Amerindians deserve a public holiday
January 15, 2004
The Amerindian Action Movement of Guyana (TAAMOG) is once again appealing to the Government of Guyana to grant a public holiday in recognition of the contributions by Guyana's first peoples, the indigenous peoples of Guyana, to our nation state.
It must be noted that at various fora, indigenous peoples have been calling on the government to grant them a public holiday in their honour without success. It must be noted also that a Special Select Committee was established by the National Assembly to receive submissions from the Guyanese public on the review of public holidays so as to include as Public Holidays - Indepen-dence Day on May 26 and Arrival Day on the May 5 to be celebrated the following day if these dates fall on a Sunday.
TAAMOG is not in any way in opposition to Indian Arrival Day being declared a public holiday, but is alarmed and indignant over government's reluctance to consider the granting of a public holiday in honour of Guyana's Indigenous Peoples.
TAAMOG is contending that while government claims that the whole of September is dedicated to the Indigenous Peoples of Guyana, this does not qualify for recognition where the distribution of public holidays along ethnic lines is concerned. Further, Guy-ana's indigenous peoples are the descendants of the original inhabitants of Guyana and their present numerical strength qualifies them to be the third largest ethnic group in Guyana after the East Indians and Africans.
TAAMOG is of the view, therefore, that the Parliamen-tary parties on both sides of the House should agree to an extension of the date for written submission by the public on the review of public holidays so as to include "Indigenous Peoples Day" on September 10 as a public holiday.
In this regard TAAMOG recommends the withdrawal of Republic Day from the list of public holidays and to have the republic programme celebrations fit into our independence celebrations in May. After all the severing of ties with our colonial master has greater meaning and relevance to our nation state.