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In a statement to observe the day, Dr Bisnauth said: “Government is committed to development policies and programmes that will benefit every segment of our culturally diverse and plural society, with benefits to all at the expense of none. Its action plans envisage an inclusive society, in which all are equal; and in which diversity is perceived as an asset and not as a threat.”
The Minister further noted that Guyana has ratified the International Labour Organisation’s Convention on Discrimination in Employment and Occupation, and has even enacted labour legislation that prohibits racial discrimination in employment.
“These legislative acts flow from governmental policies that abhor discrimination on any ground, let alone that of race or ethnicity,” Dr Bisnauth said.
He noted that yesterday was the 43rd anniversary of the Sharpeville
Massacre in which 69 peaceful demonstrators against apartheid were killed by South African security forces.
That tragedy, Dr Bisnauth said, heightened the sensitivity of the world community to racism.
“That heightening of sensitivity notwithstanding, we cannot say 43 years later, that racial discrimination, xenophobia, hate and the intolerance based on ethnic considerations are things of the past. Indeed, in some parts of the world since then, racial discrimination remains embedded in the social, economic and political fabrics of the society; these structures remain to be dismantled. With that dismantling will come the unearthing of many a root cause of violence and hostility if not war.
“In some countries, too, it is very obvious that the poorest of the poor are to be found in groups identifiable by race or ethnicity. These are the people who have restricted access to education, health facilities, employment and movement up that social ladder,” the Labour Minister noted.
Dr Bisnauth concluded his message with these words: “On this International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, let us pledge to intensify efforts to build a Guyana that is free from the evil of racism, practised covertly or overtly; let us pledge to unearth, identify and condemn the propagators and practitioners of racism as we work together to build a unified nation with a common destiny. And, let us pledge not to allow ourselves to be manipulated by those who would use the insecurities related to racism to their evil selfish advantage at the expense of national unity and peace.”