Press freedom is in danger

Dear Editor,

It is time for the Guyanese people to rise and take note of what is happening to their rights of free expression and the public right to be informed.  Recent events are troubling, and present a multiplying and grave danger for the free press in Guyana.  First, Mr CN Sharma informed the moderators of ‘Keeping them honest’ that the programme was discontinued at the request of “the relevant authorities.”  That was followed by a report by Mr Sharma that he is being harassed, and the “authorities” want to dictate who appears on his privately owned television channel.  Then the focus of the authorities was expanded to include Mr Denis Chabrol, the owner of the online news outlet Demerara Waves.  The PPP, in a press release labelled ‘Demerara Waves pro-opposition’ claimed that, like Stabroek News and Kaieteur News, that news source was anti-PPP.

Editor, these moves by the government to suppress press freedom are a direct breach of Article 146 of the Constitution of Guyana.  We have clearly entered a very dangerous time when “the authorities” are dictating who can and cannot appear on the airwaves, and party officials have press releases that blacklist news outlets.  We the people must see this for what it is, and take the necessary steps to rescue our Republic.  The people of Region 10 (Linden) are already victims of this rigid media control and suppression of information.  We must send a strong message to the Minister of Information to retreat from the independent media, and if these dictatorial methods continue we must be prepared to act. With only one radio station and the government already controlling most of the airwaves, Guyanese cannot afford any more assaults on our already shrunken and fragile freedoms.  We must be vigilant, especially in this, an election year.

The voices of all the people must be heard, freely, without fear of persecution or prosecution.

Yours faithfully,
Mark Archer

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