organisations noted that there have been multiple incidents over recent months in which unknown people have come asking about Tony’s whereabouts. In one instance, an unknown woman noted, “they want his head; they want him dead.”Though these are not the first of such kind of incidence, this is the first time the APA has felt sufficiently concerned about Mr. James’s safety to raise the issue at an international level, the organisations noted in the letter to Jagdeo as seen by Kaieteur News.The organisations that have written to President Jagdeo include Friends of the Earth (Norway), the Center for International Law in the US, the Indigenous People’s Network of Malaysia, the World Rainforest Movement, based in Uruguay, Urgewald of Germany and the UK and US branches of Rainforest Foundation.The organisations said they are concerned about the threats to James based on similar experiences in other contexts.“Surveillance and attempts to locate human rights defenders are often a precursor to more serious repression with the objective of silencing their voices,” the organisations said.They said the APA and Mr. James are well known and respected in the international community at large, among indigenous organisations, NGOs,Wholesale Jerseys Store, funding agencies, and government representatives.The organisations said they hold in high regard the APA’s activities on behalf of indigenous rights within the Guyanese national context and Mr. James’ tireless advocacy within international institutions.Last week,NFL Cheap Jerseys, President Jagdeo launched a scathing attack against the APA, when he was asked about the concerns of the Association regarding the threats against James and the APA’s criticism of the LCDS.President Jagdeo said he didn’t even have a clue who the president of the APA is, and suggested that the Association “might not be very happy because we’re diminishing the source of their funding from abroad.”He accused the APA of having to paint a picture that there is “this big bad government” and that on that basis they raise a lot of money.The local Guyanese Organisation of Indigenous Peoples (GOIP) yesterday said that the allegations of threats on the life of James, a former Toshao of Aishalton, “are most disturbing” and said if the objective of such dastardly acts is to suppress indigenous militancy which Mr. James and others fearlessly represent, the GOIP knows this will fail.“Though still largely vulnerable, quiet and gullible,Wholesale NFL China Jerseys, the GOIP warns that indigenous Guyanese shouldn’t be taken for granted,Wholesale Jerseys China,” the GOIP stated.The organisation said that since 1990 a few GOIP leaders, some now deceased, faced death and other threats over positions they took on various issues. This happened particularly after the GOIP was involved in protest demonstrations over,Cheap Soccer Jerseys, for example, the Omai Cyanide spill, the inadequacies in the Amerindian Act, the Timehri Airport name-change,NHL Jerseys Authentic, the Yanomami Massacre and a planned land rights march from the Rupununi to the coast.The GOIP said that most of these took place in the 1990’s in collaboration with other NGO’s.“Based on these experiences, the GOIP therefore has reason to believe such threats should be taken seriously,” the GOIP stated.“Ex-Toshao James has been outspoken in his advocacy campaign on issues such as the unresolved land rights claims, and this would obviously annoy those who seek to perpetually dominate the lives Guyana’s indigenous minority,” added the GOIP.The GOIP called for a competent and impartial investigation into the death threats purportedly made against Mr. James, and urged that the rule of law be upheld at all times.
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