Response of the Medical Faculty Students’ Union

PRESS RELEASE- 30th August 2008

An unknown person entered the premises of the Bloemfontein Men’s Hostel of the Faculty of Medicine, Colombo on the 28th of August without obtaining permission from the faculty, Students’ Union, warden or necessary authorities.

Due the recent incident leading to the demise of a student of the Eastern University, the entire university community is on alert for unauthorized persons entering university premises. The presence of the Female Army Quarters just next to the Men’s Hostel keeps the responsible authorities extra alert on unauthorized persons entering the premises due to the present security situation in the country.

As such, the Sub-warden in charge of the Hostel requested the individual to produce identification and explain his presence at which point he refused to comply and acted violently towards the Sub-warden assaulting him  severely enough to require hospitalization. Medical students at the Hostel, seeing this incident intervened and attempted to diffuse the situation. The individual continued to refuse to establish his identity or explain his presence in the Hostel premises.

At this point journalists from a leading private electronic media institution also entered the premises without permission and acted to aggravate the situation which culminated in creating an issue of this magnitude.

It was later revealed that the individual was a photographer from a leading newspaper. At a time when security is of paramount importance it was not only highly unprofessional but also irresponsible of a member of the media to enter a government institution without permission and refuse to produce identification.

However it is unfortunate to notice the way in which the media reported this incident over the past three days. Majority of the media stations failed to at least make passing mention of the students’ aspect of the story. Biased reporting was obvious. None mentioned that the Sub-warden was hospitalized. In an era where media freedom is much talked about it would have been much appreciated if a balanced view of the story was reported, for the public to decide.

As the Medical Faculty Students’ Union we are deeply disturbed by the disregard shown towards the Sub warden who is carrying out a commendable duty. We firmly believe that media personnel should follow some basic guidelines and under no situation refuse to produce identification. This incident could easily have been avoided it this journalist has not by-passed the normal protocol.

While appreciating media freedom, the Medical Faculty Students’ Union kindly request that media ethics are adhered to as well.

The Medical Faculty Students’ Union is prepared to co-operate fully with any investigations into this matter.
Kasun Weerakkody
President (2008/2009)
Medical Faculty Students’ Union

For further information
Kasun Weerakkody: 0773992377