The controversy over Minister Mervyn Silva which is now echoing in the country is not just a matter of media freedom. The minister’s undisciplined, uncivilized and violent behavior is a deep rooted problem connected to the protection of law and order and the civil society of this country. Hence the Prayathna Peoples Movement urges all professional organizations and other mass movements to come forward immediately to stop this menace.
The assault on the Sirasa journalists, Sampath Waruna and Saliya Ranawaka who were assigned to cover the state function of declaring open the second stage of over head bridge at Kelaniya and snatching their cameras forcibly by Minister Mervyn Silva and his goons creates a deep shock not only among the media fraternity, but also among civilized society of this country. Why this person is takes law in to his own hands in this manner? From which authority does he obtains this power? Why is that the Police who are vested with the responsibility of protecting law and order are unable to take direct action in this regard? There are a number of questions which have arisen again along with this incident for which no answers could be found.
There is no need to remind the long history of threats, intimidation, abuse and assault on the journalists of this country by Minister Mervyn Silva. But one thing is very clear. It can not be concealed that his mode of behavior is a part and parcel of the suppression of Media that is happening in this country. This situation is analyzed at length in the Media release by Prayathna Janatha Movement issued on 30th of May, this year. We have warned that the abduction and assaults on Mr. Keith Noyahr, the Associate Editor of ‘The Nation’ and the indirect threat on life made by the Secretary, Defense on the President and Secretary of the Working Journalists Association who demonstrated against such abduction and assault, is a looming dark omen of a military rule. It is clear form the recent incident that a shadow of a cruel hand of a political mafia goon squad now supplements the shadow of a military rule to suppers not only the media, but also the entire civil society.
Minister Mervyn Silva behaves in the manner of a lunatic who has taken the law in to his own hands due to the fact that the rulers are unable to punish him even after the incident caused by him at the National Television. The reason so far given by the Police is that there is not enough evidence to take legal action on such incidents. But all the photographs, evidence and the photos of the suspected people are clearly made available on the reach incident. We have evidenced how cleverly our Police springs in to action on a common incident of crime. But the unenthusiastic and dampened way, the Police is taking action regarding on incident that happened in front of thousands of people and viewed by lacks of people throughout the country over the T.V. will be quite adequate for the people to lose faith on the institutions that protect the law and order of our country. In fact, it is not a problem regarding a person, Minister Mervyn Silva. It is a problem regarding the government to which be belongs, and a problem regarding the integrity, will and the ability of the leaders of that government for good governance.
This violent behavior of Mervyn Silva and the stubborn silence of the government indicates to us that Mervyn is trying to protect the social – political gains and profits which he receives from the present government. Then the citizens of this country may have to think what these gains and profits are.
If the responsible authorities are not taking proper action to tame this person, there is only one action left for the people of this county. That is to seek the assistance of courts to protect their rights as enshrined in the Constitution. If the Police is not prepared to constitute legal action against Minister Mervyn Silva, the people have the right to go to courts with all these evidence. We earnestly appeal to civil society organization of the country to immediately mediate in this matter and educate the people. Just issuing a statement condemning an incident, when such incident happens will not serve the purpose. At this juncture the civil society organization of this country should understand the threats and challenges that they are faced with. The Prayathna Janatha Movement which is very concerned over this incident assures the people that they will be quite awake and attentive continuously regarding the steps to be taken in the future.
Prayathna Peoples Movement