In the wake of an attack on the media by President Jagdeo and the recent threat by Gail Texiera of reporting certain media houses to the United Nations, GTUC urges government to go right ahead without delay. We are assured that the blanket control and domination of state media, restriction of broadcast licenses, suppression and intimidation of independent media, economic destruction of the media by targeting of advertisers to deny media freedom, use of the media as a wedge to divide society and create ethnic tensions and violence as well as disseminate PPP propaganda, will make for interesting analysis before an independent arbiter of the United Nations. Additionally the consequence of fear of expression forces media self censorship in order to survive ;job losses and increased prices also result as media houses increase prices to offset advertisement suppression would make for interesting disclosures. These too relate to efforts and consequences of media suppression that the UN would be interested in.
GTUC has a direct interest in media freedom as this is foundational to free, fair, transparent and credible elections and forging a society where the rule of law and good governance can prevail. It is the media’s role as a pillar of democracy to protect the rights of every citizen and where necessary expose those who violate the laws of the land and the rights of others. The PPP government clearly does not desire that their activities be exposed for they would prefer that Guyanese live in ignorance of their misdeeds and corruption, their lies, nepotism and their criminal associations such as Roger Khan.
The issue at hand is that we have a government that is consistently failing to positively execute its duties and create the kind of environment conducive to positive reporting for their behaviour is inimical to the interest of the collective. “Guyana is a democratic nation,” because the PPP says so. They expect no one must question the true meaning and development of this so called democracy that is nothing more than a façade for a ruthless, uncaring elected dictatorship that believe and act as though they are above the law and constitution.
The journalist of this country must be brave; they must continue to do their work as gatekeepers of our society, as protectors of our constitution and of our people without fear of a Jagdeo tongue lashing, veiled and overt threats to person, life or livelihood. In dictatorships and narco states journalists exposing the other side are seen as a constant threat to the status quo and many have had their lives snuffed out. The unsolved murder of Ronald Waddell must be remembered.
We cannot continue to operate in the 19th century as the world spins in the 21st century. Media control and state media dominance are values of socialist, communist and other such regimes. If 30 years ago the Guyana government of the time exercised such authority it was in keeping with the socialist ideology which was known and declared in our constitution and popular throughout half of the world particularly among states newly independent from colonial rule and looking for an alternative system of development. Today the PPP claims democracy yet embrace socialist/communist ideology on the role of the media. This duplicity is unacceptable and backward. The dominant world today is fashioned on democratic principles and Guyana must have no choice.
The PPP is themselves prepared to undermine the democracy they fool us with and is prepared to create the environment to silence our voices and the media feigning protection of democracy.
Gail Texiera seeks to paint the picture of the PPP being the victim of the media when it is the reverse and we the citizens of this country live in perpetual fear of the PPP Nazi-like tendencies and Machiavellian governance that is counter-productive to national development, peace and internal stability. The PPP in their usual dastardly way of pinning their crimes on others attempt to equate independent media “certain media houses” with creating the environment that led to Rwanda. GTUC reminds them that Rwanda did not start with media fuelling the flames of divisions and urging ethnic cleansing, but with divisions created in the minds of men who sought to oppress and deny others their freedoms and executed the most heinous crimes on a vulnerable group to achieve their ends. Rwanda is a symbol of what governments that disrespect rule of law, human rights and the peaceful coexistence and rights of other to occupy the same space as them inevitably do to the nation. The PPP if unstopped now, if not held accountable now, if not stopped from being in control of every social and political space in this country, if not forced to respect the rights of all to peacefully co-exist, enjoy equal access and benefits from the resources of this country will further usher in rule akin to that which led to the state of Rwanda.
Rwanda is a symbol of power gone crazy and the PPP is demonstrating that they are a threat to unity, internal stability and freedom. The case of a young boy, being thrown in the lock-ups for days for sticking his finger in the air, at the president, is a lesson of power gone crazy. So too is the case of Mark Benshcop who mercifully survived 5 years of his young life in grossly inhuman conditions of the camp street jail and Frederick Kissoon being taken to courts to silence him, the closure and constant harassment of CNS 6 owner. Guyanese must know that the lessons of Rwanda are many and that Rwanda speaks to a psyche that has no value for human life and the rule of law. The death squads unleashed on this nation leading to hundreds being murdered, the failure of this government to utilize international support and their undermining of the UK security reform project to help in crime fighting even as Guyanese citizens were being murdered and affected by rampant crime are symbols of the psyche of those in power being similar to those in Rwanda. GTUC reminds this nation that Rwanda did not happen over night but took decades of oppressive development and silencing of a people vulnerable to the excesses of government.
Our journalists and media houses must embrace the lessons of Rwanda. They must remember that it is thanks to the free and fearless media that the world became aware of the violations of a section of the people of Rwanda. By then millions of lives were already lost, in jeopardy, permanently damaged and scarred, babies and children were violated, raped and many had a life of death and dying as their childhood was taken away and they became child soldiers. Women were violated and families destroyed.
GTUC calls on all media workers to uphold the tenets of independence of journalistic fearlessness and balance not as defined by the PPP but which are universal. Journalists must not be silenced by the perception that reporting negative when negative is a reality is a violation of the universal definition of balanced reporting which is what they should be bound by. The concentration of our journalists and all media houses must be on factual reporting and presenting all sides of the story. Our journalists have a huge responsibility as agents of change, for it is you who must help to turn Guyana away for the path of self destruction to one where the rule of law and Rights are paramount. It is you who must bring messages of truth to this society, to minds moulded by PPP lies, propaganda and deceit. GTUC stands behind every journalist, every media house, and not just “certain media houses” prepared to bring truth, decency, law and order, accountability and the absence of fear, lawlessness and dictatorial governance to Guyana.