ජනමාධ්‍ය සංගමයක ප්‍රධානීන්ට තරවටු කිරීම

ශ්‍රී ලංකා වෘත්තීය පත්‍රකලාවේදීන්ගේ සංගමය (SLWJA)

මාධ්‍යසේවක වෘත්තීය සමිති සම්මේලනය (FMETU)

ශ්‍රී ලංකා මුස්ලිම් ජනමාධ්‍යවේදීන්ගේ සංසදය (SLMMF)

ශ්‍රී ලංකා දෙමළ ජනමාධ්‍යවේදීන්ගේ සන්ධානය (SLTJA)

නිදහස් මාධ්‍ය ව්‍යාපාරය (FMM)  
 
2008/05/28. 
ආරක්ෂ ලේකම්,
ගෝඨාභය රාජපක්ෂ මහතා,
ආරක්ෂක අමාත්‍යාංශය,
කොළඹ.
 
ගරු ලේකම්තුමනි, 
 
ජනමාධ්‍යවේදී කීත් නොයාර් මහතා පැහැරගෙන ගොස් අමානුෂික ලෙස පහර දීමට එරෙහිව අප සංවිධාන පහ විසින් පසුගිය 22වැනි දින කොල්ලුපිටිය මංසන්ධියේ දී පවත්වන ලද සාමකාමි විරෝධතාව සම්බන්ධයෙන් ශ්‍රී ලංකා වෘත්තීය පත්‍රකලාවේදින් ගේ සංගමයේ සභාපති සනත් බාලසූරිය  සහ එහි ප්‍රධාන ලේකම් පෝද්දල ජයන්ත යන මහත්වරුන් ඔබ විසින් පසුගිය 26 වැනි දින ඔබ ගේ කාර්යාලයට කැඳවා කරන ලද දෝෂාරෝපණය සහ වක්‍ර තර්ජනය අප සංවිධානයන්හි බලවත් කණස්සල්ලට හේතු වී තිබේ.
 
අප විසින් මෙම විරෝධතාව පවත්වන ලද්දේ මෙරට ව්‍යවස්ථාවෙන් සහතික කොට ඇති අදහස් ප්‍රකාශ කිරීමේ අයිතිය යටතේ ය. මෙම අයිතිය මෙරට ජනයා දීර්ඝ කාලයක් තිස්සේ බෙහෝ රජයන් යටතේ භුක්ති විඳ ඇති සහ  අනුලංඝනීය අයිතියකි.  ආරක්ෂ ලේකම්වරයකු විසින් ජනමාධ්‍ය සංගමයක ප්‍රධානීන් කැදවා මෙලෙස දෝෂාරෝපණය සහ තර්ජනය කරන ලද අවස්ථාවක් පසුගිය වසර 25 මුලුල්ලේ ම නොවී ය.
 
කීත් නොයාර් මහතා පැහැරගෙන ගොස් වධ හිංසා පැමිණවීම  පිළිබඳව නිසි පරීක්ෂණ සිදුකරන ලෙසත්, වරදකරුවන් අධිකරණයට ඉදිරිපත් කරන ලෙසත් ආණ්ඩුවට බල කිරීම මෙම විරෝධතාවේ අරමුණ විය. මෙම සාහසික අපරාධයේ වරදකරුවන් අධිකරණය හමුවට ඉදිරිපත් කිරීමට ආණ්ඩුව පියවර නොගන්නේ නමි මෙම අපරාධයට ආණ්ඩුව වගකිවයුතු වන බව ට අපි එහි දී කියා සිටියෙමු.
 
සනත් බාලසූරිය සහ පොද්දල ජයන්ත යන ජනමාධ්‍යවේදීන් දෙදෙනා ලේක්හවුස් ආයතනයේ සභාපති බන්දුල පද්මකුමාර මහතා විසින් ඔබ හමුවට කැඳවාගෙන ඒමෙන් පසු, ඔවුන් මෙම විරෝධතාවේ වගකිවයුත්තන් ලෙස සළකා ඔබ විසින් පහත සඳහන් කරුණු ඉදිරිපත් කළ බව අප සංවිධානයන්ට වාර්තා වී තිබේ:
 
1. රාජ්‍ය ජනමාධ්‍යයක සේවය කරමින් රජයේ ආරක්ෂක හමුදාවන් විවේචනය කිරීමට අවසර දිය නොහැකි ය.
 
2. රටෙහි ඕනෑම අයෙකු විවේචනය කළ හැකි නමුත් යුද හමුදාව සහ එහි ප්‍රධානීන් විවේචනය කිරීමට කිසිවකුටත් අවසර දිය නොහැක. මෙම විරෝධතාවේ අරමුණ වූයේ හමුදාපතිවරයා සහ යුද හමුදාව විවේචනය කිරීම ය. එබැවින් එය වරදකි.
 
3. එලෙස විවේචනය කළහොත් යුද හමුදා ප්‍රධානීන්ට ගරු කරන පිරිස් විසින් භයානක පියවර ගැනිමට ඉඩ තිබේ. එවැනි පියවර ගැනීම වැරදි නැති අතර ඒවා වැළැක්විමට ආණ්ඩුවට හැකියාවක් නැත.
 
එමෙන්ම අප සදහන් කිරිමට කැමැත්තේ ලේක්හවුසිය රජයට අයත් ජනමාධ්‍යක් නොව නීති විරෝධී ලෙස රජය විසින් තබා ගෙන සිටින මහජන සේවා ජනමාධ්‍යක් විය යුතු මාධ්‍ය ආයතනයක් බව ය. රජයට අයත් ජනමාධ්‍යයක සේවය කරන බැවින් රජය විවේචනය කිරිමට අයිතියක් නැත යන ප්‍රකාශයම අප සලකන්නේ මුලික මානව හිමිකමක් කෙළෙසිමක් ලෙස ය.
 
අප විරෝධතාවයේ අරමුණ වුයේ මෙරට මහජනයා ගේ පොදු ප්‍රජාතන්ත්‍රවාදී අයිතීන් ආරක්ෂා කිරීම ය. ජනමාධ්‍යයේ කාර්යභාරය වන්නේ සත්‍යය දැන ගැනීමේ පුරවැසි අයිතියට ගරු කිරීම මිස යුද්ධයට පක්ෂ වීම හෝ විරුද්ධ වීම නොවන බව අප ගේ බලවත් විශ්වාසය යි.  කීත් නොයාර් මහතා පැහැරගෙන ගොස් වධහිංසා පැමිණවීමට අප සංවිධාන  විරෝධය පළකරන්නේ මූලික මානව හිමිකම්  කෙළෙසීමක් සහ මහජනයාගේ තොරතුරු දැන ගැනීමේ අයිතිය කෙළසීමක් ලෙස සළකා ය.
 
ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ ප්‍රධානතම ජනමාධ්‍යවේදී සංවිධානය වන ශ්‍රී ලංකා පුවත්පත් කලාවේදීන්ගේ සංගමයේ ප්‍රධානීන් දෙදෙනා කැදවා දෙපැයකටත් වැඩි කාලයක් තිස්සේ කරුණු ගෙනහැරපාමින් තව දුරටත් මෙවැනි උද්ඝෝෂණයන්හි යෙදෙන්නේ නම් ජීවිත අවදානමක් ඇතිවිය හැකි බවට ඔබ විසින් කරන ලද ප්‍රකාශය අප සංවිධාන සළකන්නේ වක්‍ර ලෙස කරන ලද තර්ජනයක් ලෙස ය. රටක ආරක්ෂ ලේකම්වරයා මෙ ලෙස තර්ජනාත්මක ව හැසිරෙන විට රටක නීතිය සහ සාමය රැකගැනීම ඉතා දුෂ්කර වීම අරුමයක් නොවේ.
 
අද දින (28.05.2008) පවත්වන ලද පුවත්පත් සාකච්ඡාවේදී ජාතික ආරක්ෂාව පිළිබඳ මාධ්‍ය මධ්‍යස්ථානයේ අධ්‍යක්ෂ ජනරාල් ලක්ෂ්මන් හුළුගල්ල මහතා සඳහන් කරන ලද්දේ, රජයේ සේවකයින් වන සනත් බාලසූරිය සහ පෝද්දල ජයන්ත යන අයට රජය විවේචනය කිරීමට අයිතියක් නැති බැවින් ඒ බව දැනුම් දීමට ඔවුන් දෙදෙනා ආරක්ෂක ලේකම්වරයා විසින් කැඳවන ලද බවයි.
 
අප එකහෙළා මෙම ප්‍රජාතන්ත්‍ර විරෝධි ප්‍රකාශය හෙළා දකින්නෙමු. මෙවැනි පුද්ගලයන්ගේ ප්‍රකාශ මගින් සිදුවන්නේ ආණ්ඩුව මානව හිමිකම් සහ මාධ්‍ය නිදහස නොසලකා ක්‍රියා කරන බවට ඇති මතය තව තවත් ශක්තිමත් වීමයි
 
අප සංවිධාන අවසාන වශයෙන් ඔබෙන් ඉල්ලා සිටින්නේ  විවිධ අදහස් දැරීමට පුරවැසියාට ඇති අයිතියට සහ සත්‍ය වාර්තා කිරිමට ජනමාධ්‍යවේදීන්ට ඇති අයිතියට ගරු කරන ලෙස ය. ප්‍රජාතන්ත්‍රවාදි සමාජයක ජනමාධ්‍යයේ මූලික කාර්යභාරය වන මුර පල්ලාගේ භූමිකාව ඉටු කිරීමට ඇති අයිතිය පිළිගනිමින් ඕනෑම විවේචනයක යෙදීමේ අයිතිය පිළිගන්නා ලෙස ය.
 
ජනමාධ්‍ය නිදහස වෙනුවෙන් තවදුරටත් පෙනී සිටීමේ අයිතිය අපි අත්නොහරින්නෙමු. එම අයිතිය වෙනුවෙන් පෙනී සිටීම නිසා සනත් බාලසූරිය හෝ පෝද්දල ජයන්ත යන ජනමාධ්‍යවේදීන් හට කවර හෝ අනතුරක් සිදු නොවනු ඇතැයි ද අපි අපේක්ෂා කරමු. අප ආරක්ෂ ලේකම්වරයා  වන ඔබගෙන් ඉල්ලා සිටින්නේ සනත් බාලසූරිය සහ පෝද්දල ජයන්ත යන මාධ්‍යවේදීන් ද ඇතුළු සියලු ජනමාධ්‍යවේදීන් ගේ සහ මාධ්‍ය ක්‍රියාකාරිකයන් ගේ ජීවිතාරක්ෂාව තහවුරු කිරීමට නො පමාව පියවර ගන්නා ලෙස යි. එ සේ ම ප්‍රජාතන්ත්‍රවාදී සමාජයක අත්‍යාවශ්‍ය අංගයක් ලෙස ජනමාධ්‍ය නිදහස පිළිගන්නා ලෙසත් මෙවැනි තර්ජනකාරී හැසිරීම් නතර කරන ලෙසත් අප සංවිධාන මහත් ඕනෑකමින් ඔබගෙන් ඉල්ලා සිටී. 
 
 
සනත් බාලසූරිය – සුනන්ද දේශප්‍රිය – ධර්මසිරි ලංකාපේලි – එන්.එම් අමින් – ආර්. භාරතී 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Journalist slain in Jaffna

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 28 May 2008, 14:29 GMT]
Jaffna correspondent of Sakthi TV station, Paranirupasingam Thevakumar, 34, was abducted while he was returning to his residence in Vaddukkoaddai and hacked to death in Kaakkaitheevu, a barren land, Wednesday around 4:00 p.m., initial reports from Jaffna said. A friend of him was seriously injured and succumbed to the injuries at Jaffna hospital.

Mr. Thevakumar, a young family man who married last year, was one of the few who dared to work from Jaffna at a time many reporters of the mainstream media have fled Jaffna. He was also in charge of the telecast station of Sakthi TV in Jaffna.

His friend, who died at Jaffna hospital, was identified as Mahenthiran Varathan, 28, a staff worker at the District Secretariat of Jaffna.

Sakthi TV is owned by one of the largest privately-held media corporations, the Maharajah Television (MTV) and operates MTV English, Sirasa TV in Sinhala and Sakthi TV in Tamil.

Journalist hacked to death in Jaffna

 
28th May 2008, Colombo, Sri Lanka: The Free Media Movement (FMM) reports with deep sadness that yet another journalist was murdered today in Jaffna, in the embattled Northern Province of Sri Lanka. The FMM vehemently condemns this dastardly act and extend our condolences to his wife and family.
 
Sirasa, Shakthi and MTV Television Network Jaffna district correspondent P. Devakumar was hacked to death this evening in Navanthurei on his way home from Jaffna town. A friend of Devakumar was also killed by in the attack.  Devakumar, a resident of Vaddukoddai, Jaffna, was 36 years old and married for one year. He had worked for MTV for nearly three years. 

We note that Devakumar is the 9th journalist/media worker killed in Jaffna since 2006 and that three more journalists/media workers have been abducted in Jaffna since the same year.
 
Jaffna, the main city in the embattled Northern Peninsula of Sri Lanka, has been under government military control for over a decade and is heavily policed and fortified. However, not a single disappearance, abduction or murder of a journalist / media worker has been investigated that has brought those responsible to book. We are fearful that investigations into Devakumar’s murder will also suffer a similar fate.
 
It is with sickeningly increasing frequency that we are compelled to ask the government to take concrete measures to halt the killing, assault and intimidation of journalists in Sri Lanka. Vociferous condemnations and promises of inquiries are meaningless without the political will to push forward investigations.
Devakumar’s death must be investigated urgently, meaningfully and impartially. The repugnant impunity that aids and abets violence against journalists and media personnel must come to an end. 

Reprimand of senior journalists unacceptable

Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association (SLWJA)

Federation of Media Employees Trade Union (FMETU)

Sri Lanka Muslim Media Forum (SLMMF)

Sri Lanka Tamil Journalists Alliance (SLTJA)

Free Media Movement (FMM)

 

Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapaksha

Secretary of Defence,

Ministry of Defence,

Colombo, Sri Lanka.

 

28 May 2008

 

Dear Sir,

Reprimand of senior journalists unacceptable

We are extremely disappointed and very concerned to discover that you summoned and reprimanded Sanath Balasooriya and Poddala Jayantha, the President and General Secretary of Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association (SLWJA) respectively over the protest campaign organized by our five media organizations against abduction and inhuman assault of The Nation journalist Keith Noyahr.

Your action has no historical precedent.

We held this protest campaign peacefully and under the freedom of expression enshrined in our Constitution. The aim of our protest was to demand that the government initiates an open and impartial investigation into the abduction and assault of Keith Noyahr and bring the culprits to the book. We openly stated that if the government does not apprehend the culprits and attempts to impair and impede the investigation, we hold it responsible for this heinous crime.

We understand that your position as articulated to the President and General Secretary of the SLWJA over two hours spent in your office was as follows:

  •        That it is unacceptable to criticise the armed forces whilst working in State newspapers.
  •        That anyone other than the leaders of the armed forces can be criticised.
  •        That the aim of our protest was to criticise the armed forces and that was wrong.
  •        If both journalists continue criticising the military, neither the Secretary of Defence nor the regime are in a position to prevent actions taken against them by groups / persons who revere the Army Commander.

We wish to address these points.

The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Limited (ANCL), commonly referred to as Lake House, is not State property or your own fiefdom. Successive governments since 1972 have used Lake House and other State media as instruments of propaganda. Sadly, instead of addressing this deplorable trend, the incumbent regime appears to be taking Lake House into new lows of servility.

Your assertion that journalists who work in State media cannot engage in the criticism of those in government and the armed forces is particularly revealing. It is regrettable that you consider the primary and overarching function of State media to be one that is unquestioningly supportive of the regime and whatever it does, says and thinks. We consider this position to be violently opposed to media freedom and the freedom of expression.   

We believe it is the responsibility of the media to report in the public interest. We believe that Keith Noyahr exercised, both as a citizen and journalist, his fundamental rights to report critically on issues vital to war, peace and governance in Sri Lanka. That he was subject to grievous physical injury and trauma and that he is only the latest in a growing line of journalists subject to verbal and physical assaults is cause for deep concern.

We are outraged by your thinly veiled threat that the lives of Sanath Balasooriya and Poddala Jayantha would be in grave danger should they continue engage in independent reportage critical of the military and the regime. Clearly, it is a problem that you see no problem in such odious expression. At a time when your brother the President and his government seeks to assure us that all is well with the protection and fullest enjoyment of fundamental rights in Sri Lanka, your behaviour – and not for the first time – is a significant marker of the ground reality and the challenges facing free media and human rights. 

As Sri Lanka’s five major media collectives we demand that you restrain yourself. We also hold the President directly accountable for your actions and statements. We earnestly hope that your office or the regime does not harm, in any way, courageous journalists who stand up for their rights and those of the larger public. We demand that you recognise the freedom of expression and support media freedom in Sri Lanka.

We both assure and warn you that we remain undeterred in our struggle for media freedom in Sri Lanka and in light of your comments are emboldened to continue independent and critical coverage of the regime’s actions to undermine the rule of law, human rights, media freedom and democracy.

Finally, we note that Lakshman Hulugalla, the Director of the Media Centre for National Security (MCNS) has in a press conference today noted that Sanath Balasooriya and Poddala Jayantha have no right to criticise government policy and were summoned by the Secretary of Defence regarding to inform them of this.

We jointly and unequivocally condemn this statement. The actions and statements of these individuals strengthen the case that the regime shows scant regard for and little interest in protecting and strengthening media freedom in Sri Lanka.

cc: media, civil society organizations and political parties

Keith Noyahr and Sri Lanka’s rejection at the UNHRC

 

Daily Mirror Opinion ,Monday, May 26, 2008

http://www.dailymirror.lk/DM_BLOG/Sections/frmNewsDetailView.aspx?ARTID=15752

Keith Noyahr like all journalists in the country carries no weapons. 
He like all in his fraternity believes his only duty to be to address the wrongs taking place in the country. They criticize regimes that deny people their rights and abuse powers over and above they are granted. How do such journalists become the victim of such a horrendous attack like that which befell Keith Noyahr last week?
What justification is there for such defenseless writers to be attacked in this merciless manner when war lords are left in charge of entire provinces in the same country? Isn’t it ironic that the same government that fails to protect journalists, whose only weapon is a pen, endorses the regime of Pillayan who is armed, abducts little children for war and extorts money to fund his group?

What in this scenario provided justification for the government’s demand to be elected to the world’s watch dog on human rights? The United Nations General Assembly (GA) resolution 60/251 requires that “members elected to the Council shall uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights” and “fully cooperate”  with the Council. Sri Lanka falls far short of meeting these requirements.

   As numbers of disappeared under several armed gangs, continue to increase with not a single investigation conducted, the culture of impunity is taking a heavy toll on the country. Minority communities continue to be harassed under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. It was in such a backdrop that the world rejected Sri Lanka’s bid for the UN seat.

Sri Lanka’s defeat is a victory for the Human Rights Council,” said Lawrence Moss, special counsel to Human Rights Watch. “Because member states enforced the membership standards they established two years ago by rejecting re-election for a country whose rights record has so seriously deteriorated.”

The country’s bid came under the heavy criticism of those in the caliber of Former US President Jimmy Carter and Desmond Tutu. Tutu charged that “The systematic abuses by Sri Lankan government forces are among the most serious imaginable.

He accused government security forces of summarily removing people from their homes and families in the middle of the night, ‘never to be heard from again.

“Torture and extrajudicial killings are widespread. When the human rights council was established, UN members required that states elected must themselves “uphold the highest standards” of human rights. On that count, Sri Lanka is clearly disqualified,” he added.

Carter maintained that numerous nongovernmental groups have raised concerns about Sri-Lanka’s candidacy due to the country’s deteriorating human rights record since its first election to the Council in 2006.  ‘For example, Sri Lanka has one of the highest rates of enforced disappearances in the world, with little or no discernable commitment to accountability.

“To re-elect states with deteriorating human rights records would undermine the Council at a time when it should be taking steps to shore its credibility as the principal platform for addressing human rights violations”, he asserted. These are very serious accusations for a democratic country to have to bear, and must not be taken lightly.

The Coalition of Non Governmental Organizations itself raised issue  with the global body for any moves to elect the country to a seat.   They maintained that the government fails to meet the membership standards, has “presided over a grave deterioration of human rights protection” since first winning Council membership in 2006, and “has used its membership of the Human Rights Council to protect itself from scrutiny.”

These problems are compounded by the authorities having failed to provide easily accessible avenues enabling victims of human rights abuses to make complaints. Extreme delays in adjudication make it near- futile to pursue such complaints, when made. The absence of a witness protection law and system has led to the harassment and even killing of victims seeking redress and witnesses.

It is also a fact that Sri Lanka did not reply to any of the 12 questionnaires sent by special procedure mandate holders between 1/1/2004 and 31/12/2007, nor to over half of the 94 letters of allegations and urgent appeals sent by special procedures in that period. Sri Lanka has not implemented the principal recommendations of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances and the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings. The Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment observed that Sri Lankan authorities impeded his fact- finding, citing “instances where detainees were hidden or brought away shortly before the Special Rapporteur arrived.”

Certainly the warring party LTTE’s own record of human rights in itself is a point of contention. A despicable terrorist group; the LTTE hasn’t at any point in its history showed any form of respect for human dignity. As we speak there are children at the battle front and the group has been responsible for the merciless killing of many independent moderates even within its own community.

It has over and over shown that it holds no respect for human rights or tolerates any dissent. Democracy is a far cry from the terror group. But this cannot be the basis for justification for the State to unleash terror. A democratically elected government has no room to justify violating human rights on the basis that a banned terror group engages in it. It is a sad but undeniable fact that hundreds of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, the highest rate of new cases recorded have taken place. On record are also arbitrary arrests and long-term detentions without charge or trial and the widespread torture of detainees, a charge that has been endorsed by the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture.

Various resettlement programs by the government based largely on political agendas, have meant the forcible return of internally displaced persons to unsafe areas. Impressive reports of development and resettlement places that have yet failed to take off ground will not count for a basis for an environment that minority communities feel safe in. The continued complicity with the recruitment of children to the battle field under the Karuna faction will not leave much room for the regime’s acceptance at any international rights body.

It is also ironic that the Rajapaksa regime cries fowl and blames various rights groups for its loss at the UNHRC. History remembers Mahinda Rajapaksa’s bid to force the then UNP government off the Council in 1989 against rampant human rights abuses. It is equally sad that the country is experiencing such a breakdown of rights under Rajapaksa who in the late 80’s was a noteworthy advocate of the same dignities now denied many in their thousands.

The government must come to the understanding that the freedom of expression is a right that must be enjoyed by every citizen of the country. It is by no means a privilege that any government can be seen fit to hand down to the people. The government must know that a poor human rights record is one that will deny it much more than representation in the UN body. It has the capacity to isolate aid dependent countries like Sri Lanka in the international arena.

  Increased violation of human dignities account for far greater economic benefits than Sri Lanka can afford presently. The crucial bid for GSP+ is the most relevant example of this.

Was the merciless assault of Keith Noyahr mere irony or an arrogant message to the world community that the country cared little for global strictures on human dignity? It is hard to ignore that the assault came merely 24 hours after the country lost its bid at the UNHRC. The fear that the assault and immediate repercussions on various human rights activists following the most recent attack has placed, is real. The government’s attitude to the attack, itself exemplifies the total disregard it holds for humanity. The government must be mindful of the fact that till it exercises its responsibility of conducting an impartial inquiry and brings the perpetrators to book, the finger will be directed at it.=

US raps Lanka for allowing assaults on media persons

 

PK Balachandran

COLOMBO: The United States on Saturday rapped the Sri Lankan government for allowing goons to assault media persons with impunity.

Coming close on the heels of the brutal assault on and the abduction of Keith Noyahr, Associate Editor and Defence Correspondent of ‘The Nation weekly by an unidentified gang, the US statement said some of the independent voices in the Sri Lankan media were paying “too high a price for speaking out.”

The statement was made in Colombo by visiting US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Labour, Erica Barks-Ruggles. The US places a “very high” value on freedom of speech and the press, Barks-Ruggles told Sri Lankan officials.

She saluted the “civic courage” demonstrated by independent voices in Sri Lanka’s media, some of whom, she noted, “have paid too high a price for speaking out.”

” Sri Lanka has the necessary institutional framework in place, but it needs to empower its institutions to carry out their work effectively. Human rights protection needs to be applied in fact, not just in law,” she pointedout.

In a front page editorial on the attack on Noyahr, The Island said: “Noyahr’s ordeal has proved once again that the culture of impunity has come to stay in this country. Attacking journalists seems to have become an easier task than throwing stones at stray dogs. Perpetrators of violence against the media are confident of going scot free.”

Giving a list of ten journalists who were killed in the past two decades, the editorial said the performance of the government in investigating these cases,was “execrable”. Not one has been punished for the crimes.

Daily Mirror said in its edit that by allowing such attacks to take place with impunity, the government was only giving credence to a widespread feeling in the UN that Sri Lanka had a “serious” humanrights problem.

Were Noyahr’s abductors trying to get a lead on his `sources’?

 

by Shamindra Ferdinando -The Island

As Thursday’s abduction and torture of Keith Noyahr, Associate Editor of The Nation, drew widespread condemnation, Sunday Island inquiries revealed his tormentors had been taken him to Dompe and then brought him back to his Dehiwela residence after Rivira Media Corporation triggered a frantic search for him.

Well informed sources said the gang would have been after the identity of Noyahr’s ‘sources.’

The timely intervention of Lalith Alahakoon, Editor of The Nation and Krishantha Prasad Cooray,

CEO of the Rivira Media Corporation, had forced the government to search for the missing journalist. But his release, the sources said asserted would have been after the gang had established the identities of the target’s ‘sources.’

Now, they would be after his ‘sources,’ the sources said. Had not for their intervention, Noyahr would have been killed and dumped somewhere, the sources said.

A UK based businessman early this year bought a 49 per cent stake of Rivira Media Corporation which publishes ‘Rivira’, ‘The Nation’ and ‘Bottom Line’ newspapers. He is reported to have paid Rs. 100 million.

The remaining shares of Rivira Media are owned by Richard Peiris and Company of which Dr. Sena Yaddehige is Chairman/MD and key shareholder.

Noyahr had dinner with Alahakoon and Cooray at Queen Café near the British Council leaving for his Waidya Road residence in the Dehiwela police area. The abductors had taken him most probably at gun point as he got off his car, leaving the lights on and engine running, to open the gate, the sources said.

They said that as Noyahr neared his home, he had called his wife on his mobile phone to open the gate, the sources said. After seeing an empty car with its engine running, she had immediately alerted Alahakoon and Cooray who in turn had got in touch with the government, the sources said.

Despite the hour, a senior minister had promptly got in touch with President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa who in turn initiated action to locate the missing man.

Subsequently it had been established the vehicle carrying Noyahr was moving towards Malwana and while police alerted local police stations, the missing man had been brought back by his abductors who dropped him outside his home.

The attack on Noyahr who wrote under the pen name Senpathi was the latest in a series of attacks directed against the print and electronic media for being critical of ruling party politicians and officials.

Sirasa TV crew attacked and their equipment destroyed

Sirasa TV crew attacked and their equipment destroyed

24th May 2008, Colombo, Sri Lanka: The Free Media Movement (FMM) was shocked and dismayed to see visuals of a SIRASA TV media vehicle and a TV camera smashed by thugs with party political affiliations on 19th May 2008, the day of a significant Buddhist holiday in Sri Lanka. All the windows and the windscreen of the vehicle were in smithereens after repeated blows againt them by the professional grade TV camera of the crew. The crew consisted of journalist Lalith Rajapaksha, a Producer of Sirasa TV Network, cameraman Chanadana Amarasinghe and the driver P.P. Kostha, who had to be hospitalized as a result of severe beating he received from the gang.

Sri Lanka has not seen this nature of attack against a media crew by any group in the recent past.

According to the complaint made to Kiribathgoda police it transpires that on 19th May 2008, the Sirasa late night TV crew were filming pandols and lanterns erected for the Buddhist festival Vesak in the town of Kiribathgoda. When the crew was getting ready to film a pandol close to the market a gang surrounded them, threateningly asked them to stop filming the pandol and to leave the area immediately. Suddenly however, the gang stopped the crew saying that they had to seek the advice of a Minister.  After a phone call to the Minister was made, the gang asked the driver to move the vehicle to a different location. They then snatched the TV camera, smashed it on the ground and hit the vehicle windows with it. The crew heard the gang talking among themselves to set fire to the vehicle with the crew.  Sensing the life threatening danger looming the crew get out of the vehicle and mingled with other people present to see the religious decorations.

What is more incredible is that according to the crew, this incident took place as Police were looking on from close quarters. We find this behaviour of Police abhorrent and condemn their unwillingness to intervene and protect the lives and property of the journalists.

The Kiribathgoda town is part of the Kelaniya constituency where infamous Minister of Labour Mervyn Silva acts as the violently self-styled organizer for the ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP). Mervyn Silva had in the past openly threatened Sirasa media personal to not visit “his” area to cover any event and said if it happens he will not hesitate to use his weapons and his hands against them.

The FMM strongly suspects that the Minister instigated this attack on the TV crew. The Sirasa TV network has consistently covered the egregious violations of media freedom by the Minister, of which there have been many in the past.

We urgently demand an impartial investigation into this incident and once again ask the Government to reign in the pathologically miscreant Minister. Failure to do this will only strengthen the fact and perception that the regime aids and abets the violation of media freedom, the freedom of expression and the freedom of movement that are basic human rights.