Pressure mounts on PPP govt for attacking journalists, as PNCR member F-bombs Chronicle reporter

Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 April 2023, 20:35 by Denis Chabrol

Less than one week after a group of civil society activists castigated the Guyana government for attacking media workers who ask questions that they dislike, a senior People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) member on Wednesday F-bombed a Guyana Chronicle reporter.

A Partnership  for National Unity (APNU) Chief Scrutineer, Carol Smith-Joseph has sparked off a fresh round of condemnation by the Guyana Press Association (GPA)of the political directorate for what now appears to be a commonplace practice of going after media workers who are perceived as their opponents.

Chief Reporter Tamica Garnett was greeted with an intense barrage of the “F” word when she identified herself, that she was calling on behalf of the Guyana Chronicle, a State-owned and government controlled publication,  and the reason for her call. “You from the Guyana Chronicle? No darlin. F Chronicle. You all don’t F…… call my phone. You all is too biased. F… you,”  the politician told reporter.

The GPA condemned Ms Joseph’s “expletive-laced” outburst on Ms Garnett and demanded an apology from the APNU/PNCR leader Mr Aubrey Norton. “The GPA calls on Mr Aubrey Norton, who is the PNCR Leader, Chairman of APNU and Guyana’s Opposition Leader to publicly apologise to Ms Garnett and issue a commitment that his party would not subject members of the media to such acrimonious and indecent outbursts by any of his members or supporters more so at the senior level. Failure to do so would certainly make him complicit at minimum,” the GPA said.

That association said Ms Garnett was not only the subject of mental abuse but she was potentially put at risk of physical harm. “The brutal psychological attack on Ms Garnett is yet another such example that puts at greater risk journalists and other media workers in the course of the performance of their duties,” the GPA said.

In light of recent attacks and criticisms of Kaieteur News reporter Davina Bagot and journalist Nazima Raghubir by a pro-PPP Facebook page soon after displeasure had been expressed about their questions by President Irfaan Ali and Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo. “This attack on Ms Garnett marks a new low in relations between the media and the political directorate in Guyana. It is now apparent that the transgressions against the media by the People’s Progressive Party and the PNCR/APNU is the one common feature both political parties share,” the association said.

In a letter t0 the editor, 25 civil society activists lampooned the Guyana government for taking aim at journalists whose questions did not find favour by the incumbent administration. “There appears to be a deliberate orchestrated campaign on the part of the State to silence and isolate those who ask reasonable questions and those who dare to express an opinion contrary to the powers that be. What is alarming about this spate of attacks is that it indicates a growing level of intolerance which is a hallmark of undemocratic societies. Attacks on journalists doing their job of ensuring accountability and transparency of public and state authorities and institutions are unacceptable and are strongly condemned as are attacks on environmental justice and human rights defenders and on ordinary Guyanese exercising their constitutional right to freedom of expression, association and information,” they said in a statement.

The activists asked the High Commissioner for Human Rights to take note of the attacks on the journalists, freedom of expression and media freedom.

The Working People’s Alliance (WPA) political party earlier this week expressed solidarity with Ms Bagot and Ms Raghubir. “We stand with the Guyana Press Association and all our colleagues in the journalistic fraternity… We stand with them and we condemn it in the most strongest way,” party executive member Tacuma Ogunseye said.

The Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM), of which the GPA is an affiliate, was expected to issue a statement in solidarity with the Guyanese journalists who were victims of cyberbullying and verbal assault.