The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) said it supports the view that “press censorship” is alive and well in Guyana. “The facts attest to this reality,” the party’s General Secretary Clement Rohee told reporters at a news conference this morning.
“Increasingly, persons of various political hues and shades are voicing their concerns and reservations over the role and content of the state-controlled Chronicle newspaper. Press censorship is being driven from the office of the Prime Minister in particular and the Ministry of Presidency in general; the vehement denials notwithstanding,” Rohee declared.
According to him, examples abound across the board.
Rohee said the People’s Progressive Party is the only political Party that hosts a weekly press conference at which one or two press statements are read and subjected to questioning by journalists present. The statements are promptly sent electronically to all media houses.
“Off-the statement questions are encouraged at Party press conferences. Quite often, it is the off-the statement responses to questions posed by journalists that are carried in certain sections of the media and not the contents of the official press statement,” Rohee posited.
He noted that apart from press statements read at press conferences, press releases are issued in between press conferences. “These statements and/or releases are usually either edited or never published by the Guyana Chronicle, the Kaieteur News nor the Stabroek News,” Rohee charged.
He said this is a truth which none of the editors of these newspapers can deny and a fact which they don’t seem to have the courage to explain, save for political censorship.
What censorship basically does is to deny Guyanese readers another view apart from the official view which appears to take pre-eminence over the non-official view including those of the PPP, the party’s General Secretary charged.
He recalled that when the PPP was in office, “press censorship was virtually non-existent save for a few occurrences which cannot be described a press censorship”.
“Censorship is the suppression of speech, public communication or other information which may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, politically incorrect or inconvenient as determined by government, media outlets, authorities or other groups or institutions.”
Reading from a prepared text, Rohee stated: “The PPP takes this opportunity to remind editors of all media outlets of the Declaration of Chapultepec; The Declaration not only commits to permanently seeking the truth, demanding freedom and tolerance, but also commits as to respect standards and ethical criteria in communication. Both the definition of press censorship and the Chapultepec Declaration remains relevant and applicable to the current situation in Guyana with respect to the media in general and the state media in particular.”
He said the sitting Minister of Information (Moses Nagamootoo) must remember the words he wrote in 1992 in an article entitled: “Party paramountcy a pernicious doctrine still hanging over the state media”
In that article, he wrote: “The pernicious Burnhamite doctrine of Party paramountcy still hangs like a sword of Damcoles over the state media.”
Rohee said from all indications, “we seem to be returning to the Burnham era where press censorship is concerned and where fear is the weapon being used to pursue that agenda beyond the state media. Guyanese must fight this disgusting and contagious blight before we all come to realize, ‘too late, too late is the cry!’.”