Ever since the government suspended “normal relations” with Channel Five, numerous organizations have been quick to strengthen its bond with this independent station. They have generally expressed concern about the Cabinet decision to punish this media house for expressing views that the government would rather remain hidden. The Caribbean Broadcasting on Monday said the unilateral withdrawal will only serve to unbalance the media landscape, by the Government denying itself the opportunity to have its positions represented to the people of Belize through this important media house. This afternoon, well known NGO, Belizeans For Justice took time out to show solidarity for Channel Five which has often aired the concerns of its members.
Yolanda Schakron, Member, Belizeans For Justice
“Belizeans For Justice today is issuing a press release because we feel that the suspension of relationships with Channel Five by the government is totally unacceptable. In a democratic system, we need the media. Freedom of speech is very, very important. We believe that there are other media houses that are out there breaking a lot of the rules that should be adhered to. So we believe that it should be equal down the line. We have worked closely with Channel Five. Our association is about freedom and justice for all Belizeans and the media serves as an outlet for us to get our stories out there. We believe that when a government is starting to interfere with media houses, I believe that that is something that every Belizean should be very concerned about and we should not let this be forgotten or lie low about it. We see that right now Channel Five can’t interview government employees and that is wrong because they have a right to speak out too. To me it’s like they are saying look, if you go against what I believe ina, you will get fired. And that is a form of victimization, I believe. I believe it is a form of instilling fear in a society and we dah wah free society. We dah wah democratic nation.”
Joan Sutherland, Member, Belizeans For Justice
“I supported my organization Belizeans for Justice one hundred percent. For me Channel Five was my voice when I got all my threats. Channel Five was the one that I can say spoke for me because all my threats have stopped and I hope it will continue being my voice.”
Oscar Rosado, Member, Belizeans For Justice
“We are about Justice on a whole and Channel Five allowed most of our members when we have looked for Channel Five to express our freedom of speech. Never have they asked us what political party we support. Everything I think Channel Five has invested in our community, educating our people, doing programs for our people and nothing political. I think today we should be congratulating and handing over a prize over to Channel Five for what they have done for the Belizean public. And the injustice that is being done, we condemn it here as Belizeans for Justice today. So Channel Five, keep on the good work and we’ll be behind you one hundred percent, the Belizean People.”
Also joining in the rejection of the ban, Glenn Tillett a veteran journalist of four decades, also sent a release, saying “it can serve no good in any way when the institution of government, administered by those who have sworn a sacred duty to serve all equitably without fear or favor so blatantly admit to policies of discrimination, victimization and division.” Tillett also called on the Prime Minister to rescind or retract the policy and that the Belize Broadcasting Authority should stop abdicating its duty as the agency with the constitutional duty for the regulation of the broadcasting industry.