Media groups condemn hate speech by state-media head

[2008-06-12 7.35pm] Five local media rights organizations have condemned the provocative language reportedly used against Secretary of the Working Journalists Association Poddala Jayantha by new chairman of the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation Hudson Samarasinghe.
A statement by them said that Mr. Samarasinghe had indirectly called for the taking of the journalist’s life, while participating in a programme of TNL Radio on June 08th.

The SLBC head had reportedly said, “Poddala Jayantha, what do you know about the media? Do not sell the war. Will you provide for the children after bombs go off? Remember one thing. The country’s people will take care. Do not be traitors.”

In a similar tone, Mr. Samarasinghe had recently accused BBC Sandeshaya Correspondent Elmo Fernando against ‘interfering with local politics.’

The five media groups say such fascist utterances are only intended at provoking the people against dissenting voices.

Their statement further says that this individual had, in complete disregard to journalistic ethics, had targeted journalists, trade union and civil society leaders, through his hate speeches.
His appointment as a head of a state media institutions is an indication that the government too, approves of his conduct.

The statement warns that such hate speech spells danger to all democratic forces in the country.

It has been signed by the Free Media Movement, the Working Journalists Association, the Federation of Media Employees Trade Union, the Muslim Media Forum and the Tamil Media Alliance.


Media Minister says no govt. hit list of 27 journalists

[2008-06-12 7.25pm] Media Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa has rejected as a complete canard the allegation by UNP free media spokesman Dayasiri Jayasekara about the existence of a government hit list of 27 journalists.

The accusation has been leveled in an attempt to tarnish the image of the Defence Secretary and to cover up the internal crisis facing the UNP, Mr. Yapa told the media in Colombo today (Jun 12th).

A democratic government never instills the fear of death in journalists, he said, adding that he vehemently condemned such malicious and false propaganda. 

27 journalists in govt. hit list – UNP spokesman

   [2008-06-12 5.20pm] A government hit list containing the names of 27 journalists has been leaked to foreign diplomatic missions in the country, UNP’s free media spokesman Dayasiri Jayasekara has claimed.

Speaking to the media in Colombo today (Jun 12th), Mr. Jayasekara said he would not reveal the names of the targeted journalists in consideration of their safety.

He said the Prime Minister could be believed after he had promised media rights groups to guarantee the safety of media workers, despite whatever the President or the Defence Secretary say.  
The UNP MP said the matter would be raised in Parliament if the need arose.

Speaking further, he said that the Defence Ministry website had indirectly threatened the media against reporting on the war by quoting sources other than official ones.

Military promotions, weapons procurements and investigative reporting on the war have been prohibited, Mr. Jayasekara alleged.

As the Opposition Leader, Ranil Wickremesinghe has the right to brand the Defence Secretary a ‘traitor’, although Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, as a public official, cannot respond through the Defence Ministry website, he said.

The reply should come from the subject minister only in a speech to Parliament, the UNP free media spokesman added.

 – lanka