Hoyte apologises for state media abuse at Congress Place

Starbroek News
January 14, 1998

Leader of the People's National Congress (PNC), Desmond Hoyte, has apologised to members of two state media who were roughed up and denied entry to a press conference held by his party at Congress Place yesterday.

A press release from the state owned Guyana Television Broadcasting Company, GTV 11, said that its news team, which attempted to attend the press conference to which they had been invited by the PNC, was physically threatened by persons at Congress Place.

According to the release when the news crew arrived at the first gate at congress place the guard on duty opened the gate and allowed the vehicle through. However, crew members were stopped at a second barricade where the vehicle number was taken and the names of its occupants given. According to the release, when the team identified themselves as being members of GTV 11, the guard "slammed back the barricade" and told the crew to get out of the compound. The journalists said that they were told that their kind were not wanted at Congress Place and that their presence was "undesirable."

The release further stated that the company's vehicle was immediately surrounded by people inside the compound. Insults and profanities were hurled at the news team and the mob begun to hit and shake the vehicle. The news team was forced back through the gates after members of the crowd picked up stones and threatened to break the glass of the vehicle.

According to the release, as the news team was leaving members of the crowd were heard saying "People like y'all should dead. Get out we ain't want y'all." GTV 11, stressed that it received several invitations to the press conference by fax and telephone.

Before the start of the scheduled press conference, Hoyte offered his sincere apologies to the media members. He said he understood that GTV 11, was denied entry to the press conference and that a reporter from another state-owned medium--the Chronicle--was manhandled by persons who were acting without lawful authority. In reiterating his apologies, he said that his party was accessible to all media. He said that there was no order to exclude any media from the press conference. His sentiments were echoed by the party General Secretary Aubrey Norton.

The GTV release said that a similar situation ensued on Monday when a crew attempted to cover the proceedings at the Square of the Revolution. The release said that when contacted, someone at the public relations office of the party said that the party was not responsible for the actions of persons inside its compound, claiming that there was a "lot of anger out there." The state-owned television station further alleged that it was not the first time that members of the Six o'clock News and GTV had been threatened by supporters of the PNC. In its demand for an apology from the PNC, the television station had threatened to boycott all PNC press conferences and to ignore all releases from the party.