Kaieteur National Park ‘militarisation’… Chenapau residents feel threatened by soldiersBy Lakhram BhagiratThe heavy military presence in the Kaieteur National Park (KNP) is due to a “temporary operation” dealing with alleged mining in the reserve, according to Protected Areas Commission (PAC) Board Member Raquel Thomas-Caesar.In a Facebook post, Thomas-Caesar said, “…we don’t want the world to know we are going in as they would run away…there is mining in the park and there is a monitoring operation for a period (not permanent)…everyone knows this is a very sensitive issue for Chenapau Village and for the Gov’t and we all need to sit together as I have told Chenapau Village Council and work this out. Issues are sorted when people work together. This KNP has had a difficult history and there are some key issues to address.”Ranks of the Guyana Defence Force questioning two men who made their way from the Kurourung areaHowever, the residents of Chenapau Village, Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni), are up in arms against the operation since they are being prevented from traversing the generations-old trail through the Park. Village Chief Edward Mc Garrell said that residents feel threatened by soldiers sporting AK-47s and intimidating villagers accessing the Park.“People are feeling threatened because they cannot come and continue their livelihood meaning fishing, hunting, gathering within the park whereas there is a section in the park saying we got the right as Amerindian,” he said.“With the military presence in the area, we feel threatened, really threatened because we cannot continue our customs in the Park. I see no demarcation of the Kaieteur National Park and that is a stance I have been taking and we respect the signboard as the Park and all the members of my community respect the signboard as the Park,” he added.President’s orderA few weeks ago, President David Granger ordered the Guyana Defence Force, the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission and the Guyana Police Force to commence an operation to combat illegal mining in the protected park. During the operation, 21 residents of Chenapau were arrested while on the ancestral trail, none were caught mining, and they were brought to Georgetown where they were charged. President Granger, as an act of “goodwill” later instructed the dropping of the charges.The residents vehemently deny mining in the KNP, noting they have a much deeper emotional connection to the Park since it was their tribe that settled there. Toshao Mc Garrell said since the arrests the villagers have been suffering since the atmosphere was now fear-filled.“We have that right to pass through the Park at any time we want to go and gather even medicinal weeds; we cannot do it anymore because if we go into that bush, the military will arrest us and take us to Georgetown. The struggle is on and we are prepared to fight it, because the community is united and we are fighting for what is right for our people; the Government must recognise Kaieteur as a sacred site for us the Patamona nation,” the Patamona leader informed.Military base?This publication journeyed to the region to ascertain the facts associated with the villagers’ claim and upon arrival, was greeted by heavily armed members of the Joint Services, who have set up camp at the Kaieteur National Park Arrival Centre. It is unclear whether approval to set up camp was granted by the PAC, and efforts to confirm this proved futile.Tourists accessing the Arrival Centre were prevented from going to sections of the upper viewing balcony since it was being used to store military equipment and hang laundry. They were immediately greeted by boxer shorts on the rails upon entering the viewing area; some suggested it was the newest addition to the scenery.To get a better understanding of the effects of the restrictions, Michael Mc Garrell of the Amerindian Peoples Association took a personal trip to the area to investigate the complaints coming from the villagers. He told this publication the heavy military presence in the area only confirmed the villagers’ allegation of militarisation. “What this demonstrates is that Kaieteur is now a militarised zone and that the military have control of what is happening here and it is very unfortunate for us as a people to be going through something like that because Kaieteur was not intended to be something like this,” he said.He added that the area has now become a battleground between the military and the villagers since their rights were being violated without any consideration from the authorities. “The amount of control the military have here is disturbing. There is the Arrival Centre and the military have control of that. Is that what we want to show the world? Is that what people are coming to Kaieteur for, to be greeted by army personnel with AK-47s? Is this what we are promoting? Is this what we are showing the world? Kaieteur is not about that; we want the Army to be pulled from this location with immediate effect,” the Chenapau native said.Economic implicationsThe economic implications of the restrictions are clearly visible in the village, since almost all activities are at a complete standstill. The villagers are puzzled as it relates to the Government’s plans for their survival because they cannot hunt or fish.The villagers, particularly the women folk, are especially concerned about their next move when food and money run out.“We have to farm, fish, hunt or mine to provide for our families and right now we can’t farm because of the flood and now the soldiers come in here to harass us. What will we do?” Linda Williams related.Williams also said that the soldiers and, by extension, the administration were treating the villagers as though they were “bush hogs” by taking bread out of their mouths. The angry woman called for the President to ensure that they are allowed to access the traditional trail to prevent them from starving to death.“On the sign board it is stated that indigenous have all rights to go hunting, fishing and so forth and now they have a new law that we cannot encamp, pass by or anything. It is our main passageway to go elsewhere; if we are restricted from doing these things then it can lead to many things like violence, so we need Government to do something about it, because we cannot live in this way,” resident Greg Marco said.The President is yet to make a comment on the issue that has been in the public’s domain for approximately one month.
The victory marked Liverpool’s best start to a season since they won eight league games in a row in 1990-91.Klopp’s red-hot men have now won seven successive matches in all competitions this term.Southampton manager Mark Hughes, now without a league win in 12 visits to Anfield with six different teams, admitted the second half was simply “damage limitation” for the Saints.And Klopp was happy to welcome another unexpected milestone on his team’s journey.“I lost seven games in a row once, that felt different! But then we won game number eight 5-0, very cool,” he said.“It’s a surprise, but all the performances we showed so far were good enough to win the games.“Different challenges, different styles of opponent, the boys were there, really in the situation and in the game.”Klopp was also able to offer good news on the only possible downsides on the day for Liverpool, the half time removal of Xherdan Shaqiri and the second half substitution of Virgil van Dijk, who left the pitch clutching his ribs.Klopp revealed Shaqiri’s early substitution in his first Liverpool start was purely tactical despite his involvement in the build up to the first goal – his shot hit Shane Long before going in off Hoedt – and his superb 25 yard free-kick against the bar which led to Salah’s tap-in for the third.“I said to Shaq at half time that I’d never taken a player off at half time after such an influential half,” Klopp said.“He was not injured, but I wanted to control the game, go back to our normal formation, and that helped us.”The Swiss international understood the decision, according to his manager.“He’s a fantastic boy so there was no problem. I explained it to him, usually I don’t explain substitutions but I thought today it made a bit of sense,” Klopp added.“It’s just good to have him. You saw the free kick, it was outstanding. What a ball!”– Cutting edge –Van Dijk, said Klopp, aggravated bruised ribs which he carried into the PSG game in midweek.“He had already before the PSG game kind of a bruised rib, which is very uncomfortable, and today he got another hit there,” he said.“It’s not cool, but should not be too serious.“He said he couldn’t shout any more, so that’s obviously 60 per cent less of his level!”Klopp’s 600th competitive game as a manager saw Liverpool extend an impressive home league record, unbeaten now in 18 games and 17 months at Anfield.No opposing player has even scored here in the league since February, with Liverpool scoring 23 in the same period.While the Saints enjoyed some promising moments they could not find the cutting edge to worry their opponents.The second half was rather a non-event with Salah’s disallowed finish after James Milner’s shot was cleared off the line the closest Liverpool came to adding gloss to the scoreline.Hughes thought 3-0 was harsh on his side but added: “We faced a quality side today. We’re not the first and won’t be the last not to cope with their attacking threat.“We didn’t really give ourselves a chance in the opening period, we were too easy to create chances against though we were unfortunate with the opening goal.”The victory ended a positive week for Liverpool with a third win after a statement victory against top four rivals Spurs at Wembley last weekend and the breathless, late victory against Paris St Germain in the Champions League.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000Mohamed Salah was on target in Liverpool’s win over Southampton © AFP / Paul ELLISLIVERPOOL, United Kingdom, Sep 22 – Jurgen Klopp admitted Liverpool’s flying start has surprised him as they won their sixth successive Premier League game to return to the top of the table.The comfortable 3-0 victory over Southampton at Anfield was wrapped up by half-time on Saturday courtesy of an own goal from Wesley Hoedt, Joel Matip’s header and Mohamed Salah’s simple finish.