Sat | Oct 23, 2021

Chief Currie wants peace, but prepared to fight

Militant Maroons want dialogue with Government

Published:Friday | August 13, 2021 | 12:08 AMAdrian Frater/News Editor
Accompong Maroon Chief Richard Currie.
Accompong Maroon Chief Richard Currie.

WESTERN BUREAU:

While his preferred option is for peace, Chief Richard Currie, the head of the Accompong Maroons, says he stands willing and ready to fight to defend the sovereign rights of the people he was elected to lead, serve, and protect.

In a video recording, seemingly in response to recent statements by National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang and Senior Superintendent Stephanie Lindsay, the head of the Jamaica Constabulary Corporate Communications Unit, challenging the Maroons’ sovereignty over their ancestral lands, Currie made it clear that he is committed to defending the interest of his people.

“I must inform the entire Jamaican public that I do not seek permission to defend my people. It is my duty to defend my people, and it should be the duty of any leader to do the same,” he said. “ … It is my fiduciary duty and there is no power on Earth – temporal or spiritual – that can separate me from my duty and my undying love for my people.”

In a recent incident, the Accompong Maroons got into a kerfuffle with police officers who entered their community and tried to destroy a ganja farm. The police were challenged by the Maroons, who declared their actions illegal based on their interpretation of the 1838 treaty with the British government, which gives them sovereignty over their lands.

However, in defending the police’s action, Lindsay said the police were on official duty and had a right to enter the Maroon enclave, which she says is officially part of Jamaica and, therefore, under the jurisdiction of the police.

In a subsequent radio interview, Chang not only came out commending the police but also declared that to his knowledge, “there is no such thing as Maroon lands”.

While he believes that the Accompong Maroons are standing on solid legal grounds as it relates to their sovereign right over the lands, Alex Moore-Minnott, minister of foreign affairs and diplomacy for the Accompong Maroons, says his preferred option is to settle the matter with the Jamaican Government through dialogue instead of heading straight to court.

Additionally, Moore-Minnott said that while the Jamaican Government appears uncertain about the rights of the Maroons as indigenous people, esteemed bodies such as the United Nations, the Organization of American States, and event the British Crown recognise their sovereignty.

“We know that we are in the right, and we have the documentation and the application on international laws on our side … . We don’t see the Jamaican Government as our enemies. In fact, we see all Jamaican people as our brothers and sisters, so it would be in our collective interest to settle this matter amicably,” said Moore-Minnott. “The Mayans were faced with a similar land situation recently, and it was resolved in their favour.”

Moore-Minnott pointed to a speech made by Asif Ahmad, the former British High Commissioner to Jamaica, recognising their sovereignty in a ceremony in Accompong two years ago.

“The reason for being with you is to honour and remember that firm treaty that my predecessors made with you 281 years ago. Yes, there were times when we broke our promise … . In this world today, we should remember the sanctity of treaties between sovereign nations, and we should never forget when one country gives its bond to another. People are watching, history is watching, and we have to remember every diversion from that,” Ahmad said at the time.

As for Chief Currie, he is simply urging the Government to pursue a path of peace.

“This was not land we beg for. This was not land that King George II gave to us but rather land that we possessed from pre-historic times,” noted Currie in championing the proud heritage of his ancestors. “… I urge the Government of Jamaica to keep the peace and allow me to look after my people in peace and to allow my people to live comfortable in this our ancestral homeland.”

adrian.frater@gleanerjm.com