Press body, PM roast Jagdeo
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Leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo
Leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo

…warn him against attacks on media workers

PRIME Minister, Moses Nagamootoo and the Guyana Press Association have blasted former President and Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo, for his constant attacks on members of the media.

The GPA said it views these continued attacks as encouraging threats to the lives and livelihoods of its media professionals and media houses. His most recent attack on the profession came in the form of an attempt to deflect from answering questions, as he quipped the question posed by journalist Nazima Raghubir as “stupid”.

The opposition leader’s attacks over the months have been documented by the GPA, the association said, adding “these are consistent with attacks he made in the past as a sitting Head of State from political platforms. These were and are not limited to referring to journalists as ‘Carrion crows and vultures’ and ‘opposition media’ and singling out media houses.”

According to the GPA, over the months, Jagdeo has referred to private media outlets as “fake news”, “biased news”, or “government aligned news”. He is also on record saying that he will call on his supporters to boycott one newscast and its parent company. He has singled out the privately owned Kaieteur News and state-owned Guyana Chronicle and former GPA President, Gordon Moseley, accusing him of being “government aligned”.

“Jagdeo’s comments are complemented by equally vitriolic and dangerous statements carried on his personal and party social media pages. In two recent posts, a news entity was referred to as “fake news” and a journalist as a “propagandist”, both of which have attracted negative and threatening comments. “The GPA recognises that the hierarchy of the Jagdeo party supports these attacks as we note its continued silence on Jagdeo’s attacks on the free press and freedom of expression. We wish to remind this Jagdeo-led party that a free press, whose work is done without hindrance and attacks, is among the basic tenets of democracy that the party preaches about.”

“We will hold Jagdeo accountable if any harm is brought to our colleagues in keeping with his attacks. If these attacks continue, we will not hesitate to call on our members to boycott press events involving the leader of the opposition. Additionally, we stand by editorial sanctions media houses see fit to take in response to any continued attacks on the press. At this time, the GPA would like to remind all political parties, politicians and personalities, that journalists have a right to conduct their duties without fear of intimidation.”

Meanwhile, Prime Minister, Nagamootoo has also condemned the recent attack on Ragubir.
The prime minister, in an invited comment, stated: “I have noted the attack on the GPA President and other journalists by the Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo, and elements of his party junta. Journalists must be allowed to practise their profession without fear or harassment.”

“Calling the GPA President ‘stupid’ is not only gender persecution, but an attack on journalism and press freedom. This type of intolerance has led invariably to the assassination of journalists and economic sanctions against media houses, and should not be tolerated in Guyana,” the prime minister pointed out.

In his recent ‘My Turn’ Column dated March 3, 2019, in the Guyana Chronicle publication, Prime Minister Nagamootoo pointed out a recent news conference by Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, who scandalously labelled sections of the non-government media as ‘paid press’.

“That was the period when journalists were labelled as vultures and carrions; when a journalist was assassinated and another jailed for five years after being tried for treason. Then an out-spoken media critic was doused with fresh faeces at a time when no one thought that a journalist could be dismembered, a la Jamal Khashoggi,” prime minister wrote. The Guyana Press Association (GPA), in a press statement dated March 11, 2019, condemned the continued attacks by Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo, on media professionals.

Prime Minister Nagamootoo, who was the former Vice-President of the International Organisation of Journalists (IOJ) and a founder of the now-defunct, Union of Guyanese Journalists, offered his solidarity to the GPA President and her colleagues, and expressed confidence that: “The coalition government will not allow the intemperate attacks to muzzle journalists.”

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