There should be a united response to the denial of broadcasting permits

Dear Editor,

CN Sharma’s letter titled ‘Government has been fooling the people for years about introducing broadcast legislation’ (SN, March 21), is a very serious matter.

It must not be seen as just another letter for public attention, rather, it exposes a flagrant violation of human rights in Guyana – the right to share information and express fully our views. This situation requires a strong united response by every fair-minded citizen. I believe that the fair-minded constitute the majority of our population.

This refusal by government to grant permission to a citizen to broadcast his television services to Berbice, Essequibo and Linden is an abuse of power and beyond belief in a country where the very PPP boasts it has had a ‘return to democracy.’ This is a shameless slogan by our new oppressor.

The absurdity is that Guyana is possibly the only country in the free world where there is only one state-controlled radio and where only the state television, Channel 11, has countrywide coverage; all others are restricted. A hallmark of a viable democracy is not periodic elections but the delivery of justice for every citizen.

What is worrisome is how easily certain religious leaders seem to have fallen prey to this charade by the state to facilitate an interfaith television service.

Taking all the factors into account, is it naivety on the part of those religious leaders who support this, or is it plain folly?

The present pattern of behaviour by this administration on this and other issues leaves us with just a few options. One is for political parties, religious organizations, youths, academics, ACDA, professional organizations and civil society to accept that this is not about CN Sharma or Channel 9 or those who have applied for radio broadcasting permits but have been denied; it is about our fundamental rights and our dignity as a people. With one voice, we must tell the government it has crossed the line of democracy and decency, and it must correct this iniquity.

Alternatively, we should encourage groups to set up radio and television stations to cover all Guyana – I am told that the technology is not too difficult.  Let us see if the state apparatus will act against those patriots who seek justice. This year in particular all the people must be able to hear all sides of a story.

Decent people need be reminded that human history has been punctuated by the courage of a people refusing to wilt under pressure to any form of injustice or bullyism. All this needs to be done in a peaceful way.

It was Sophocles who said “Heaven never helps the man who will not act.”

Yours faithfully,
Hamilton Green JP

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