Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Why was Gordon Moseley's GPA silent when CNS 6 aired recording which called for religious disunity?

Statement by Gail Teixeira, Presidential Adviser on Governance, Office of the President

NOT surprisingly, Gordon Moseley, as head of the Guyana Press Association, has responded to comments made at the PPP/C Rally in Kitty on Sunday October 9th, and, predictably, has taken comments made there out of context.
The GPA statement has plucked out sections of President Dr. B. Jagdeo’s and Ms Teixeira’s speeches conveniently, so as to peddle their line of misinformation. Both President Dr. B. Jagdeo and Ms. Teixeira alluded to the Rwandan experience and reminded the audience about the inciteful role of certain Guyanese media houses in past elections, and the threat of ethnic and religious disunity and violence due to recent events which led to the suspension of a particular station, and the biased and untruthful reporting by certain media houses and their operatives.
It is an indisputable fact that certain media in Rwanda orchestrated and incited the violence which led to over 800,000 people being massacred there. These media owners and operatives have been charged, many have been found guilty, and others are awaiting trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
It is an indisputable fact that some media operatives and stations in Guyana called for ethnic violence in the 1997 and 2001 elections, resulting in the Bi-partisan Committee which crafted the broadcasting policy that is now enshrined word for word in the new Broadcasting Act 2011.
It is an indisputable fact that media operatives such as Enrico Woolford and Moses Nagamootoo, members of that committee, actively participated in the wording of that policy to ensure that the experience of those elections would never be repeated.
In recognition of this risk, the Media Code of Conduct in 2006, and more recently, its 2011 version, the establishment and defined role of the GECOM Media Monitoring Unit in the 2006 elections, and again for the 2011 elections, all emanate from that period, and place the onus on the media houses and their operatives for responsible and professional coverage of national and regional elections in Guyana.
Both codes uphold the constitution and laws of Guyana which prohibit racial and ethnic hostility, inciting people to ethnic violence, and the vilification of any religion. Ironically, the GPA is not concerned nor has it been offended by statements by a particular politician at two ACDA public meetings who is stoking racial insecurities and threatening violence after elections.
Is this because the threat is not against the same sacrosanct media houses and their operatives? Why is it that the GPA is not offended by the recording which called for religious disunity and pitted Hindus against Pentecostals and Catholics? Or is Mr. Moseley pretending to be so blind as not to see that this is how it started in Rwanda and other countries such as Kosovo? Ironically the GPA, and one assumes that the GPA means all its members and not just Mr. Moseley, fails to rein in its own media operatives, some of whom feel that they are impervious to criticism or correction. The Fourth Estate is the media, and it shoulders the responsibility to ensure that the people are given information that is balanced and that there is fair comment. Some media houses in Guyana do abide with these principles and others willfully feel they are above reproach.
Rwanda opened the eyes of the world that the media was not sacrosanct, and it too had to be held accountable as it did not have a license to be irresponsible and reckless with peoples’ lives.
Guyana is a democratic nation. Freedom of the press and freedom of expression are upheld in the constitution and in practice, but these are not absolute rights. The rights of journalists are respected, but these rights do not place them above the constitution and the laws of the country; they are held accountable to those same statutes as all citizens.
Whilst it is true that no media is running in elections, it would not be considered passing strange for observers to conclude that some nakedly assume the role of the Opposition parties in these elections. Noteworthy is the omission in the GPA statement, or subsequently, to any reference to the postponement of the suspension of the television station license until after the elections and the salient reasons given at the same rally.
The Government of Guyana will not stand idly by and allow any one to fan the flames of ethnic and religious disunity in Guyana. It calls on all media houses and their operatives to act professionally, report accurately, and provide the public with balanced information in keeping with the 2011 Media Code of Conduct, the Guyana Constitution and the laws of Guyana.
Furthermore, the government intends to take steps to alert the United Nations on the threat that is being posed to peaceful elections by certain media houses and their operatives, and call for an independent investigation.

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