Govt’s Cultural Advisor, Chronicle Director calls for “torching” of Guyana Times, Evening News/TVG

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Ruel Johnson, Cultural Policy Advisor to the Government of Guyana and a Director of the Guyana National Newspapers Limited (GNNL), which prints and publishes the Chronicle, on Monday  called for the “torching” of the Sanata Complex, which houses most prominently, the Guyana Times news, Television  Guyana (TVG) and Radio Guyana Inc 89.5.

On his Facebook page, the Cultural Policy Advisor at the Education Ministry and Director of GNNL stated bluntly, “Here’s my idea for a united Guyanese protest against impunity and tenderpreneurship – go break down all the parking meters and then proceed to torch the Sanata complex.”

Cultural Policy Advisor attached to the Ministry of Education Ruel Johnson

Johnson explicitly made the connection between the Sanata Complex, QAII, its owner and the Media Group consisting of the Guyana Times newspaper, Television Guyana (TVG) and Radio Guyana Inc (89.5), which would all be torched when he later explained in his post: “QAII metastasized into further issues like drug procurement and media acquisitions, costing taxpayers billions and resulting in untold consequences both direct and indirect.”

This is not the first time that Johnson is making discriminatory and inciting comments on social media about provoking violence. In 2016, Johnson was lambasted by Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira for a similar outburst, in which she called on Education Minister Dr Rupert Roopnaraine, to terminate Johnson’s contract. According to Teixeira, Johnson does not have an understanding of the role his position has in shaping society and is reckless in his statements. She had pointed out that the Constitution of Guyana speaks to issues of anti-discrimination and noted that a person who holds the responsibilities of culture must be sensitive to Guyana’s multi-cultural nature.

Cautioned by one respondent that he could be seen as inciting “arson and vandalism”, Ruel Johnson mocked one of the above named persons with a pejorative that he had tagged her earlier, “Of course – I’m giving a toss-up between Rima Roti and Gail Rwanda Jr.”

Meanwhile, only last year East Bank Essequibo resident, Bibi Safora Salim, who used social media to issue threatening and derogatory statements against President David Granger was charged, placed on bail and then tried by the courts. Unlike that case which was dismissed because there was no specific offence committed, according to the Magistrate, in this instance, incendiary threats to 5,520 followers to “torch” specific premises presented a clear and present threat.

Similarly, Tameshwar Beekham, a self-professed A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) supporter, was charged and fined after he issued death threats on social media against the life of former President and Leader of the Opposition, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo and other Parliamentarians of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP).

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