නිදහස් මාධ්ය ව්යාපාරය වෙනුවෙන් නිතීඥ ජේ. සී. වැලිඅමුණ මහතා ප්රමුඛ නීතීඥ මණ්ඩලයක් මෙම මූලික අයිතිවාසිකම් නඩුව වෙනුවෙන් පෙනී සිටී අතර මෙම නඩු විභාගය නිරීක්ෂණය භාෂණයේ හා තොරතුරු දැන ගැනීමේ අයිතිය වෙනුවෙන් පෙනී සිටින පුරවැසි කණ්ඩායම් ද අද එහි පැමිණ සිටියේ ය.
On Thursday and Friday, we wrote about the ugly government backlash to last week’s U.N. Human Rights Council resolution calling for an investigation into Sri Lanka’s alleged abuses of international humanitarian law during its war with Tamil separatists.
That campaign of intimidation continues: In the magistrate’s court where Sandhya Eknelygoda has been trying to gain any information about the whereabouts of her husband, Prageeth, who disappeared on January 24, 2010, she came under harsh questioning — observers at the court called it intentionally intimidating — from government lawyers about her presence at the UNHRC in Geneva. Before she returned home from Switzerland, her name had been denounced in the government-controlled media as one of the government’s critics — several of whom have been denounced as “traitors.”
Eknelygoda told colleagues in Colombo that Monday’s entire court session was about how she went to Geneva, who funded her trip, why she betrayed her country, and how much she was paid to do that. Her lawyer objected to the line of questioning, but was overruled, she said.
When she had returned home on Sunday from Geneva, she told reporters, “I only wanted to bring the disappearance of my husband to the notice of the international community. But, those who are allied with the government insulted me, saying I went there to betray the country,” she said. You can see a video report of her statement on YouTube.
Eknelygoda and her two teenage sons have been waging a quiet but steadfast campaign to pressure the government for information about their husband and father. CPJ and four other media support groups wrote to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in March 2011, asking for his intervention in the case. Ban referred the issue to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and UNESCO, where it has been allowed to languish, despite pleas from Eknelygoda and her supporters.
Nor has a January 2012 ruling by Sri Lanka’s Appeal Court that former Attorney General Mohan Peiris could be called in as a witness into the disappearance of Eknelygoda been acted on. In a November 2011 posting, “Sri Lanka’s savage smokescreen,” CPJ reported that Peiris told the Asian Human Rights Commission that Eknelygoda had taken refuge in a foreign country and that the campaign against his disappearance is a hoax, although he failed then and ever since to provide detailed information about where Eknelygoda had fled.
At the time, CPJ said that Peiris’s statements “do more than point up the government’s indifference to Eknelygoda’s fate and the mental anguish of his wife and two sons. Peiris’s statements highlight the disregard with which the government views international opinion.”
Given the response in the government-controlled media following last week’s Geneva vote, that indifference and disregard have moved on to outright hostility.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) strongly deplores the alarming escalation in hostile rhetoric and the barely concealed threats of reprisals that have been made against some of the country’s leading journalists and human rights defenders by representatives of the Sri Lankan government and by state-owned media outlets.
This follows the adoption of a resolution by the U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on March 22, in which the Sri Lankan government was censured for rampant human rights violations during the last phases of the country’s long civil war and urged to initiate urgent measures of reconciliation to ensure a durable peace between the country’s main ethnic groups.
“We observe that state-owned media has in the days since the U.S. made known its intention to table a censure resolution against the Sri Lankan government, been rapidly ramping up the tone of its attacks on the country’s journalists and media freedom defenders,” said the IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park
On January 26, Dinamina, the Sinhala-language daily from the state-owned Associated Newspapers (or Lake House) group, carried a story quoting senior minister, Keheliya Rambukwella, to the effect that exiled journalists who had taken up the campaign for human rights and reconciliation were “traitors” who were bringing the country into “disrepute”.
Later, the English-language daily from the Lake House group, the Daily News, reported that human rights defenders, including journalist and press freedom campaigner Sunanda Deshapriya, were betraying Sri Lanka and continuing to work with the terrorist rump of the defeated Tamil insurgent group, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
In an editorial on March 16, Dinamina described human rights defenders as “degenerates” and denounced Deshapriya as a “mouthpiece of the LTTE”. It warned that in a country like Iran, “these kinds of bastards would be stoned to death”.
Dharmasiri Lankapeli, one of the veteran leaders of the Federation of Media Employees’ Trade Unions (FMETU) has also been targeted by the state-owned media. The attacks have become particularly harsh since the country’s main professional media associations and journalists’ unions joined hands for a “black January” observance this year, to protest against the continuing climate of impunity for attacks on the right to free speech.
The attacks have also extended to social scientists and political commentators such as P. Saravanamuttu, Nimalka Fernando and Sunila Abeysekara, and prominent figures of the church who have argued the cause of national reconciliation and accountability for human rights abuses since the end of the civil war.
The government-controlled ITN TV channel has been a platform for severe verbal assaults against journalists and human rights defenders. Between January 9 and 24, the channel carried no fewer than five programmes in its daily slot titled “Vimasuma” attacking journalists who had been present during the nineteenth regular session of the UNHRC, for having allegedly “betrayed” the country.
The IFJ learns that vivid and graphic photo-montages have been circulated by various political actors, which represent journalists and other prominent human rights defenders as terrorists and traitors, working at the behest of alien forces.
On March 23, Sri Lanka’s Minister for Public Relations, Mervyn Silva addressed a public demonstration against the UNHRC resolution, threatening to “break the limbs” of any of the exiled journalists if they dared set foot in the country again. Among the journalists mentioned was Poddala Jayantha, who suffered a brutal assault in Colombo city in June 2009 that left him with permanent disabilities, and has lived in exile since January 2010.
Silva has been known for several bruising encounters with the media in recent years and was in July 2009, credibly reported as publicly claiming credit for the murder of newspaper editor Lasantha Wickramatunge in January and the assault on Jayantha in June.
Though he later disavowed the statement attributed to him, Silva’s record as a baiter of journalists committed to human rights and free speech, has continued to cause deep unease.
“We fear that the hostile climate created by the stream of rhetoric from government spokespersons and state-owned media, could engender serious hazards to those who dare to speak up in Sri Lanka for peace and national reconciliation,” said Ms Park.
The dangers are clear and imminent and the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has issued a public warning against reprisals that target Sri Lanka’s journalists and human rights defenders.
“We call on the top political leadership in Sri Lanka to promptly distance itself from the manner of hostile rhetoric that has been seen and heard over the last three months,” said Ms Park.
“We urge that serious consideration be given to the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission which recently submitted a comprehensive report pointing the way forward for post-conflict Sri Lanka, after being invested with a wide-ranging mandate by the President of the country.”
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0950
The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 134 countries
Find the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific
Find the IFJ on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/IFJAsiaPacific
Filed under: Action alert, Campaigns, International Alerts, Media, Media Attack, Press Release | Tagged: FMM, Free Media Movement, Freedom of Expression, IFJ, Media Attack, Media Freedom, Mervyn Silva, Sri Lanka | Leave a Comment »
The attacks on human rights defenders is a rejection of the recommendations of the Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission
The attacks on human rights defenders is a rejection of the recommendations of the Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission
About the security of Sunila, Saravanamuttu and Nimalka
The Free Media Movement condemns, without hesitation, the provocative and hate-filled attacks being carried on by the state media, targeting three prominent Sri Lankan human rights defenders.
The reason behind these attacks is that they have participated in the sessions of the UN Human Rights Council and expressed their opinions with regard to human rights in Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan citizens are entitled to the right to hold a dissenting opinion by the Constitution itself, and the right to engage with the human rights mechanisms of the United Nations is internationally recognized.
Over two decades ago, our President and several other political leaders of the government used these rights in order to take a stand on human rights nationally, in collaboration with non-governmental organizations, and internationally, in collaboration including with the United Nations. The Free Media movement accepts that, then and now, human rights activists are committed to the same objectives.
The recommendations of the Lesson Learned and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), which are the subject of discussion today, affirm that true progress cannot be achieved without first affirming the rights of Sri Lankan citizens to the freedoms of expression, speech and association. The Free Media Movement believes that the frightening and hate-filled propaganda campaign launched by the state media is directly subverting the recommendations of the LLRC, which the government stands committed to implement.
Sunila Abeysekera, Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu and Nimalka Fernando, who are the current targets of the state media, are all three human rights activists who are well recognised in Sri Lanka and abroad as well as within their communities. We can say without reservation that they have played an enormous role, with commitment, in the securing of people’s rights within Sri Lanka. Rupavahini, the state television channel, ITN and the Lake House group of newspapers, all of which are under direct state control, are presently using their photographs and engaging in a violent campaign against them, based on falsehoods. The Free Media Movement expresses its concern that this contemptible campaign which is portraying these human rights activists as LTTE supporters could result in an actual threat to their lives.
We also want to point out that in the past, members of the Free Media Movement who participated in sessions of the UN Human Rights Council have been subjected to the same kind of violent and false campaign; these threats remain today.
We appeal to the relevant authorities to respect the rights of Sri Lankan human rights activists and to refrain from any actions that could place their lives at risk. We also call on the government to fulfill irs obligations in guaranteeing the safety and security of Sunila Abeysekera, Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu and Nimalka Fernando who are the targets of the hate campaign of the government at this time.
Sunil Jayasekera Hana Ibrahim (Ms)
Free Media Movement Free Media Movement
ශ්රී ලංකාවේ ප්රමුඛ මානව හිමිකම් ක්රියාකාරිකයන් තිදෙනෙකු ඉලක්ක කර ගනිමින් රාජ්ය මාධ්ය විසින් ගෙන යන වෛරී සහ උසිගන්වන සුළු ප්රහාරයන් නිදහස් මාධ්ය ව්යාපාරය දැඩි පිළිකුලෙන් යුතුව හෙළා දකිමින් නිදහස් මාධ්ය ව්යාපාරය මාධ්ය නිවේදනයක් නිකුත්කරමින් පවසා සිටියි.
එහි වැඩිදුරටත් සදහන් වන්නේ ‘‘රාජ්ය මාධ්යන්ගේ වර්තමාන ඉලක්කය බවට පත්ව ඇති සුනිලා අබේසේකර, ආචාර්ය පාක්යසෝති සරවනමුත්තු සහ නිමල්කා ප්රනාන්දු යන මෙම මානව හිමිකම් ක්රියාකාරිකයන් තිදෙනාම ශ්රී ලංකාව තුළ මෙන්ම ජාත්යන්තර තලයේ ද ස්වකීය ප්රජාව තුළ මහත් පිළිගැනීමකට හා අවධානයට පාත්රව සිටින, එමෙන්ම ශ්රී ලංකාව තුළ ජනතා අයිතිවාසිකම් සුරක්ෂිත කර ගැනීම උදෙසා දැවැන්ත කාර්යභාරයක් සහ කැපවීමක් සිදු කර ඇති බව අවිවාදිතය. ඔවුන්ට එරෙහිව රජයේ ඍජු පාලනය යටතේ ක්රියාත්මක ජාතික රූපවාහිණිය, අයිටීඑන් නාලිකාව සහ ලේක්හවුස් ආයතනය යන සියල්ලම ඔවුන්ගේ ඡායාරූප ද යොදා ගනිමින් දරුණූ සහ අසත්ය ප්රචාරයන් ගෙන යමින් සිටී. මෙම දුෂ්ඨ ප්රචාරයන්ගේ අරමුණ මෙකී මානව හිමිකම් ක්රියාකාරිකයන් එල්ටීටීඊ හිතවාදීන් ලෙස දක්වා ඔවුන්ගේ ජීවිත අනතුරකට හෙළීම බවට නිදහස් මාධ්ය ව්යාපාරය බිය පළ කරයි.‘‘
මේ එම මාධ්ය නිවේදනයයි
මානව හිමිකම් ක්රියාධරයින්ට එල්ල කරන ප්රහාර උගත් පාඩම් කොමිසමේ නිර්දේශ නිෂේධ කිරීමකි.
සුනිලා, සරවනමුත්තු සහ නිමල්කාගේ ආරක්ෂාව පිළිබදවයි
ශ්රී ලංකාවේ ප්රමුඛ මානව හිමිකම් ක්රියාකාරිකයන් තිදෙනෙකු ඉලක්ක කර ගනිමින් රාජ්ය මාධ්ය විසින් ගෙන යන වෛරී සහ උසිගන්වන සුළු ප්රහාරයන් නිදහස් මාධ්ය ව්යාපාරය දැඩි පිළිකුලෙන් යුතුව හෙළා දකියි.
මෙම ප්රහාරයන්ට හේතු වී ඇත්තේ එක්සත් ජාතීන්ගේ මානව හිමිකම් කවුන්සිලයට ඔවුන් සහභාගිවීමත් ශ්රී ලංකාවේ මානව හිමිකම් පිළිබඳව සිය අදහස් දැක්වීමත්ය. විරුද්ධ මත දැරීමේ අයිතිය ශ්රී ලංකාවේ පුරවැසියනට ව්යවස්ථාවෙන්ම හිමි වන අතර එක්සත් ජාතීන්ගේ සංවිධානයෙහි මානව හිමිකම් යාන්ත්රණයන් සමඟ කටයුතු කිරීම අන්තර් ජාතික වශයෙන් පිළිගැනෙන හිමිකමකි.
මෙම අයිතීන් පාවිච්චි කරමින් වත්මන් ජනාධිපතිවරයා ඇතුළු ආණ්ඩුවේ දේශපාලන නායකනායිකාවන් ගණනාවක්ම දශක දෙකකට පෙර එක්සත් ජාතීන්ගේ සංවිධානය ඇතුළු අන්තර් ජාතික වශයෙනුත් රාජ්ය නොවන සංවිධාන සමඟ එක්ව දේශීය වශයෙනුත් මානව හිමිකම් වෙනුවෙන් පෙනී සිටියහ. ඒ අනුව මෙම මානව හිමිකම් ක්රියාධරයින් අතීතයේ දී මෙන්ම වර්තමානයේදී ද කැප වී ඇත්තේ එකම අරමුණක් උදෙසා බව නිදහස් මාධ්ය ව්යාපාරයේ පිළිගැනීමයි.
අද සාකච්ජාවට බදුන් වී ඇති උගත් පාඩම් කොමිසමේ නිර්දේශ විසින් යළි තහවුරු කර ඇත්තේ ද ශ්රී ලංකික පුරවැසියන්ගේ භාෂනයේ, ප්රකාශනයේ, සමාගමයේ අයිතීන් තරවුරු කිරීමෙන් තොරව සැබෑ ප්රගතියක් අත්කර ගත නොහැකි බවයි. රාජ්ය මාධ්ය විසින් දියත් කර ඇති බිය ජනක වෛර ප්රචාරක ව්යාපාරය ක්රියාවට නංවන බවට ආණ්ඩුව විසින් ශපථ කර ඇති උගත් පාඩම් කොමිසමේ නිර්දේශයන් එලිපිටම කෙළෙසීමක් බව නිදහස් මාධ්ය ව්යාපාරය ප්රකාශ කරයි.
රාජ්ය මාධ්යන්ගේ වර්තමාන ඉලක්කය බවට පත්ව ඇති සුනිලා අබේසේකර, ආචාර්ය පාක්යසෝති සරවනමුත්තු සහ නිමල්කා ප්රනාන්දු යන මෙම මානව හිමිකම් ක්රියාකාරිකයන් තිදෙනාම ශ්රී ලංකාව තුළ මෙන්ම ජාත්යන්තර තලයේ ද ස්වකීය ප්රජාව තුළ මහත් පිළිගැනීමකට හා අවධානයට පාත්රව සිටින, එමෙන්ම ශ්රී ලංකාව තුළ ජනතා අයිතිවාසිකම් සුරක්ෂිත කර ගැනීම උදෙසා දැවැන්ත කාර්යභාරයක් සහ කැපවීමක් සිදු කර ඇති බව අවිවාදිතය. ඔවුන්ට එරෙහිව රජයේ ඍජු පාලනය යටතේ ක්රියාත්මක ජාතික රූපවාහිණිය, අයිටීඑන් නාලිකාව සහ ලේක්හවුස් ආයතනය යන සියල්ලම ඔවුන්ගේ ඡායාරූප ද යොදා ගනිමින් දරුණූ සහ අසත්ය ප්රචාරයන් ගෙන යමින් සිටී. මෙම දුෂ්ඨ ප්රචාරයන්ගේ අරමුණ මෙකී මානව හිමිකම් ක්රියාකාරිකයන් එල්ටීටීඊ හිතවාදීන් ලෙස දක්වා ඔවුන්ගේ ජීවිත අනතුරකට හෙළීම බවට නිදහස් මාධ්ය ව්යාපාරය බිය පළ කරයි.
මෙයට පෙර අවස්ථාවන්හිදී ද එක්සත් ජාතීන්ගේ මානව හිමිකම් කවුන්සිලයට සහභාගිවීම මත නිදහස් මාධ්ය ව්යාපාරයේ ක්රියාධරයන් රාජ්ය මාධ්ය මිගින් දියත් කරන ලද මෙවැනිම අසත්ය සහ දරුණූ බිය ජනක ප්රහාරයන්ට ලක් වූ බවත් එම ප්රහාරයන් ද තවමත් පවත්නා බවත් මෙහිදී සඳහන් කරමු.
එැබැවින් අප බලවත් ඕනෑකමකින් යුතුව වගකිවයුතු පාර්ශවයන්ගෙන් ඉල්ලා සිටින්නේ ශ්රී ලාංකික මානව හිමිකම් ක්රියාධරයන්ගේ අයිතීන් පිළිගන්නා ලෙසත් ඔවුන්ගේ ජිවිත අනතුරට හෙළන ක්රියාමාර්ගයන්ගෙන් වළකින ලෙසත් ය. විශේෂයෙන්ම රාජ්ය වෛර ව්යාපාරයන්හි ඉලක්කය බවට පත්ව සිටින සුනිලා අබේසේකර, ආචාර්ය පාක්යසෝති සරවනමුත්තු සහ නිමල්කා ප්රනාන්දු යන අයගේ ආරක්ෂාව තහවරු කිරීම රජයේ වගකීමක් ලෙස සළකන ලෙසත් ය.
Filed under: Action alert, Press Release, Sinhala Press Release | Tagged: Democrcy, Dr P. Saravanamuttu, FMM, Free Media Movement, Freedom of Expression, Governancy, Human Rights, Media Freedom, Nimalka Fernando, Sri Lanka, state media, Sunila Abesekara, UN, UN_HRC | Leave a Comment »
By – IFJ
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins affiliates in Sri Lanka in sharply denouncing the latest move towards news censorship in by the country’s authorities.
In a letter addressed to various news and media organisations, the Media Centre for National Security (MCNS) a body which operates under Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Defence, has demanded that “any news related to national security, security forces, and the police should get prior approval from the MCNS before dissemination”.
The letter is signed by MCNS Director-General Lakshman Hulugalle and dated March 9. It will apply to all news alerts issued through text and SMS over the phone network.
Emergency regulations in force for much of Sri Lanka’s quarter-century long civil war allowed for prior censorship of news platforms. Since the lifting of the state of emergency in August 2011, there no longer appears to be a clear legal sanction for censoring news flows.
The MCNS directive follows an incident in the north of the country in which three soldiers of the Sri Lankan army were killed. Rumours soon emerged, suggesting that the insurgent army that had waged a quarter-century long civil war against the Sri Lankan government was regrouping. These rumours were soon dispelled by an official statement clarifying that the incident involved a soldier of the Sri Lankan army who had shot two colleagues before turning the gun on himself.
There were also news alerts that were sent out at the same time regarding a police officer being arrested while demanding a large bribe, and a botched abduction attempt involving personnel of the armed forces.
Sri Lanka’s Free Media Movement (FMM), an IFJ affiliate, has warned that the MCNS directive could be the first step towards re-imposing a comprehensive regime of censorship over the media.
“We urge the Sri Lankan government to reconsider this move, which does little to rebuild an atmosphere of trust between the country’s ethnic communities after a quarter century of strife”, said the IFJ Asia-Pacific.
“The Sri Lankan government should also be aware that the world is waiting in anticipation for it to initiate long overdue gestures of reconciliation that would contribute towards a long-term peace in the island-nation”.
“Yet far from implementing the comprehensive recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) — a body appointed with a mandate from Sri Lanka’s President — the Government seems set upon a course of heightened confrontation”.
“We call on the Sri Lankan government to withdraw the latest moves towards censorship, and urge serious engagement with all representative bodies to see that the LLRC recommendations, which include significant measures on freedom of speech and the right to information, are implemented”.
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0950
The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries
Filed under: Action alert, Campaigns, International Alerts, Media, Media Attack, Press Release | Tagged: Censorship, Democrcy, FMM, Free Media Movement, Freedom of Expression, IFJ, Media Freedom, Press Freedom, SMS, SMS bolcked, Sri Lanka | Leave a Comment »
COLOMBO (Reuters) – Sri Lanka’s Defense Ministry on Monday ordered news outlets to get prior approval before sending mobile phone alerts about the military or police, a move press freedom groups decried as another step towards greater censorship.
In a letter hand-delivered to news outlets including Reuters, Media Center for National Security (MCNS) Director-General Lakshman Hulugalle said the new order was effective immediately.
“I have been instructed to inform you that any news related to national security, security forces, and the police should get prior approval from the MCNS before dissemination,” Hulugalle said in the letter, dated last Friday.
That was the same day local news outlets reported a murder-suicide that left three soldiers dead of gunshot wounds. It also came after reports of a police officer’s arrest for soliciting a large bribe, and a botched abduction attempt blamed on soldiers.
The MCNS comes under the defense ministry, and handles the public affairs function for the military and police.
Contacted by Reuters, Hulugalle denied there were any restrictions on what could be reported.
“But we want to know what’s going to be disseminated before it is being disseminated,” he said.
The new directive is the latest control imposed on news and information websites. The government is increasingly intolerant of criticism, and Sri Lanka has in recent years headed further down lists measuring international press freedom rankings.
“This is the first step in going for wider censorship,” said Sunil Jayasekara, the head of Sri Lanka’s Free Media Movement.
In November, the government required news websites to register with the Media Ministry, a month after it blocked some sites critical of the government.
The Indian Ocean island nation’s government first blocked some websites linked to the Tamil Tiger separatists during the final phase of a 25-year civil war, arguing the ban was acceptable in a time of war, but the bans have grown since the end of the war in 2009.
(Writing by Bryson Hull; Editing by Daniel Magnowski)