APNU/AFC supporters target media during elections recount coverage
…endanger life of Guyana Times/Evening News cameraman
Several members of the media fraternity have been targeted by supporters of the APNU/AFC coalition as they provide coverage of the ongoing national recount outside the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC) at Liliendaal, Greater Georgetown.
On Friday a cameraman attached to the Times Media Group (TMG), who was assigned to provide coverage of the recount, was taking footage of the coalition supporters, who have been camping outside the Conference Centre daily. On the APNU/AFC Facebook page, the Guyana Times/Evening News cameraman was posted and captioned: “PPP/C sends cameraman to stake out APNU+AFC”.
Editor-in-Chief of the Times Media Group, Tusika Martin has since expressed her outrage over the attack on a member of her staff, noting that this could direct hostility towards him especially during this period when political tension is high in the country. She added that media workers have over the past months, faced much hostility and threats over their coverage of the elections, and such an action by the persons posting on the APNU/AFC Facebook page has endangered the life of her member of staff.
Martin reminded that freedom of the press is protected by Article 19 of the United Nations Declaration. The editor subsequently called a senior Government official to lodge an official complaint about the issue and he pretended it was not him but rather someone else answering his phone. She was nevertheless assured that the post will be removed. However, the company has since sought legal advice and has also informed the Guyana Press Association (GPA).
In fact, GPA President Nazima Raghubir indicated that she spoke with senior coalition member, Christopher Jones, about this incident and further pointed out to him that this is a continued assault on media operatives.
Only on Thursday, a group of media operatives including several senior journalists had a confrontation with some coalition supporters at the National Aquatic Centre when they went to use the washroom facilities there. The supporters were preventing the media workers from accessing the washroom facilities.
Prior to the commencement of the recount at the Conference Centre, GECOM’s Public Relations Officer, Yolanda Ward, had informed reporters that arrangements were made for the media to have access at the Aquatic Centre.
Since the March 2 elections, media operatives both local and foreign, who have been covering the events which have unfolded, were being assaulted verbally and in one case, almost physically by supporters of the APNU/AFC coalition.
This occurred on the evening of March 13 when embattled Returning Officer, Clairmont Mingo declared the contentious results for Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica). Reporters who were attempting to access the GECOM Headquarters at High Street, Kingston, after being invited by the GECOM PRO, were met with insults and threats by coalition supporters, with one reporter almost being physically assaulted.
Over the past weeks, these supporters continue to gather at GECOM Headquarters where the seven-member Commission held almost daily meetings in preparation for the national recount and continued to harass representatives of rival political parties as well as civil society members.