It is always worrying when in the height of a campaign of one sort or another something untoward happens to one or more of the people against whom the campaign is directed. Immediately people on the side suspect something sinister and become swayed to support the target of the campaign.
This is not unusual since most people are not violence-oriented. Recently, there has been a campaign against what people see as the unlawful operations of Bai Shan Lin, a Chinese logging company operating in Guyana.
Logging itself is not illegal unless the logger cuts down rare trees or young trees or simply log without the permission of the authorities. In Guyana there is another condition that makes logging beyond a certain scale illegal. That condition is predicated by the agreement signed between Guyana and the Kingdom of Norway for US$250 million over five years.
In the run-up to that signing, Guyana had already moved to help protect the environment against global warming. There is enough evidence to suggest that the earth is becoming warmer and the experts say that this is due to greenhouse gases from large scale industrial activities. Guyana, with its huge rainforest, offered to halt deforestation in an effort to limit the existence of these greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Experts calculated the volume of forest that could be cut in each year without affecting the equilibrium. In the wake of disclosures about the operations of Bai Shan Lin the government keeps insisting that the extent of deforestation is well within the prescribed limits. No one is supposed to dispute these facts. However, similar comments by the government have been found to be far from the truth.
For example, in its advertisement, the Guyana Forestry Commission claimed that everything done to facilitate the operations of Bai Shan Lin was prescribed by an Act of Parliament. It turned out that he misapplied the Act.
Given certain facts one will most certainly question any response provided to the media by the Guyana Forestry Commission. It is here, when the defenders appear to be caught in a quandary that distractions are created. There was one such distraction last week when someone reportedly broke into the vehicle owned by Jacy Archibald, the lawyer for the Guyana Forestry Commission.
Archibald was reportedly at the National Park for a bout of exercise at the end of which he returned to his car to find it vandalized. The perpetrator reportedly removed a laptop and other documents. The immediate reaction that the vandalism was linked to the expose on Bai Shan Lin could only be intended to distract from the real issue—the legality of Bai Shan Lin’s operations.
Suddenly there were reports of death threats against other members of the Forestry Commission. If there were these threats why were they not reported? The police said that they never got such reports. This then begs the question of whether these ‘threats’ were concocted.
The authors of the distraction are seeking to initiate a dangerous game, one that pits investigative journalists against the government. President Donald Ramotar, at a recent press conference said that the questions about Bai Shan Lin’s operations are part of an anti-investment policy. He refused to examine the legality.
Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee rather than discuss the issue, placed the investigative reporting in the light of a corrupt transaction of the media. “They probably beg for something and didn’t get it,” he said at a press conference.
Without saying as much, the government has pledged its support for Bai Shan Lin to the exclusion of everything else. One can therefore see how this recent distraction would seek to fashion a conflict between the media and the government.
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