MATT: Boycott A&V press conference! Company must take responsibility for media assault

“The heavily worded statement by A&V Oil and Gas Limited also extended an invitation to the media to take a tour of their facilities and observe their operations. Media personnel are to be transported on buses the company will provide.

“We call on all journalists and their assignment editors to reject this invitation as their safety cannot be guaranteed.”

The following statement from the Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago (MATT) is in response to attacks on media workers outside of the A&V Oil and Gas compound and the company’s subsequent allegations:

Photo: Trinidad Guardian photographer Kristian De Silva shows his smashed camera after an assignment outside the A&V compound.
De Silva also claimed that he was assaulted by two unidentified men.
(Copyright Trinidad Guardian)

The last few days have been extremely difficult for the media fraternity in Trinidad and Tobago as media workers come to terms with the harassment of and attacks against some of our colleagues.

MATT continues to remind everyone that freedom of the press is entrenched in the Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago. The media fraternity takes its mandate to inform and educate seriously and MATT speaks for all when it says any attempt to obstruct working journalists from carrying out their duties is a violation of the law.

This Association strongly condemns the occurrences of last week in which Guardian photojournalist, Kristian De Silva was attacked. Phil Britton and Leona Nicholson, who are attached to TV6, were also harassed and attacked last week.

The episode was recorded on camera and remains on social media for all to judge for themselves.

We remain grateful Mr De Silva, a member of the media fraternity for close to 16 years, did not receive more serious injuries. The same concern goes for Sacha Wilson, Leona Nicholson and Phil Britton. We cannot discount the emotional trauma this could have on the individuals in question.

The Media Association and journalists at large look forward to a thorough investigation by the T&T Police Service of these brutal and unwarranted assaults leading to criminal charges against those responsible.

Having said this, MATT recognizes the statements made by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and United National Congress chairman, Dr David Lee, over the weekend. MATT views these as necessary statements in the times in which we now live.

A&V Oil and Gas Limited issued a statement asserting its strict legal rights regarding its property. It follows up this statement with something that resembles an apology. We recall an article in the Sunday Express which quotes Mr Hanif Nazim Baksh, owner of A&V Oil and Gas Limited, as saying: “What the hell he doing there? He lucky I didn’t bounce him down.”

Therefore, MATT rejects this cynical attempt to deflect attention away from the violence that occurred.

MATT also underscores that an apology or statement does not mean the TTPS should abandon its investigation and all individuals involved reserve the right to pursue legal action or seek legal advice.

Photo: Former MATT president Francesca Hawkins (second from left) greets acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams (centre) while MATT officials Sheila Rampersad (far left) and Jabari Fraser look on.

MATT has sought its own legal advice on the subject and has been advised that while A&V Oil and Gas has the right to defend its property it is completely disproportionate in attacking media personnel who all claim they were not trespassing—something A&V Oil and Gas has been unable to otherwise prove.

MATT is still in the process of collecting written statements and remains in contact with those affected.

The heavily worded statement by A&V Oil and Gas Limited also extended an invitation to the media to take a tour of their facilities and observe their operations. Media personnel are to be transported on buses the company will provide.

We call on all journalists and their assignment editors to reject this invitation as their safety cannot be guaranteed.

If A&V Oil and Gas Limited is serious about holding its company to account for what it has done we suggest a more sensible approach:

Photo: Senator Allyson Baksh (right), who was listed as a director and shareholder at A&V, questions Petrotrin officials during a JSC inquiry into the management and operations of the company.
(Copyright Office of the Parliament)

Substantiate the claim that any media personnel subject to attacks were trespassing on the property of A&V Oil and Gas Limited, and, if able to do so, explain which legal authority suggests physical violence as an appropriate response.

Take full responsibility for any involvement in these brutal attacks.

Replace all damaged equipment at once and pay for all medical bills incurred as a result.

Subject itself and its agents to a press conference at a neutral location chosen by us where members of this esteemed profession of journalism will ask questions on behalf of the citizens of this country.

MATT awaits a response.

Finally, the TTPS has assured these matters are being taken seriously. MATT understands the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) will also be conducting investigations.

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  1. Why not also boycott Mark Bassant for his false and unapologetic allegation that the Deputy Chairman of the Port Authority went to Japan on port business with respect to the ferry. Shame on you MATT, shame on you Bassant.

  2. What exactly would a boycott achieve?

  3. Why not go?…is this a subtle attempt to isolate the issue and prevent reporters from getting information?

  4. dead horse MATT finally get a voice, so call Journalists in this country are no longer independent but do the bidding of political parties.

  5. Aren’t there two A&V companies? Will they get off the hook if the two names are mixed up?

  6. Sorry to hear of this incident Andrea

  7. In full support of MATT . I also hope they follow-up with the PCA .

  8. A bit of history which can be fleshed out…Go back to 1976…Williams’s regime is tottering..After 2 states of emergency which failed to kill the labour movement, a near economic collapse averted by the revolutionary Arab wing of OPEC, the pending exit of the multi nationals Texaco and others..The labour movement organises a march which the gov’t forces attack…”Bloody Tuesday”….Neil Guisseppi of TTT State owned and Leon De of Radio 610 Leon are attacked for verbatim reporting..Guissepi retracts his story and De leon losses his job..Jimmy “Rockjaw” Bain is brought in to ‘manage’ TTT news..He edicts that no images, comments or interviews of the progressive labour leadership must be aired..There was no social media then…Fast forward to 2017..A political leadership awash with scandals is about to launch and IMF style budget as its leaders defends its sponsors/’friends’.

    • Thanks for this piece of history, I was too young to know the fine details. Remember TTT was state-owned..they had no freedom of editorial independence..Not a damn dog bark at the time..makes you wonder if we’re going back to those days…btw, has Roget said anything yet?

    • I want to suggest that we organise a forum at which this history can be shared..There have been consistent efforts to silence communication and ‘kill ideas’ via legislation, intimidation and victimisation..I feel our generation who helped to shape this history has a duty to put what is happening today in perspective. And stop chastising the youth of today.Can there not be seminar/seminars open to interested people in and out the media fraternity where all this history, dating back to the house arrest of CLR James in 1965 right through to what is happening today..Presenters who were ringside of history but whose timelines are short….read old age..can be found….Some of them were in fact newspaper editors then.

    • You just made me feel real old. I lived through that and 1990

    • So persons like you and I have a responsibility to share the narrative with the current generation/s

    • Rae Samuel the current generation always feel they know and don’t like to listen

    • That is just our the elders’ ignorance and chauvinism showing, I agree….Some of us do not realise it is a new dawn and and a new day,,that we were once where you all are now and elders of the era took time to guide us,,Which is our /elders responsibility to you all now..It is called constructive dialogue.

    • I am always suggesting that we find ways to share experiences..e.g..The media then and now..It could be simply group engaging in discussion…At an open agreed venue..One stipulation..Every one has the right to ‘say a word’.

    • Rae Samuel, be prepared to listen with the intention of learning something too

  9. One wishes this were merely about journalism….Do we really believe the incidents at Mr. Alleyne’s studio were about a murder investigation? If so why such zeal about this particular homicide? How would it have ended had not been a front line lawyer working class home in a ‘hot spot’ at 2.a.m..Speculation about who is bona fide is to avoid the central issue..An insecure political leadership, beset with scandals and revelations is falling back on a policy of intimidation as it chases shadows…

  10. Perhaps everybody isn’t aware of the facts.
    1. A&V issued an apology through Ramesh’s office saying they know they have a responsibility to offer info to the media but maintaining that they were operating within their rights.
    2. The tour is for Thursday.
    3. The media conference is for Saturday. Not even right after the tour.
    4. If you were pelting ppl a couple days ago, what about your premises has changed now that you are inviting those same people?
    5. Fearless journalism isn’t about cowering to ppl who blatantly disrespect you. The media are used all the time in this country to carry PR messages for those in position when they want to talk. That is not how the media are supposed to function and those in position need to learn that the media is not there to just do their bidding when convenient.

    • Maybe I am too pragmatic.
      But I will ignore the pelting bottle at the media.
      After it was established that they were, in fact, media workers, why did the company not use the same avenue to clarify the information they allege is incorrect and in the public domain?
      Just asking.

  11. As it stands right now nothing has been established as fact, just allegations. Not saying de Silva is lying, but even the Wired story describes the allegations as “claims,” and MATT itself, from the article, also says that it is still in the process of collecting all the facts. How is it then not premature to be calling for a boycott at this stage? Immature and borderline irresponsible response by MATT.

  12. Lasana, what do you think of the situation at Crimewatch studio yesterday? Is he part of the media fraternity? Serious question eh

  13. Wonder if Rowley called Baksh about the alleged media assault too?

  14. Don’t blame MATT..It is a professional body and not a trade union..Be clear on the difference.

  15. Agreed , no go, no go and kiss no bam bam.let Ramesh and Keith do that.

  16. MATT is part of the phucking problem; they are in bed with the power structure/politicians preparing stories worthy of getting housing….

  17. “Finally, the TTPS has assured these matters are being taken seriously. MATT understands the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) will also be conducting investigations.”

    Hahahahaha! Taken seriously? The Prime Minister friend? The Express article makes clear which side good ole Keith has chosen to support. We eh even getting anything like a independent sole investigator this time because Moutett report paint him in a corner. And everybody in officialdom getting a instruction, direct or indirect, to treat it like if it doesn’t exist. (Cue Machel’s “Mih fren and dem” or whatever the song name.)

    Deal with it, allyuh!

  18. I would reject it just out of solidarity for my bredrin

  19. Lasana Liburd what’s your take on it ?

  20. Immature and borderline irresponsible response by MATT.

  21. Nice idea but silly reaction.
    Go there and grill the man and his company like real journalist.

  22. Pelt bottle behind people and manhandle them and then invite them to come back?
    People really jokey…

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