(RSF/IFEX) - On 1 December 2002, the Portuguese public broadcaster Radiotelevisao Portuguesa's (RTP) operations were suspended in Guinea-Bissau for an unspecified period, according to the Information Ministry.
"This decision is unfair and unacceptable. RTP does nothing more than fulfill its mission of informing the people of Guinea-Bissau of events that have marked their country's history," RSF Secretary-General Robert Ménard stated in a letter to Deputy Information Minister Joao Manuel Gomes. The organisation asked him to lift the ban on RTP and allow the broadcaster's journalists to exercise their profession without obstruction.
According to an official press release, the authorities accuse RTP of broadcasting "information that is likely to tarnish the good image of Guinea-Bissau outside the country and may stir up anger inside the country." On 30 November, during the evening, the Portuguese public station had broadcast a programme marking the second anniversary of the death of General Ansumane Mané, the former head of a 1998 rebellion who was killed in November 2000, following an attempted coup d'état against the country's elected president, Kumba Yala. The RTP bureau chief in Guinea-Bissau, Joao Perreira Da Silva, is expected to be questioned by the Information Ministry about the information that was broadcast by his station.
RSF recalls that two journalists were arrested and detained in June following the airing of information about the president of Guinea-Bissau (see IFEX alerts of 28 and 20 August 2002). On 5 August, a radio announcer was also fined for criticising the concentration of power in the hands of members of the head of state's tribe on the air.