Journalists under fire

GEORGETOWN — Even as tensions in conflict-ridden Linden appeared to ease, the Guyana Human Rights Association and several journalists have come under fire from President Donald Ramotar and the ruling People’s Progressive Party for allegedly fuelling further tensions.

In a statement yesterday, Ramotar denied there was “an incursion of military troops into Linden” last Friday, contrary to online media reports.

After a weekend statement from the PPP charging a number of individual journalists with making “racially-insensitive comments”, the president yesterday accused the GHRA of joining them in being the “embodiment of anti-Government hostility” in the country.

The Guyana Press Association had shot back at the PPP release, denying the charges against some of its leading members and saying the Government “will be held accountable should any harm come to any journalist, whether in the state or private media, because of this latest threat and other threats made by Government and party functionaries”.

A Stabroek News report quoted the GHRA as calling on the Ramotar administration to prevent “ministerial interference” in the work of the police force and to address “right-to-life issues” in the wake of last month’s apparent police killing of three protesters in Linden.

However, according to Ramotar’s statement, “it would seem that it is only now GHRA has come to realise what is happening in Linden and has decided to find someone to blame.

“Once again GHRA stood silent, this time watching Linden burn. GHRA found it convenient to be silent in the face of wanton destruction of property, and threats to the lives of PP members in Linden,” the statement says.

The government is yet to set up a commission of enquiry into the Linden deaths and there is wrangling with the opposition groups over its terms of reference. The opposition has also called for the dismissal of Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee and for the alleged police shooters to be charged. A motion of no confidence against Rohee has been passed in the opposition-dominated National Assembly but the government has taken no action on the issue.

The GPA is warning that journalists face the danger of becoming unwitting victims of the conflict.

“The personal attack against journalists is a well-known and detestable way to build an enemy that does not exist and may expose those persons to reprisals,” the statement said. (Stabroek News)

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