18 September, 2019

Blog

Amid Sri Lankan Denial, Threats Rise For Journalists

By Bob Diez

Bob Dietz

In the wake of the U.N. Human Rights Council resolution calling for an investigation into Sri Lanka’s alleged abuses of international humanitarian law during its war with Tamil separatists, the government has resorted to outright threats of violence against journalists who might dare to return home after taking part in the Geneva discussions.

Thursday, CPJ called on the government to immediately halt its intimidation of journalists who supported the adoption of the HRC’s resolution. Several were labeled “traitors” on state-run television. One journalist previously denounced as a traitor was J.S. Tissainayagam, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison. After intense international pressure, he was released in May 2010 and now lives outside the country.

According to the pro-government Daily Mirror, “Minister of Public Relations Mervyn Silva warned that he will break the limbs of some journalists, who have gone abroad and made various statements against the country, if they dare to set foot in the country.”

“‘I’m the one who chased one of those journalists ‘Poddalajayantha’ out of this country. I will break the limbs of all these journalists, in public if they dare to set foot in the country,'” the Minister warned, the Daily Mirror said.

Threats from Silva, a former labor minister, have to be taken seriously. On December 27, 2007, accompanied by a large group of men, he stormed the state-run television station Sri Lanka Rupavahini Cooperation and assaulted the news director, T.M.G. Chandrasekara. The station’s staff held the minister and his supporters while police were summoned, and videotaped the minister’s apology for his actions. Silva was apparently angry because a speech he had delivered the previous day was not fully reported by the station.

Given the anti-media atmosphere being pumped up by the government, Silva will not have to apologize if his threat of violence should ever materialize:

Still smarting from the international slapdown it received in Geneva, another pro-government paper, The Island, termed India a “loser” for its backing of the resolution. “India has failed to carry Asia, or at least South Asia with it. In other words, Sri Lanka has won against India in Asia,” The Island said. China and Russia, long-term opponents of what they consider outside interference in countries’ internal affairs, voted against the Geneva resolution.

There are many issues that Sri Lanka will have to face in the coming months and years. These include economic growth, energy dependence, international status, and maintaining democratic institutions while the Rajapaksa government trends increasingly toward authoritarianism. But the greatest danger I see in the government’s inability to accept even a watered-down version of an international call for investigation into Sri Lanka’s efforts to end decades of ethnic violence, is that the rejection will become the issue that defines the country. Instead of emerging victorious and resilient after ending the hatred of so many years, Sri Lanka will continue to wear a shroud of failure for its inability to confront its unfortunate past and move into a new era. More than three years after the end of its national tragedy, Sri Lanka continues to fight battles domestically and internationally that should have ended with the declaration of victory on May 6, 2009.

*Bob Dietz, coordinator of CPJ’s Asia Program, has reported across the continent for news outlets such as CNN and Asiaweek. He has led numerous CPJ missions, including ones to Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka. Follow him on Twitter @cpjasia and Facebook @ CPJ Asia Desk.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 0
    0

    This Deputy minister Mervyn is the pet dog of the Rajapaksa Bros , let loose occasionally to bite at their opponents, President Rajapaksa should be held responsibility for this dog, in most western countries dog owners are fined for dogs act.
    other dogs in the Rajapaksa Kennel want to highlight themselves by barking ferociously at their opponents recently a new dog from Medirigiriya pradeshiya Sabah, openly threatened journalist that he will come in a white van & bite them hard if anyone found writing bad about his fraudulent activities, also another dog called Muthetti in Galle who goes mad & bites even from their own kennel, then Rajapaksa steps in cages him for a short while till he calms down let loose with a training not to bite at their own kennel.

  • 0
    0

    Bob,
    A simple question.If a journalist speaks against the murder of Unarmed Osama Bin Laden by the US Navy seals,will that journalist be able to walk just ten yards on a Washington road?Of course his head will be blown to bits.The excuse will that the gunman was mentally imbalanced.How about the phony rape case against Julian Assange?

    I believe in this instance you are refering to journalist in the caliber of Sunanda Deshapriya.For your information.Sunanda was born to an under privileged family.His religion was based on murder the “haves” and rob.Thus very early in his life he became a communist.Later he was a leading member of the JVP terrorist organization.In 1971 he was convicted of attempting to murder PM Madam Sirimavo Bandaranayake and fix her body in a lamp post.Later he was pardoned.With Communism in the back burner he came out with a left wing newspaper.As usual it was a failure.Then he came up with another gimmick in the form of “Free media Movement”.As usual he got kicked out for swindling millions of rupees.Now the former terrorist is a human rights promoter cum journalist living in Germany with money coming from various nefarious schemes.Bob,are you trying to tell us that we should protect these fraudsters who masquerade as journalists?

  • 0
    0

    Max, gets your facts right. ITN and that thug Mervyn did not refer only to Sunanda but to many others. In any event no one can be threatened with breaking their legs. My God!Have we become a nation of savages?

    You should be ashamed to try and justify this.

    • 0
      0

      Chandra,
      Not only Mervin the thug 99%peace loving Srilankans will turn thugs and beat the shit out of these scoundrels pretending to be journalists.They have the right to conspire to murder a head of state in the guise of war crimes.And you expect the Srilankan government to give them protection so that they could continue with their blackmail tactics?
      These Johnny come lately human rights activists cum journalists,namely Paki,Sunanda,Nimalka,Sunila and the rest of the vultures didn’t offer a single bottle of water to the displaced Tamils.They are shedding crocodile tears,for one reason.The reason being $$$$$$$$.

  • 0
    0

    Max, you says “I believe in this instance you are refering to journalist in the caliber of Sunanda Deshapriya For your information.Sunanda was born to an under privileged family.His religion was based on murder the “haves” and rob.Thus very early in his life he became a communist.Later he was a leading member of the JVP terrorist organization”

    FOR your info;
    not only 71, in 89 he was PRRA man too.

    • 0
      0

      Maxaaaaa,
      Who the hell is this jerk using a piece of my name?Are you so bankrupt that you don’t have any other alias that you could use?I might as well get a patent license to protect my distinguished name.
      PRRA or whatever it is, Sunanda is a retired terrorist(due to old age,forget holding a Galkatas,the bugger is so weak that he can’t even piss on a straight line). Now the bugger’s business is blackmail.Journalist!Kiss my”a..”.

  • 0
    0

    Uncle Bob, get the facts correct, “According to the pro-government Daily Mirror,…” what nonsense!! Daily Mirror owned by Ranjith Wijewardena, who is Opposition Leader Ranil W. and the farther of the Biyagama UNP organiser. again is the CPJ policy branding newspapers and media ?? pro government- anti government etc??? it’s the same like GSL branding certain media outfits “pro- LTTE ” or traitors.

    • 0
      0

      Daily Mirror is a “pro governemnt’ media.

      If it is against the government.. then it would have probably burnt down.

  • 0
    0

    This very website published this, read them Bob !

    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/?s=sunanda+deshapriya&x=10&y=9

  • 0
    0

    @Bob
    how do u say Daily mirror is pro government?

  • 0
    0

    It is not about Sunanda its about the right to disagree. Besides what happened to Lasantha Sri Lanka has a history of intimidating and killing journalists and those who disagree with the authorities. It did happened time to time even during the previous regimes. But it is only under this President the Govt Ministers are openly breaching the criminal law by naming and threatening to harm people who differ with the government. This is really a shame, Mervin Silva should be arrested and charged immediately for threatening to criminally harm dissenting people. No wonder we need international assistance to maintain law and order in our country.

    • 0
      0

      You’ve said it right.

  • 0
    0

    We will like if we can pay Sighalam Journalists. They can tell lies for money. What

  • 0
    0

    1. Daily Mirror – not a pro government newspaper.

    2. Not a single community in Sri Lanka minority or majority holds even a little bit of respect for Mervyn Silva. He is more like a big joke.

    3. With pond scum like Mervyn Sri Lanka does not need any external enemies.

    4. Some of those people you refer to as journalists are NGO activists who write the occasional article and some of them have financial misappropriation charges and are generally held as lacking in credibility.

    5. Sri Lanka has a propagandist Government media which has not helped it’s cause at all.

    These are the facts. Feel sorry for CNN and Asiaweek because is this how you usually report?

    • 0
      0

      Bob,
      Don’t insult DR DR DR Marvin Silva. Every Full moon Poyaday He Is Observing Sil. May Be At Kelaniya Buddhist Temple,
      Some time with his Big boss .
      Trying Past Track To Nirvana.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 300 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically shut off on articles after 10 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.