(Lanka-e-News - 20.Nov.2017, 4.00PM) A celebrated journalist Poddala Jayantha addressing a letter to the president in connection with the current media suppression in the country , emphatically pointed out to the president there should be a limit to his ingratitude.The full text of the letter is hereunder …
President of Sri Lanka
Dear Sir ,
You were a permanent share holder of the Mahinda Rajapakse’s despotic reign before you left him . At your first media briefing you announced to the country you had to take that step because you could not bear to see the thousands of crimes committed by the rulers including the atrocities, murders , abductions , monumental frauds , corruption , and media suppression.
You also pledged to restore democracy and all the rights of the people immediately that were destroyed while joining in the struggle against the dictatorial rule.
You also said in no uncertain terms if a country’s Democracy is to be safeguarded , media freedom should exist and be protected . Besides ,you repeatedly promised that investigations shall be launched immediately against the attacks launched on journalists and media Institutions under the previous regime , while assuring on several occasions that laws shall be enforced against the criminals .
The Civil organizations ,the social media and law abiding citizens in their thousands rallied around you trusting your so many pledges. Based on the presidential election results , that number is about 6.2 million. These groups rallied around you not because you were the secretary of the SLFP , or you made a proposal that 80 % of cigarette packets should carry pictorial warnings during the Rajapakse era , but because there was a need to have a common candidate to oust the brutal Rajapakse administration.
Mr.Maithripala Sirisena the president …
For the last nearly three years since your becoming the president , except two or three crimes you have not even conducted a proper probe into the others. Not only you have allowed room to bury those crimes , but now under your own leadership the villainous ‘firing of guns’ had begun on the same lines as was before at its initial stages.
I am addressing this open letter to remind you of the past.
The necessity to send this letter to you hurriedly is because of your direct order ( I am aware you have given a direct order according to what you have told a certain minister) recently issued to ban Lanka e News website within SL. We know based on our experience this is not going to be the first ban or the last.
In order to sit in the presidential chair, like how you ‘sold’ the past crimes committed in the country you sold the crimes committed in respect of the media. While selling the crimes committed on the media , you sold the other journalists including the writer who were victims of the crimes.
We remained silent assuming your ‘sale’ of the media is to restore the eroded Democracy in the country .
If an elaboration is to be made on to what extent the ‘sale ‘ was conducted - you used even the presidential election platform and the other platforms . Besides , you took advantage of the Rajapakse media suppression including the Lasantha Wickremetunge murder , Prageeth Ekneliyagoda‘s disappearance , abduction of myself and Keith Noyahr, tortures committed , attack on UpaliTennekoon , Lanka e News portal that was reduced to ashes, and highlighted the bomb attacks to propel yourself.
In addition , the groups that joined to steer you to victory ,during the television debates went on chanting against and criticizing Rajapakse media erosion unrelentingly like how a magician uses a magic wand. Not only that , the advertisements which appeared in the electronic and print media to promote your election victory , carried photographs of the media suppression incidents involving the torture and abductions faced by most mass media personnel including the writer . This is why we said in the foregoing paragraphs you ‘sold’ us wholesale during your presidential campaign. This letter is written by one such victim who was a subject of ‘sale’ by you during your campaign.
Mr. president Maithripala Sirisena ….
During your election campaign you exploited the name of Prageeth Ekneliyagoda who went missing , and you mentioned his name a thousand times . Yet what did you say publicly in that regard even before one year had elapsed since you were installed as president ? You said , ‘everybody knows this case , war heroes are being detained for 8 months’ To you what mattered were the tears of the wives of the accused officers of the forces .
You forgot the tears and abysmal sufferings of Sandya the grieving widow of victim Ekneliyagoda and his two children who were visiting court after court carrying the photograph of late Ekneliyagoda for the last 7 long years , and in addition had to face the filthy abusive language of the rascals in robes at every turn.
Can there be a more ungrateful act in the world than turning your back on the victim’s family after your selling their tears and grief during the presidential elections to win the elections ?
The group including Mahinda Rajapakse are still saying , it was the social media chain that contributed most for their downfall. That very social media chain which made such a major contribution towards your victory has now become the target of your vicious vendetta. You have been consistently vilifying the social media while also once declaring ‘ I have told even my householders not to browse the websites’
Isn’t this absolute ingratitude ?
Of course the writer of this letter does not in any case agree , all the mass media within and outside the country are reporting the truth and unerringly. But that does not mean they are telling 100 % falsehoods. If anything has been misreported about you , it is the duty to get that corrected. If the correction is not being published , under the civil laws of the country it is possible to file a defamatory case. Instead of that simply banning and obstructing a media website is tantamount to media suppression. It is in other words a shameless attempt to cover up your faults .
Mr. President Maithripala Sirisena
What did you say to the country when you were sworn in as president ? You said you will abolish the executive presidency immediately . Even before the remains of Late most Ven. Maduluwawe SobithaThera who sacrificed his life to make you the president , you solemnly pledged on that occasion that you would end the executive presidency. But what is the position now ?
The SLFP which is under your leadership made its proposals that the executive presidency shall be retained .Weren’t those proposals made with your knowledge? When you are questioned about this , if you are getting ready to introduce fetters on the media freedom , and if you think the 6.2 million people who voted you into power will remain silent , you are laboring under a delusion .
It is the bitter truth that out of the 6.2 Million votes you received only I million SLFP votes , which stark fact you have forgotten today. The UNP in whatever situation has a permanent 4.5 million vote (approximately ) base .
At the last presidential elections even if all the votes of TNA, JVP, Muslim Congress were put together which the SLFP polled , those are hardly anything worth to talk about - an unenviable negligible number of votes.
Yet the manner in which you talk today , and the way the group which was fastened on to Mahinda Rajapakse even on January 7 th, 2015 , but now holding ministerial portfolios brag is, as though the 6.2 Million votes are those of the SLFP. This is why I am repeatedly saying you are most ungrateful.
Mr. President Maithripala Sirisena …
If the news report of Lanka e News about the eagerness to purchase the Russian warship is untrue , it is no big task to send an e mail promptly to make a correction. If son of Wijedasa Rajapakse is not being kept by you in your defense ministry as media secretary to give answers when such issues crop up , then is he there to make coffee beverage to drink ?
Without even sending a correction , and without giving an appropriate answer , let alone from the platform , banning Lanka e News within SL forces us to think based on that very action of yours that the report is true.
If Perpetual Treasuries Co. has made undue profits in the Treasury bond transaction, and if you allege that is a corrupt act , shouldn’t you also probe into the attempted purchase of an unsuitable warship from Russia at an exorbitant price despite the Navy putting the foot down and opposing it ,as well as into the state sponsorship that is being showered on the advertising Co. of your daughter ?
With the publication of the aforementioned incident , the other media must now be ‘thinking’ their media could be subjected to a ban. Though the right to information enactment has been introduced , fetters on it are imposed truly via the above mindset created and self imposed bans.
Mr. President Maithripala Sirisena
We have no personal disputes with you or your daughter . Neither do we have personal grudges against Mahinda Rajapakse or Gotabaya. Our concern is to safeguard Democracy and ensure the right to information of the tax paying people is not impeded.
Mass Media is a fourth state . It is the only medium available to make known to the masses the misdeeds of the Executive, legislature and the Judiciary . Hence that should be allowed to carry out its tasks independently and freely.
The issue for us is , you who came forward claiming and proclaiming that you will halt the media suppression that prevailed during the Rajapakse era , and promising solemnly to fortify the right to information of the people of the country , after your completion of just two years as president , taken over the media suppression as a tool yourself .
Unbelievably , your actions are more lethal than what Mahinda Rajapakse resorted to. Mahinda banned news websites after obtaining a court order whereas you have imposed a ban on Lanka e News without any court order . Based on information received Rajapakses banned the website only by name. The website could be accessed through the IP number. Today you have even forbidden the IP number.
Like how the Rajapakses abducted in white Vans those who opposed them ,and did not accept responsibility , as regards the present ban no one is accepting the responsibility . Therefore these actions are most grave and ominous to country’s media freedom.
In the circumstances , let me make a final request to you .Ensure and have an independent mass media regulation within the country in order to make Democracy the bedrock of the free nation.
Former Secretary of Working Journalist's Association - Sri Lanka
by (2017-11-20 11:41:35)
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