Tony Vieira's Comments
18 October 2017


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Suspension of Sharma's License
(Aired 5 October 2011)

    I was waiting for this matter between Sharma and the ACB and Jagdeo to be resolved before I said anything, since using me as an excuse they were trying to deprive the opposition of a conduit for their voice to further rig the upcoming election even more than I outlined in my commentary which was aired on channel 9 on 11th June 2011.

   Now I am forced to address it since this matter has been forced into the realm of the ridiculous and abuse of power by Jagdeo.

    When the advisory committee on broadcasting was formed it was clearly established that the Minister responsible for Information would act in accordance with the recommendations of the ACB. And under Sam Hinds there was not much trouble.

    Currently before a court in this country there is an injunction restraining the ACB from operating since the main opposition party is alleging that they had withdrawn their representative Ron Case from the ACB by letter to the president since 2003! So since the injunction has been granted and the validity of the ACB challenged since 2003, there should be no ACB operating in Guyana any time after 2003, unless the judge in the matter rules otherwise.

   Enter king Jagdeo he claims in a press release dated June 1st 2011 that the Advisory Committee on Broadcasting had recommended to him as minister responsible for information/ broadcasting what action to take  on the day before the injunction was granted in our court i.e. they told him what to do since May 31st which was that Sharma's license should be be suspended for 8 months,  8 days days after the recommendations were allegedly sent by the ACB, Dr. Luncheon writes Sharma inviting him to respond to the complaints by Edghill to the ACB, Luncheon tells Sharma in this written letter 8 days after they were allegedly in possession of the ACB's recommendation on this matter, that he was required to provide an explanation for the uncensored contents of the commentary on or before the 13th June,  and Sharma by letter dated 13th June responded,  but when Jagdeo and his AG met Sharma and his wife who was not allowed to bring their own legal counsel to this first meeting the Jagdeo never told them that the ACB had advised him to suspend their license for 8 months [that came later] but at the first meeting at which the Attorney General was present Jagdeo told them that he is investigating the matter, this is a breach of the law; the ACB must tell him what action to take and he must do it, nowhere in the law does it give him the authority to investigate the matter, it was only at the second meeting on September 30th months after he terrorised this man and his wife that jagdeo told the Sharmas that that he had investigated the matter and decided that he will vary this suspension to 4 months rather than the 8 month suspension as recommended by the ACB, as usual Jagdeo was putting on his good guy act, he engineered this entire nonsense against this man and kept him in terror for several months, then he tells him that even though the ACB recommendation was for 8 months he will only suspend him for 4 months, but this is again illegal the law says that he must do what the advisory committee on broadcasting tells him to do; so by varying the suspension term he broke the law again.

      The devious nature of these acts raise serious questions of the timing of this suspension if jagdeo had suspended Sharma for 4 months starting from the date he was told to do so by the ACB he would have been off the air June, July, August and September in other words he would have been back on the air for the elections since he would have been on by October; but by delaying this suspension for so long Jagdeo has deliberately denied the opposition Sharma's station for October, November and December the election period and this is the entire reason for all of these shenanigans; he wanted an excuse to remove Sharma from the air for the elections and so all of this delaying claiming that he was investigating which is illegal was a ploy simply to prolong the start date of the suspension in October to deny  the opposition access to channel 6 during the election period. Oh what a tangled web we weave when we try to deceive.

   Jagdeo  then gets these two terrified people, Sharma and his trembling and crying wife at their first meeting to accept the following; 1. The broadcast was not in good faith? 2. That it incited racial hatred and could have led to public disorder? 3. That Sharma and his wife Savitri did not exercise the caution necessary to comply with their license and censor their programmes? 4. that Savitri Sharma at their first meeting with the king offered to see to it that CN Sharma would be excluded from any other relationship with CNS 6TV! 5. That no further commentary by me will be aired on channel 6.  6. She also agreed to unequivocally censor her channel in all programmes; all of this is illegal no broadcaster should ever, no matter what the circumstances, agree to prior censorship like this.

   Heartless person he is Jagdeo unimpressed, told them that the matter was beyond Sharma and and Edghill since he had read the transcript extensively and found the contents reprehensible to our constitution, again a lie since our constitution guarantees freedom of speech. Ladies and gentlemen freedom of speech is not what this USSR poorly trained economist says it is, in 1977 Guyana signed the International Covenant of Civil and Political rights which the PPP ratified in 1993, by signing this international covenant the government of Guyana was supposed to place within its laws provisions to enforce the rights contained in the covenant, in our case there is ample evidence that the governments, all of them since 1977, have sought to deprive us of these rights rather than enforce them.  Our article 146 does not carry the full rights of article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, but it should, since we signed agreeing to it.

   Under the International covenant on political and civil rights it is stated that freedom of expression constitutes one of the essential foundations of a democratic society subject to the prescribed exceptions in the covenant it is applicable not only to information and ideas that are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive but to those that offend, shock, or disturb. Such are the demands of that pluralism, tolerance and broadmindedness without which there is no democratic society [ Sunday times V united Kingdom (no.2) judgement of the European court of human rights 26th November 1991 series A no 217, paragraph 50.

    The case of libel Jagdeo v Freddie Kissoon et al currently before our courts contains, in the evidence delivered so far, some very disturbing suggestions that there may have been a deliberate conspiracy to marginalise afro Guyanese in this country over the past several years. At the end of this process the judge will have to give his ruling so I will say no more since the matter is, after all, subjudice.

    This brings me to Jagdeo's recent bill concerning Broadcasting as Minister of information we have to assume that he is the author of it, even though it was Sam Hinds who presented it to the Parliament, in the Stabroek news of September 2, 2011 the Guyana Human Rights association [GHRA] says this about Jagdeo's bill and I quote ‘unable to continue to deny licences to independent operators the PPP government has concocted a defensive and ill-considered piece of draft legislation impelled by control and insularity" the GHRA also labels the bill restrictive to the freedom of expression guaranteed in the constitution, which it noted was written originally to provide legal respectability to the authoritarian powers accumulated in the hands of Forbes Burnham.  

    the GHRA also stated that the provisions of our constitutional article 146 is far more restrictive than article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which we signed in 1977 and that the draft broadcast bill was inadequate with respect to guaranteeing or protecting the right to freedom of speech or expression even less than what is guaranteed in or restrictive article 146.

    Why do I bring this up now I bring it up to show that every country which were signatories of the covenant of civil and political rights in 1977 had an obligation to include in their constitution and other laws a reinforcement of the provisions of the covenant they signed! Guyana's constitution was written in 1980 and but the crafters did not place in our constitution the full freedom of speech rights this country agreed to and signed in 1977, it was a violation of international trust; what is even more reprehensible is that even though they signed the optional protocol in 1993, since 1995 this PPP government has produced broadcast bills which consistently violated even the watered down freedom of speech rights contained in article 146 of the Burnham 1980 constitution. So all of this nonsense, concocted by the government which is written in our 2011 broadcast act violates the constitution and the Covenant of Civil and Political Rights.

    Since as a condition of granting a broadcast license and written on the back of it are the following infringements to freedom of speech 1. broadcasters must be careful not to include in their broadcast anything which offends good taste or decency or is likely to encourage racial hatred or incite crime or to lead to public disorder or to be offensive to public feeling 2.The licensee acting responsibly and in good faith shall ensure that any news given is presented with due accuracy and impartialibility.3. the licensee should ensure that due responsibility is exercised with respect to the content of any religious programmes of the licensee and that in particular any such programme does not involve any abusive or derogatory treatment of the religious views and beliefs to a particular religion or religious denomination.

     The new Broadcast bill goes even further into the realm of violations to free speech since it says in section 32 (i) all programmes should be fair and balanced in content and show a respect for truth in ways that do not under-represent any significant strand of thought, and that accuracy is founded on a commitment to check, cross check and double check and wherever possible to gather first-hand information from credible documentation or official spokespersons of fully attributable eye-witness sources, all of this is called prior censorship to free speech which is expressly forbidden in a democracy and violates article 19 of the international covenant of human rights. All of these freedom of rights infringements requiring broadcasters to be fair and balanced to say nothing that will disturb anyone is ridiculous and not feasible given the diverse nature of our population.

    In his letter to Sharma Jagdeo said that I was trying to excite some sort of Hindu conspiracy, I did not, I was implying that I had credible information that one Hindu Swami called Aksharandan was advising that TBN be taken off the air, does this swami Akahrandan speak for all Hindus in this country? I have spoken to many Hindu leaders in this country since this matter started and this is not their position, the Hindus religion is one of the most peaceful, non-controversial religions in the world and I for one would not utter a word against them, so to suggest that I was trying to divide or incite the Hindu religion is nonsense, as far as my occupying channel 72 illegally is concerned here again is a pack of lies, I was using it with the full knowledge of the owner of channel 72, who I was paying $200,000 per month to direct programming on this channel and I was also paying the government for the license to operate the channel, don't accuse me of illegality Jagdeo it was he who got the NFMU who unilaterally and illegally declared that the licensed premises for channel 72 was Albertown and not Versailles where it was coming for over 7 years and deprived the nation of channel 72, clearly the NFMU and Jagdeo were sleeping all of those seven years when TBN was being broadcast from Versailles? At the end of this abomination Jagdeo and the NFMU decided to take Trinity Broadcasting off the air and put Hits and Jams, a group now established to be sympathisers and supporters to Jagdeo, on the air. Why else would Jagdeo go to all of this trouble to get a Christian broadcast off the air if not advised by someone to do so?

   Also we have to remember that he and Edghill wanted to establish an Inter Faith Organisation using the promise to members, access to free air time on the Inter Faith Channel, not only for Christians but for all religions an act which could be divisive to all religions not only Christians, so it is clear that He wanted TBN off the air and that immoral music videos nonsense broadcasted day and night on channel 72 on the air which contain images which are morally disturbing to many leaders of all religious denominations in this country. Nowhere else in the world can such immorality be shown in broadcast form 24 hours a day it can only be shown on cable. That does not, according to the Jagdeo Regime, offend good taste or morals but Trinity Broadcasting posed a problem! More lies from this man who calls himself president in this country. He is a national disgrace. So was the treatment of his wife.

    The libel case now before the courts tells us that the evidence led so far establishes what I have been saying all along is true, there has been a systematic and deliberate conspiracy to marginalise black people in this country going on for nearly 10 years and it was allowed by the ERC, but the ERC labelled as inciting any objection made by any group protesting this process of marginalisation.

  I don't know about my violating the constitution, but Jagdeo took an oath of office and has sworn to uphold the constitution, he has consistently failed miserably in doing so. Free speech is non-existent in his new broadcast  law, illegality is the hallmark of his tenure as president and I hope someday to see legal action levied on his deliberate and numerous misdemeanours in public office.

   People don't vote for CN Sharma since they don't take him seriously politically, but over the years he has become legendary and beloved because of his programme of helping the poor and the oppressed by championing  their cause, so there is bound to be a reaction to this suspension, but I want to advise the people in this country to stay cool, don't let Jagdeo's ridiculous act excite you to public disorder since he may declare a state of emergency and prolong his stay in office, in fact that might be is plan all along do not fall for it, let the legal or political system try to resolve this, or you do the next best thing, those of you who love Mr. Sharma vote against Jagdeo and the PPP, since Jagdeo's act this close to the elections cannot have escaped his advisor Mr. Ramoutar who has done nothing and so has agreed to this nonsense.