Jun 19, 2016 News
By Kiana Wilburg
Finding the intellectual authors of the grenade attack on Kaieteur News some weeks ago will be an important test of Government’s commitment to protect press freedom, says outgoing Deputy Chief of Mission, Bryan Hunt.
He made this remark as he reflected on the incident which took place on June 4, when Kaieteur News staffers and publisher, Glenn Lall, were attending a wake for Dale Andrews, a staff member who died suddenly.
Hunt said, “Let me first of all offer my personal sympathies to Lall and the staff of Kaieteur news. What happened to him should not have happened to any civilian anywhere in the world whether one is associated in the media or not.”
“No one should be subjected to having a military grade weapon thrown at their vehicle. We should all thank God for whatever reason the grenade did not explode and that Lall is still with us. We absolutely offer our sympathies. It was a heinous act.”
The US diplomat said that the Government has done the right thing in opening up an investigation, in making efforts towards trying to determine who were the persons involved in the crime and having them placed before the courts.
Hunt said that the government is correct also in trying to ascertain who the intellectual authors of the crime are.
The top US official reiterated that the coalition administration is doing the right thing and stressed that, “It will be an important test to the government’s commitment to ensuring justice when it comes to people who threaten press freedom especially in such a manner.”
Since the incident occurred, the coalition administration has condemned it, deeming it to be a wicked and dastardly attempt by certain “intellectual authors” to cause grave harm and terror.
The government in a strongly worded statement said that it is alarmed by the act of domestic terrorism which was attempted against the newspaper and it stands resolutely in defence of press freedom in Guyana.
The government expressed its relief that no one was hurt or damage caused to any property. It said, nonetheless, that such a cowardly attack must strengthen the resolve of the citizenry that evil, in all its forms and incarnations, must not be allowed to prevail and must be relentlessly and uncompromisingly conquered.
The coalition administration said, “We do not believe that the dropping of a grenade, even if a fake device, alongside a newspaper publisher’s vehicle could be considered a joke or a hoax. It was grave and an undisputed act of terror designed to intimidate, harm and create fear.”
The APNU+AFC administration said that it is committing its full support to the Guyana Police Force as it investigates “this sickening attempted act” of terrorism.
“Kaieteur News is one of Guyana’s leading independent media organizations that has a proud and zealously guarded reputation for fearlessness in reporting government excesses, corruption and abuse of power, particularly under the previous administration.”
“Most recently, the newspaper has been at the forefront of aggressively and relentlessly reporting on the findings of the many audits of state agencies, the revelations that have oftentimes been explosive. This attack comes against the background that Kaieteur News, its staff and its owner have been subject to relentless assaults under the previous regime.”
The Government recalled that on several occasions, this newspaper had been a victim of terrorism under the previous regime.
It reminded that it was under the previous administration that five Kaieteur News pressmen – Eion Wegman, Richard Stuart, Mark Maikoo, Shazim Mohamed and Chetram Persaud – were heartlessly slaughtered in August 2006 in what was the worst attack on the media in the history of this nation.
The government recalled that Kaieteur News’ leading columnist, Frederick Kissoon had faeces thrown at him in a case which recently had a major breakthrough with regard to identifying the long suspected perpetrators and intellectual authors.
The administration also recalled that the Kaieteur News publisher was targeted by the tax authorities and it was later exposed that the said authorities were under political direction to so do.
Vehicles attached to former Government officials were also seen casing or scoping and videotaping the Kaieteur News premises in the past. The government reminded that the former regime had at one time banned all state ads from being printed in this newspaper.
Also, the Government said that a former government official was heard on audio recording issuing threats of a violent and deadly attack on Kaieteur News.
The statement said that the nation has emerged from those times of oppressive press intimidation and attacks and all must ensure that Guyana does not plunge back into those dark and evil days.
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