Govt distances itself from Cultural Policy Advisor’s “torching” threat against Guyana Times, Evening News/TVG
The Government of Guyana has distanced itself from the threat made on social media by its Cultural Policy Advisor, Ruel Johnson, who called for the “torching” of the Sanata Complex, which houses most prominently the Guyana Times newspaper, Television Guyana (TVG) and Radio Guyana Inc 89.5.
Johnson, who is also a Director of the State-owned Guyana National Newspapers Limited (GNNL), which publishes the Chronicle newspaper, on Monday called for the torching of the Sanata Complex as a “United Guyanese protest”.
However, this did not go down well with his employer – the Government of Guyana – which on Tuesday distanced itself from Johnson’s comments.
A report in today’s Guyana Times said it interviewed Education Minister Dr Rupert Roopnaraine for a reaction on the matter and he promised to seek an explanation from the Ministry’s Cultural Policy Advisor on the threat. Referring to such a comment being made as “strange”, Roopnaraine made it clear that such comments were not reflective of the Government or its views.
“Certainly not! I don’t know where that came from or what it’s about. When I see him, I will ask him. It was brought to my attention and I would like an explanation on it,” Dr Roopnaraine commented.
On Monday, the Cultural Policy Advisor posted the comments – which also included a call for the destruction of the recently implemented but controversial parking meters. He stated: “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.”
Johnson explicitly made the connection between the Sanata Complex, QAII, its owner and the media group consisting of the Guyana Times newspaper, TVG and Radio Guyana Inc. (89.5) which would all be torched.
When contacted on Tuesday, Guyana Press Association (GPA) president Neil Marks made it clear that such a serious allegation should be reported. According to Marks, the GPA would wait for the outcome of any probe stemming from the report.
Meanwhile, a Police report has been filed by the head of security at the media entity with the Police Criminal Investigation Department (CID) on Tuesday.
In Chapter 8:01 of Guyana’s Criminal Law (Offences) Act, Title four, Section 35, the charge of ‘Attempt, incitement and threat’s applies to “Everyone who, in any case where no express provision is made by this Act, or by any other written law for the time being in force, for the punishment thereof, attempts to commit or incite or attempts to incite any other person to commit felony not punishable with imprisonment for seven years or more, or any misdemeanour under this Act shall be guilty of a misdemeanour and liable to imprisonment for one year.”
In Section 36, the Act goes on to cite that in cases where the felony cited incurs imprisonment of seven years or more, the act of incitement carries imprisonment for two years. According to the laws of Guyana, arson is an indictable offence usually carrying a minimum sentence of three years and a maximum of five years.