Kaieteur News – There isn’t anything in this country that surprises me. Because of that attitude I just laugh at civil society in Guyana. Civil society has been reduced to clownish perambulations that cannot miss the eyes of the nation.
Governments are not inclined to embrace the criticisms of civil society. But it is not an open and shut case. If your credibility is nationally recognized; if you have standards that are high; if you are not overtly barefaced in your double standards, there are endless possibilities that a government as a collective entity or ministers in their individual capacities will listen to you and act on the plausible alternatives you proffer.
I laughed when I read in this newspaper the remarks of the Guyana Press Association (GPA) at the recent media brunch hosted by President Ali; only laughs could have been my reaction. The GPA stated that the role of the media is “to provide factual and unbiased information to our readers and audience,” but the GPA departed from that tradition during the five months of election rigging.
The GPA issued a statement that was not only inaccurate but contextually dangerous. In condemning the very press statement in my column of Monday, February 1, 2021, “Guyana 2020: The negatives,” I wrote the following, “In 2020, it (GPA) was ignorant of what technology has brought to journalism. In the kitchen while cooking, your cousin with his/her smart phone can receive a live feed of John punching Mary in another county. Any denial of that action by the reporter will reveal the journalist’s unprofessional conduct. There are dozens of images of APNU+AFC thugs attacking journalists at both the Command Centre and head office of GECOM during the election rigging, yet the GPA issued a press release saying that political party supporters were assaulting journalists. The GPA cannot provide any footage of such assaults. It was one of the most egregious displays of the GPA since its birth. Political parties should call on it to apologize.”
It was really amusing to hear those words from the GPA at the media brunch. I remember when the GPA’s statement came out I was in the studio at Kaieteur Radio. Disbelief was the reaction by the journalists. There was no footage of any members of the opposition parties attacking the media. Like the racist basis for the killing of the two cousins in Cotton Tree by the PNC and AFC, the GPA’s cry did not make sense.
It was insulting to PPP supporters of Indian extraction to accuse them of killing two African youths out of the joy of election victory. From the time the cousins were murdered, my columns rejected that sermon. It did not make sense and it will not make sense in the future in any country. Angry supporters of parties that lose elections will target their opponents and do harm to them. Why would the victorious groups go out killing people when their party won?
During the five-month election imbroglio, there were four daily newspapers. Of the four, only the state-owned Chronicle denied that there was a conspiracy between elements in GECOM and APNU+AFC to tamper with the counting process. The other three were carrying daily descriptions on the shape of the rigging. These three newspapers were a source of relentless reporting that any foreigner could have relied on to understand how the election count at GECOM was being derailed.
It made no sense for PPP supporters to attack the reports of Kaieteur News, Stabroek News and Guyana Times. I don’t believe there can be located any footage of such incidents. But could PPP groups outside the command centre have attacked the Chronicle journalists? This would be self-destructive public relations. But it could have happened. If it did happen, why then did the Chronicle not report it?
So the GPA was doing for the Chronicle what the Chronicle was helpless in doing. There is video footage of two Kaieteur News’ journalist explaining to Leonard Gildarie how APNU+AFC supporters assaulted them after they left GECOM’s head office on Friday March 13. Both said they went back to their office and cried. The two young ladies were interviewed by Leonard Gildarie on his radio show on the last day of 2020. I was a guest on that programme and I asked both of them if they accepted that they were assaulted by thugs from different political parties. Their answer was no but thugs from APNU+AFC.
I believe the GPA is not biased in favour of any political party. But fear was the reason for the slanted press release. They did not want to invoke the anger of the PNC. But that is still unprofessional journalism.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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