212-431-9098 info@rrffny.org

Tony James, the President of the Amerindian Peoples Association of Guyana, a long-time partner of the Rainforest Foundation US,is well-known both in his country and internationally for his work defending the rights of indigenous peoples. In the past few weeks, he has received a series of threats from unknown sources, which led us to fear for his safety. Together with colleagues at Amazon Watch and the Forest Peoples Programme, we organized a group letter in his support.In just two days, some 40 signatures poured in from around the world, from fellow environmental and social NGOs in the US, Europe, and Asia. We believe these are well-deserved testament to the good work that Tony and the APA have done over the years, and hope that the letter and resulting press will have a positive effect. We will be monitoring the situation closely, and will post any updates over the coming weeks and months. Following please find the letter that was sent to the President of Guyana, asking that he do his utmost to ensure Tony’s safety.

December 17, 2010

His Excellency
Bharrat Jagdeo
President of the Republic of Guyana
Georgetown, Guyana
E-mail: opmed@op.gov.gy
Fax: 592 226 9969

Your Excellency:

The following 38 organizations from around the world are writing to express our concern for the security and well-being of Mr. Tony James, President of the Amerindian Peoples Association. According to the Executive Board of APA, in a statement issued on December 10th, 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 incident, this is the first time APA has felt sufficiently concerned about Mr. James’ safety to raise the issue at an international level. We are concerned about these occurrences 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 APA and Mr. James are well known and respected in the international community at large, among indigenous organizations, NGOs, funding agencies, and government representatives. Many of us have collaborated directly and extensively with Mr. James and others within APA for years, in some cases for over a decade. We hold in high regard the organization’s activities on behalf of indigenous rights within the Guyanese national context and Mr. James’ tireless advocacy within international institutions.

We respectfully request that you guarantee the safety of Mr. James and his fellow APA members against the prospective threat represented by these recent incidents. 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. We will be paying close attention to the situation over the coming months.

Sincerely,

Amazon Watch, US
Asian Indigenous Women\’s Network, Philippines
Bank Information Center, US
Campagna per la Riforma della Banca Mondiale (CRBM), Italy
Center for International Environmental Law, US
Cultural Survival, US
E-Tech International, USA
Earth Rights International, US
Environmental Defense Fund, US
Environmental Investigation Agency, US
FERN, UK
Forest Peoples Programme, UK
Friends of the Earth, Norway
Friends of the Earth, US
Global Greengrants Fund, US
Global Witness, UK
Government Accountability Project, US
Grassroots International, US
Greenpeace International, US
Indigenous Environmental Network, US
Ingrid Washinawatok El-Issa Flying Eagle Woman Fund for Peace, Justice and Sovereignty, US
International Accountability Project, US
International Forum on Globalization, US
International Funders for Indigenous Peoples, US
International Rivers, US
Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (Indigenous Peoples Network of Malaysia), Malaysia
Land is Life, US
Pacific Environment, US
PLATFORM, London, UK
Rainforest Action Network, US
Rainforest Foundation Norway
Rainforest Foundation UK
Rainforest Foundation US
Rainforest Information Centre, Australia
Survival International, UK
Tebtebba (Indigenous Peoples\’ International Centre for Policy Research and Education), Philippines
Urgewald, Germany
World Rainforest Movement, Uruguay
Worldview, US
Randy Hayes, Rainforest Action Network Founder, US
Naupaka Zimmerman, Stanford University, US
Kimberly Carlson, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, US