The New Today

The attack on Press Freedom!!!

Tuesday, July 11 went virtually unnoticed in the country as some forces will seek to do anything and everything possible to ensure that our people do not remember an event that took place 42 years ago.

It was on this day in 1981 that Press Freedom in Grenada was dealt a bitter, cruel and vicious blow by the Marxist leaders of the country who ruled the island with an iron-fist just like their “Comrades” in those communist states in Eastern Europe like the Soviet Union, Poland, East Germany and Hungary.

Three prominent Grenadians – former Prime Minister Tillman Thomas, attorney-at-law Lloyd Noel and Newspaper Editor Leslie Pierre – were detained by members of the Security Forces of the People’s Revolutionary Army (PRA) and placed in cells at the Richmond Hill prison as political detainees until the demise of the Grenada Revolution.

The trio were among 26 persons who took the chance to launch the Grenadian Voice newspaper which angered the leaders of the Grenada Revolution.

Tillman Thomas, Pierre and Noel were among the 3112 persons who were detained during that most ugly period in our history.

The clamp down on the Grenadian Voice newspaper came a few years after the People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG) of late Prime Minister Maurice Bishop closed down the independent Torchlight newspaper for engaging in what was dubbed in those days as acts of destabilisation.

The closure of the Grenadian Voice by the Revolutionary Leaders of the day resulted in the rest of the region and the international community starting to take a much closer look at the happening in the Spice Isle.

On one occasion, all the major newspapers in the English-speaking Caribbean put out the same editorial to raise the issue of press freedom in Grenada, the plight of the hundreds of persons held as political detainees and the failure of Bishop and the PRG to hold “free and fair elections” as promised on the day of the overthrow of the Eric Gairy labour party government on March 13, 1979.

This is the kind of history that ought to be taught in our schools due to the fact that many persons have deliberately set out to make Bishop look like a Saint and Hero and Bernard Coard as “the Bad Boy” of the Grenada Revolution.

Anyone who wants to foolishly believe this kind of propaganda are invited to read “THE LINE OF MARCH” speech that was delivered by Bishop to an organ of the New Jewel Movement (NJM) around 1981 when he said that people were simple detained by his act of just signing a Detention Order and it was up to Richmond Hill prison for them.

The untold history of Grenada will also shed light on the hostile attitude of the PRG to religion in the country.

The revolutionaries were able to infiltrate some of the churches with their agents who were planted to spy on the Bishop and Priests within the powerful Roman Catholic Church and the others.

The heroic act of Tillman Thomas, Leslie Pierre and Lloyd Noel helped to pave the way for the return of press freedom in Grenada after the demise of the Grenada Revolution and the birth of a new period of democracy on the island.

It was this act of forgiveness by the Democratic Forces in the country that provided the platform for the Revolutionaries like Peter David, Chester Humphrey, Victor Nazim Burke, and Feron Lowe and company to re-emerge onto the political landscape in the country.

Tillman Thomas was prepared to put aside the wrongs that were done to him and his family during the 1979-83 period and warmly embraced “the Comrades” within the fold of The National Democratic Congress (NDC) and to give them another opportunity to show a new face and make a meaningful contribution to national development.

It did not take the so-called revolutionaries long before they once again showed their penchant and desire to grab State power similar to what Bernard Coard attempted to do against Maurice Bishop that led to the bloody executions on Fort George that was then known as Fort Rupert.

Within three years of forming the government in 2008, the Tillman Thomas-led Congress administration had imploded as a faction led by Peter David had a majority over the Prime Minister and was constantly threatening to go to the Governor General to try and change the leadership of the country.

Today Peter David is engulfed in another leadership struggle with Dr. Keith Mitchell on the issue of successor within the now opposition New National Party (NNP) that has dominated the political landscape in Grenada, Carriacou & Petite Martinique for the better part of the last 35 years.

It is very unfortunate that the current crop of persons operating in the Media are very ignorant of the struggles of those in the past who paved the way to make sure that the light for press freedom keeps alight and was never put out by the PRG and all other successor governments.

One of the most progressive legislation passed since the demise of the Grenada Revolution that aided press freedom was the decision taken by Congress under Tillman Thomas in the 2008-13 period to remove from the books Criminal Libel.

That administration also gave a commitment to take legislation to Parliament to pass a Freedom of Information Act.

On the 42nd anniversary of the imprisonment of Tillman Thomas, Lloyd Noel and Leslie Pierre, THE NEW TODAY is calling on current Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell to make good on the promise by the previous NDC government on the issue of the Freedom of Information bill.

The Freedom of Information Bill should be seen in the context of an advancement and enhancement of our democracy as the Media will be empowered to get information on the activities of government regardless of the anti-media position of the rulers of the day.

The Freedom of Information Act will empower the media to get information about the secret deal between the NNP regime and the Russian outfit on Grenada’s oil and gas, the E.J Miller deal and the loss of millions in guarantees for the Mt. Hartman project, the missing EC$54.2 million in the failed Shrimp Farm project, and the entire debacle in the crash of the First International Bank of Grenada (FIBG) and the bankrolling of NNP over the years.

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