Mervyn indicted on nine counts

(Sunday Leader 16th Nov)

Labour Minister Mervyn Silva and three others were indicted on Friday by the Attorney General in the High Court of Colombo on nine counts of unlawful assembly, mischief, robbery and assault involving Sirasa journalists at Peliyagoda on August 4.

The assault and removal of the camera equipment took place when the journalists Waruna Sampath and Saliya Ranawaka went to cover a public event at the invitation of the organisers of the event.

Silva, Dulan Hettiarachchi, Prasanna Ranaweera and Nihal Chandrawansa alias Manchi Nihal were indicted on charges of assault, unlawful assembly, mischief and robbery. They have been indicted under nine counts.

Charge one in the indictment relates to the removal of videotapes from the two journalists.

Charge number two in the indictment states that a camcorder worth Rs 1,239,500 was removed from the Sirasa video journalist Waruna Sampath, and another worth 102,500 from Saliya Ranawaka, according to charge number three. They have also been charged on count four with assaulting Sampath and causing him injuries intentionally. The four have been indicted with damaging the cameras in charges five and nine.


IGP directed to arrest Mervyn

Monday, 18 August 2008 12:27 ( lanka dissent)  

Colombo Additional Magistrate Manjula Thilakaratne today (August 18th) ordered IGP Jayantha Wickremeratne to arrest Minister Mervyn Silva and three others immediately in connection with the Sirasa TV incident. The other suspects named are Kelaniya PS member Prasanna Ranaweera, Nihal Silva alias Munchee Nihal and Dulan Asiri.

The order came after the HQI of Peliyagoda informed the court that initial investigations revealed the four were connected to the incident.

Earlier, Colombo Additional Magistrate Manjula Tilakaratne warned Peliyagoda Police to confine their duty to investigate complaints.

He told the police not to assume judicial responsibilities and to pass judgment over the incident involving Minister Mervyn Silva and Sirasa TV and advised police to be impartial and to report matters to court.

Government Minister organises anti-media protest and calls for ban on TV station


 The Free Media Movement (FMM) notes that brutish Government Minister Mervyn Silva organized a protest against the MBC network’s Sirasa television station in Colombo on 11th August 2008. Around one hundred men, women and children were bussed in to the city centre from the Minister’s constituency of Kelaniya. The protest was given wide publicity by all State media justifying the allegations made by the Minister against the private media station in their commentary and reportage. 

 Amongst the Minister’s demands was a ban on the Sirasa TV station. Sirasa TV coverage has consistently covered this Minister’s violence against the media, most notably the attack against State owned TV broadcaster Rupavahini in December 2007. For this, the station has borne the brunt of the Minister’s wrath, with journalists repeatedly abused and violently attacked at public functions that it has covered with the Minister present.

 Supporters of the Minister at the orchestrated rally in Colombo shouted slogans that said they were the indomitable force of the President and alleged that the Sirasa television station is pro-LTTE.

This allegation has been repeatedly levelled against all critics of the Government and protest movements including trade unions, for a range of initiatives agitating for higher wages and human rights protection. Although several complaints have been made by Sirasa TV against the Minister, none of them have been investigated in any meaningful manner. 

 The FMM considers the disingenuous rally and spurious allegations by the Minister as a continuation of his attacks against independent journalists in Sri Lanka. We note that this Minister, his supporters and those of his ilk in government enjoy the spoils of unprecedented impunity coupled with the inability and unwillingness of the President, the government and the Police to reign them in. As it is very clear that the Minister enjoys presidential patronage, the FMM holds the President and his government and president responsible for actions.

The FMM appeals to all democratic forces and political parties to campaign for the removal of Minister Mervyn Silva from the cabinet and to demand that Police initiate impartial and speedy investigations into all attacks against journalists by him.

Cage Mervyn Silva, the stray dog’ – protestors

(Lanka Dissent, Friday, 08 August 2008 16:52)   
Political parties, trade unions and civil society organizations today (Aug. 08th) demanded the government immediately ‘caged Mervyn Silva, the stray dog who bites journalists.’

The call came at a protest organized in Colombo by the Five Media, where a large number of participants vehemently condemned the Labour Minister for his continuous attacks against the media.

In the most recent incident, he and his supporters attacked two camera crew of Sirasa TV and snatched their equipment at an official function four days ago.

Among the political leaders who participated in the demonstration were Sri Lanka Freedom Party Mahajana Wing’s Mangala Samaraweera, United Socialist Party’s Sirithunga Jayasuriya and Wickramabahu Karunaratne of the Democratic Left Front.

The United National Party’s General Secretary Tissa Attanayake and MPs Dayasiri Jayasekara, Sagala Ratnayake, Ravi Karunanayake, Lakshman Seneviratne, Jayalath Jayawardena and Johnston Fernando were also present.

Co-convener of the August Fourth Movement Saman Ratnapriya, Chairman of the Ceylon Teachers Union Joseph Stalin and Former Convener of the Free Media Movement Sunanda Deshapriya also participated in the protest.

Carrying placards and shouting slogans against Mervyn Silva, the demonstrators marched from Kollupitiya Junction to the Police barriers at Liberty Roundabout close to Temple Trees.

Speaking here, President of the Working Journalists Association Sanath Balasuriya and political leaders stressed that the thuggery being unleashed by the Labour Minister was not a personal action.

They accused that President Mahinda Rajapaksa was protecting the Labour Minister and using him to repress the media, trade unions and political opponents.

The speakers said that they fired the first salvo against this organized repression, and warned of stronger action if the present regime led by President Rajapaksa did not halt their acts of thuggery and violence against the people.