Kissoon's letter on Gandhi rejected; Kaieteur News says no pressure from India

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Kissoon's letter on Gandhi rejected; Kaieteur News says no pressure from India | Latest
Written by Denis Scott Chabrol
Monday, 06 May 2013 20:07

Freddie Kissoon
On the heels of India’s formal protest of a Freddie Kissoon column that questioned Mahatma Gandhi’s sexuality, Kaieteur News has refused to publish a letter by the columnist- a decision the newspaper denied had anything to do with the foreign government’s objection.
Kaieteur News’ Editor-in-Chief, Adam Harris said the newspaper’s decision was editorial prerogative” but he declined to give details. “Nobody banned him. I said to Freddie that they got other battles to fight. Why pick a fight with the Indian High Commission?,” said Harris.
“It has absolutely nothing to do with the Indian High Commission. It just got to do with timing,” added Harris.
The veteran journalist, who has worked in the state-owned, political and privately-owned media, argued that final decisions rest with the media owners. “Freedom of expression is generally at the dictates of the owners of the media,” he said.
Foreign Minister, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett has already confirmed that the Indian government has formally expressed concern to the Guyana government about the column. Harris has also confirmed that the Indian High Commissioner has formally protested the column but the newspaper’s publisher, Glen Lall has refused to apologise.
Kissoon recalled Letters Editor, Dale Andrews telling him that he decided to leave the decision up to Harris based on the newspaper’s policy on the Gandhi issue. The Editor-in-Chief, according to Kissoon, told him that publisher, Lall decided that the letter should not be published.
“This policy by KN is bizarre and it comes at a time when KN is in the forefront if the fight for freedom of the press in the light of government’s radio license nepotism. The KN restriction on Gandhi is an act of madness, and that is putting it mildly,” added Kissoon.
The former University of Guyana Political Science lecturer was adamant that he got the distinct impression that KN was unprepared to carry critiques on Gandhi, especially the alleged homosexuality because of the Indian High Commissioner’s intervention.
He called on Kaieteur News to furnish him a list of personalities around the world who should not be analysed. He planned to raise his concern with the Guyana Press Association (GPA). If there is no such list, then why Gandhi? I will raise this issue with the Guyana Press Association. Honestly in my twenty four years of writing columns this is the most macabre situation I have encountered and it certainly calls for national debate,” he said.
Kissoon said he pointed out that while the American Ambassador, Brent Hardt has intervened in the radio license controversy, the Indian High Commissioner was “yet to say a word” and was unlikely to do so. “This is the same High Commissioner that wants KN not to carry critiques of Gandhi. If KN can criticize its own leaders in columns and letter pages why is Gandhi the exception,” he said.
In the letter that Kaieteur News refused to publish, Kissoon deemed India’s posture towards his column “n inelegant interference with the free press in Guyana.”
He said every fact used in the column in relation to Gandhi’s alleged homosexuality, bias against dark-skinned Indians, praise of Adolph Hitler and disdain for Africans, support for the caste system were taken from reputable international publications that were named in the column.

Following is the remainder of the column:
The Indian Government must know that criticism of Gandhi is mountainous even in India itself where among the Dalits, he is reviled and they see the real hero of Indian Independence as Dr. Ambedkar, a Dalit that was in rivalry with Gandhi.
I honestly feel that the Indian Government was trying to intimidate a small country. It would never have done that to a New York Times column on Gandhi that was critical of the Mahatma. The book that brought out the alleged homosexual affairs of Gandhi was written by one of the most respected journalists of the 20th century and former editor-in-chief of the New York Times, Joseph Lelyveld. Mr. Lelyveld’s book was reviewed in the world’s major newspapers and magazines in which the homosexual aspect was put under discussion.


Did the Indian Government contact all these media houses to complain? I think not. I close with a pertinent disclosure. The letter written by Gandhi to his alleged German male lover were put up for auction at Sotheby’s by the German’s great grandson but the Indian Government asked for a cancellation of the sale and bought the entire stock for the asking price. So we will never know what took place between Gandhi and the German body builder only those aspects of the letters that Levyveld brought out in his book

I hope what the Indian High Commissioner did and the letter of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is never repeated in this country. It strikes at the heart of journalistic and academic freedom. I leave it up to the local media to comment if they would like to. As for me, I did my part. I aired what took place.
 
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