22 October, 2020

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AHRC Condemns State Media Attack On Nimalka Fernando

The threats posed to the life of  Nimalka Fernando – a well-known trade unionist, political activist and a human rights defender – by the commercial channel of the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation on 4th November 2013,   is yet another instance of the stark and blatant abuse of the State Media to intimidate, harass and humiliate a person, purely due to political reasons

Dr. Nimalka Fernando

Dr. Nimalka Fernando

The full text of the complaint which Ms. Nimalka Fernando has made to the Inspector General of Police in Sri Lanka and other Sri Lankan authorities is reproduced below.

The manner in which the State media has been abused –  in this instance by the Chairman of the state media corporation himself –   demonstrates that no moral, nor ethical standards of any kind whatsoever is no longer being respected and in fact all such norms and standards are being openly flouted by the entire state media apparatus in Sri Lanka. This kind of broadcasting is a disgrace to any media institution anywhere in the world.   However, such disgraceful abuse is now the general and the usual practice of the Sri Lankan State Media. This could happen only with the complete approval of the Government of Mahinda Rajapaksa. Why a government that should – as one of its prime responsibilities – to uphold a moral and ethical ethos conducive to a social order and to maintain civilized standards, allows its very own media to descend into these lowest realms is itself indicative of the crisis of governance that has come to prevail in Sri Lanka. What the State media manifests with these actions is the culture of sheer street thuggery and the most despicable of habits that only criminals would resort to.

The sad aspect is that such behavior is not merely a manifestation of the perverseness on the part of particular individuals resorting to such practices but is by now a well-established political style and norm in the country. It is not the political style of a Government that strives to uphold an ethos of decency at all costs but rather a political style that is meant to rouse the worst instincts of in worst elements of the society.

What is the benefit a Government can achieve in allowing its own media to de-generate to such abysmal depths?  Surely, the benefits cannot be those promoting rational discourse and harmony among the people but instead the whole exercise is directed towards the generation of fear on the one hand and the arousal of the worst institutions among the listeners, on the other. In short,  by resorting to such media practices the Government itself has become the instigator of violence .

In all the societies in the world, the States try its utmost to develop the type of a societal ethos where violence is abhorred and where polite discourse is promoted and encouraged. On the one hand these Governments develop their systems of monitoring and overseeing to prevent the societies being exposed to media practices that bring down the moral and ethical ethos of such societies. There are methods of controlling discipline which will ensure that no room is allowed for such abuses and at the same time fosters better media practices which encourages active rational discourse and creates an ethos within which peaceful exchange of ideas –  however critical and controversial in nature they may be – are made possible. Such strivings by the Governments to maintain acceptable standards leads then to a selection process by which those journalists and broadcasters who are capable of raising the quality of their services are sustained and those who go in the opposite direction are pushed out of the system.

Ugly And Despicable

However, the Government of Sri Lanka pursues a completely a different kind of policy within the State Media.  Which results contrarily, in those who are capable of doing the most ugly and despicable acts which have the most negative effects in the society are maintained raised to the highest level in the system and those who represent the better side and whom add value to the profession – do not want to stay nowhere near the State Media institutions let alone being pushed out.

No Room for Justifiability

What makes the situation worse is that there is no room for justifiability whatsoever, on these matters, any more in Sri Lanka. The law suits containing allegations against the State Media – which have been in the recent past, brought up by some prominent lawyers on Contempt of Court, are all now being hushed up. Anyone who attempts to pursue justice are being punished. The obstacle created for justiciability is again a method of opening the floodgates of dirt, slander and abuse through the media institutions.

So we ask the question, where does Sri Lanka stand now, on the issue of civilization? If the State itself is involved in crushing the civilization which the State is entrusted to protect , what little possibility exists within such a society to defend decency  and basically what chance is there of protecting a human ethos.

This instance of another attack of the lowest type by the State Media in Sri Lanka should again be an occasion for the Sri Lankan society to take a look in the mirror. Where are we descending to?

The Asian Human Rights Commission fervently condemns this attack on Nimalka Fernando and asks the President himself to scrutinize the state of his own government’s State Media.

The Statement made to IGP

Events leading up to death threats to Nimalka Fernando and other human rights defenders and political activists

On 25th October Ms. Maheesha Mudugamuwa of the Island newspaper asked me to comment on three questions — The report of the health ministry which indicated that there are over 40,000 sex workers, my views related to abortion and increase of AIDs patients in Sri Lanka. She posed these questions one by one.

Commenting I appreciated the categorization used by the health authorities saying this will help protect the sex workers who are normally harassed under the Vagrance Ordinance of Sri Lanka which should be abolished. I also informed her not to use the word prostitution since the reporter continued to use this terminology. I told her that as a women’s rights activist I do not use the word prostitution. I also called for the abolition of abortion laws in Sri Lanka and called for safe sex and promoting a more protective reproductive health approach in Sri Lanka. I also emphasized that in view of the GOSL promoting Casino based economic ventures and a leisure industry there has to be protection since with all this we have to understand that sex industry will creep into Sri Lanka. She wrote her article with the caption ‘Call for Legalising Prostitution’ for the newspaper on 27th October. Following this article another reporter from the Mawbima (the Nation) asked for a clarification and he too wrote an article with the caption Legalise Prostitution’. These two newspaper articles became the centre piece of the debates in few newspapers while those for and against initiated a public debate. I am attaching the Island news report. The link to Ceylon Today Protecting the sex workers Link: http://www.cevlontodav.Ik/59. 46646-news-detail-protecting-the-sex-workers.html

Several FM channels got me to clarify my statement and I also had an opportunity to engage in a public debate over one of the FM channels with the Secretary of the JHU (Buddhist monk lead political party in Sri Lanka) since they issued a press statement related to my position attacking me of destroying culture and traditional norms of Sri Lanka. I valued this debate since we had a good discussion and he never threatened me even though I had expected a virulent debate.

Several days later one of the TV Channels Hiru which belongs to the brother of one of the UPFA Member of Parliament (Duminda Silva who is one of the accused of the murder of Bharatha Lakshman a senior UPFA politician in October 2011) requested me to give few comments under their segment titled HARD TALK. Of course some questions were very personal but I answered them straight. I also listened to this segment which was relayed on Sunday 3 November during the main news bulletin.

On 4th Monday morning I began to receive many calls in the morning informing me that there is a radio programme in the SLBC which is using my voice cut and making derogatory statements and using words like ‘must eliminate her’. The callers were so agitated that I was compelled to switch on the radio. This was around 9.00 am. The above is the synopsis of the complaint I forwarded to the Human Rights Commission and the Inspector General of Police requesting (a) for an inquiry and investigation for committing a criminal offence (b) violation of my fundamental rights (c) requesting that the tapes be secured for proof since this will provide information of the callers and their telephone numbers.

Threats against Nimalka Fernando’s life and other human rights defenders through state media lB Reference: IMP/PAC/O/1140/13(Police Complaint Number)

The radio programme titled Rata Yana Atha (The way country is forging ahead) broadcasted in the Commercial Channel of the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation on 4th November 2013 was based on a voice cut given by me to the Hiru TV to be relayed in the HARD TALK segment during the daily news bulletin. I had listened to the original version of the HARD TALK relayed on Sunday 3 of November by HIRU TV.

On 4th November morning I received several telephone calls from friends and relatives stating that a statement made by me to HIRU TV is being used in a radio programme of the SLBC in an improper manner including causing threat to my life. According to them what was said in this programme was going to cause a real danger to my life.

Since the telephone calls received were of serious nature taking note of their concerns I decided to switch on the radio to listen to this particular programme around 9.00 am on the 4th. I listened to the programme for about 30 minutes. What I heard was so violent, defamatory and stressful and I had no mental strength to continue to listen any further. The synopsis of what I heard is given below:

The main title of the Programme was ‘Stoning the Sinner Woman’

Broadcast: Sections of what I said in the Hard Talk interview

‘59 years old…divorced….serving 30 organisations…about Rs 100,000…since 1989 carried tales….’

From the studio voice of Mr Hudson Samarasinghe Chairman of the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation

“See what she has done”

Then calls were taken. I am writing only what I remember though much more abusive and defaming statements were made by the callers, Mr Hudson Samarasinghe and a person called Gayan who was present in the studio as the compeer of the programme:

Call 1: “We cannot allow persons like Nimalka Fernando to live in this society”

Call 2: “We use insecticides to eliminate the spread of mosquitoes. Some mosquitoes develop a resistance to such spray. These people are like that. We have to find a method to destroy them.”

Call 3: “If we do something to them the government will be blamed by the human rights people. We should use a lorry and cause an accident.”

Call 4: “There is something call cleaning in the army. Mr Gotabaya knows this. We should hand her over to the cleaning system.”

Call 5: “Chairperson, today you have started a good activity. Continue this upto March 2014 and begin to deal with the NGO clan one by one.”

While callers were making such statements Mr Hudson Samarasinghe was actively involved in supporting the ideas expressed to eliminate me. The words he used welcomed such ideas as well as endorsed them. The person called Gayan too (present in the studio) joined him agreeing to the ideas and facilitated the calls.

Most of the callers were men. During the 30 minutes at least 3 of them identified themselves as those who had served the armed forces and retired. Another caller said that he has a friend who was injured during the war.

Some callers also mentioned names of Vickramabahu and Lal Kantha who are political leaders in Sri Lanka who have expressed fearlessly their positions publicly. They were of the view that ‘the society has not taken action against them’.

Mr Hudson Samarasinghe who is the Chairman of the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation did not stop the callers from making offensive and derogatory statement nor spreading such violent ideas against me. He did not disassociated himself from these comments which called for my annihilation. I heard a caller referring to me as a prostitute. The Chairperson of the SLBC encouraged all these comments and further encouraged openly defamation and my annihilation.

The totality of this programme is the creation of a dialogue through a government media to destroy my life.

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Latest comments

  • 3
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    Hudson Samarasinghe is a bigger Prostitute than any other out there. Actually we should not insult hard working prostitutes by calling Hudda a prostitute.

    • 0
      1

      Andew Morton received death threats when his book on Diana was published . His office was burgled and manuscripts were taken . WHERE WAS AHRC hiding then ?The first edition in the serialisation had to be printed in FINLAND ,AND NOT IN THE UK . NIMALKA MUST THINK THAT SHE IS THE ONLY PERSON ON EARTH WHO GETS THREATS . hopefully you will get the idea now .

    • 2
      0

      Husdon can be [Edited out]

  • 1
    0

    NGO dollar speaking

    • 0
      1

      Hey Gonwahanse, day before you guys accused Cameron being on Diasphora agendas. Yesterday, China made it clear about their position in terms your thug´s behaviour towards humanity. Now with 3 other veto powers to express their views of your MAGIC MAN (tsunami embazzeler, multi murderer, but a so called buddhist) Are u still on the same opnion to put everyone in the same category – accusing them to have been dollar greedy ?
      When would you guys start listening to you belly feeling man ?

      It is stinking over here :(

    • 0
      4

      Nimalka should be grateful to Hadda.She will get more $$$$$.I have this funny feeling that Nimalka and Hudda hatched something strange.The same age.Are they planning to runaway?Nimalka and Hudda the perfect couple.Ohh!hudda!take me take me!

  • 2
    0

    This Hadu Samarasinghe carried tales to Premadasa against Sirisena Cooray. Then Sirisena Cooray got a hand bomb thrown at Hadda but Hadda managed to escape and was very quiet after that. Now the Kanu Kata is running the Laundry of MR, degrading anyone pointing any faults of MR. This Hadda got caught very badly setting up callers when he was involved with Shan at TNL. One day this bugger will die, his mouth infested with maggots.

  • 1
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    These people must be identified and prosecuted by THE STATE not protected. The list gets longer and longer by the day.

    • 0
      2

      Have you forgotten that you are living in mahinda’s Srilanka?

      • 0
        1

        What men this nonsense? Why no one not action taking to stop this bladdy Shamearasinghe bugger. He talking murder no ? On state radio even ? What happening? why gornment also encurajing murder talk on there one radio? that meaning gornment only is doing this no?

        This i am telling is first time gornment using radio people to thretten merder in whole world.

        no any proof we need no to show rajapakse is true desprate killer.

        must sent this story to Navi pillai also for now action as soon as once.

        this telling only ‘hate speech’ no ? so what that bugger vasudeva nanakkara doing that bugger shit. what that Mohan de Silva not anything doing shameful cowered. bugger frightening of mahinda bugger.

        • 0
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          Boss your tail is up!

    • 1
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      if rajapaksa doing that i eating his shit like samarasingha bugger now eating…that why peoples are telling he is ‘gandaya”. he worst shameless newsman in earth.lake house bodinagoda now died but 1989 doing job with bugger’s wife for interduction to JR. i am then lake House and us all know well about shamearasinghe.Now lake House have nother [Edited out] name Rajapal abeynayaka horty bastard copiying from libary magazine and writing. bugger not jornalist. we know very well.

      • 0
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        Come on Hudda![Edited out]

      • 0
        0

        You should ask that from [Edited out]

  • 0
    0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy
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  • 3
    1

    I have known Nimalka for many years. She is a courageous person who stands up against injustice and has done a great deal to help victims of tsunamis, droughts, and to help womens advancement.

    I do not agree will all her politics (eg moving farther away from the left and towards the UNP) but that’s another matter and its her democratic right.

    If we do not stand up and fight against this kind of lynch mob, any one of us may be the next victim.

  • 0
    1

    I too , am not a fan of Nimalka Fernando and her politics . At one stage she was a strong LTTE sympathiser ,ignoring the fact that they blatantly violated the fundamental human rights of women and children – two issues she claims to be very close to her heart.

    However I believe she is a good human being ,though perhaps mis-guided at times . Her right to free speech , and her very existence , should be safeguarded at all times , and ranting lunatics who promote violence aginst the defenceless should be severely dealt with.

  • 1
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    We have to wait and see what action the Banana Republic Police would take against the Complaint made by her. MarChris

  • 0
    1

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy
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  • 1
    1

    Poor Hudson is worser than the street hookers you find outside the Fort Raily station

    • 0
      1

      Again then who is Nimalka?

  • 0
    1

    Well said Hudson!

    Just desserts.

  • 0
    1

    Iam fooling you guys.

    These are my cards.

    War hero
    Mother Lanka
    Diaspora
    LTTE
    TNA
    India
    USA
    UK
    UN
    EU
    Channel 4
    I have more cards but I wont tell you guys

    Be with me I will save the country from external force.

    I have made enough money. I don’t care any more

  • 0
    1

    x
    British Government MP and former Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt says it will be better for Sri Lanka if the government listens to what was being said by so many, rather than offer knee-jerk defensive responses.

    In a blog post today, the MP said that the decision by Prime Minister David Cameron to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting was difficult but right, and was vindicated by the media coverage of his visit to the north of Sri Lanka, the first foreign leader to so do since 1948.

    However Burt says that was just the easy part. He says it will be harden for Britain, but even more important, to work with friends of Sri Lanka to demonstrate why a positive response from Sri Lanka, driving forward the recommendations of its own Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission and tackling accountability for the past, does not denigrate ending the appalling terrorism of the Tamil Tigers but lays the base for the only serious chance of reconciliation in the future.

    “It would help if Sri Lanka and its representatives actually listened to what was being said by so many, rather than offer knee-jerk defensive responses,” he concluded. (Colombo Gazette)

  • 0
    1

    What Nimalka must understand is the level of freedom of speech that is available in SL . Must make it a point to emphasise this at the next Geneva summit .

  • 0
    2

    Nimalka has all rights to say what she thinks correct.She has her right to express.In the mean time others also have rights to to place their views without using filthy languages. I agree with Nimalka that sex workers should not be called prostitutes(“Vesa Genu” in Sinhalese)I also agree that women should have the choice to have or leave pregnancy( Baby)There are barbarians still live in jungles deny these rights.

    The MARA regime has no right to use the state media for its own purposes by violating all norms and principles of media ethics.It is true that people like Hadson are not belonging to this decent category. He was appointed to attack Mara’s political opponents using filthy languages.All most all sate media persons are compelled to be Mara’s henchmen. The trade union members in state media are oppressed.

    It is unfair to expect VASUDEVA to come for the risque for Nimalka. Vasu is the henchmen of MARA. He never stand for justice other than uttering some words time to time.He supported 18th amendment in parliament that gives unlimited power to MARA to do what ever he wants for him and his family mainly Money making and using of unlimited power over civilians by using state security establishments and personnel etc.

    It is obvious that people seek international support to protect their rights when there is no space for them to obtain redress within the country. They will work with international media,mechanisms,governments etc for this purpose.Nimalka is unique and brave when comparing with impotent men( ) who serve for bad king MARA for money.

  • 0
    1

    When day light breaks over Sri Lanka most household are tuned to Pirith Chanting by the Buddhist Monks on Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation. This kind of chantings put the mind at ease with inner peace. That is what they say.

    After the Pirith and blessings, on SLBC, all hell break loose when the Chairman of SLBC takes to the Microphone. This is a kind of a free for all program with pre-determined callers agreeing with what the Chairman throw up as verbal diarrhea which makes the ‘yes men’ of Rajapaksa clan rolling on this diarrhea shouting ‘Give us more’.

    What do one expect from a group of macho men who rejoiced when a carcass of 3 dogs were placed on Prabhakarahn’s mother grave. How low can this Chairman Karaya and the Rajapaksa clan go? They say we have a 2600 year old culture and traditions.

  • 0
    1

    Prostitution is the oldest profession!
    Politicians must have a thorough knowledge of that
    and why they throw stones?

  • 1
    0

    Who were these ladies , where they were during Prabakarans era. What they said about that thousands of inersent Child’s, Women s, People killed by Prabas killers,were they earn Dollars or Pounds by these kind of protests.

  • 0
    0

    This woman should be deported. We don’t need to legalize protitution! That’s against our culture. Prostitutes are a menace to the society, breaking families and spreading aids. What can you expect from a woman who sleeps with vasu? She’s [Edited out]

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