Minister Rishad Bathiudeen today sent a Letter of Demand seeking $ 3.8 Million (Rs 500 Million) in compensation for defamatory statements made by the Bodu Bala Sena.
Minister Bathiudeen’s LoD is addressed to the BBS secratery monk Galagodaatte Gnanasara.
“In the aftermath of the end of war thanks to the President Mahinda Rajapaksa, we Muslims were looking forward to a new beginning. But we are facing new problems. After more than 20 years, these Muslim IDPs are not re-settled yet. Many Mosques and Muslim schools in their places of origin stand destroyed. We do not get any support from anyone on this resettlement. Meanwhile, I have been wrongly accused of destruction of the Wilpattu National Park, creating an exclusive Muslim Zone from Wilpattu to Mannar and creating an ‘arab colony’ in Sri Lanka in the Mannar – Wilpattu area” said Minister Bathiudeen, and added: “These are clearly defamatory. And they are intended to create anti-Muslim feelings. I demand an apology for these false statements from BBS and if no apology is made to me or no retraction is made in the next two weeks, I ask BBS for $ 3.8 Mn in compensation. If no compensation is made, then I will institute legal proceedings.”
Minister Bathiudeen’s Letter of Demand through Attorney at Law Ravindra Jayalath, Colombo 12, is reproduced below in full;
Ravindra Jayalath-Attorney at Law
March 24th, 2014
Reverend Galagodawatte Gnanasara Thero
Secretary – General
Bodu Bala Sena
Sri Sambuddha Jayanthi Mawatha,
Dear Reverend Sir,
Defamatory Statements made against Honourable Minister Rishad Bathiudeen M P – Minister of Industry and Commerce
I am instructed by my client the Honourable Minister of Industry and Commerce and Member of Parliament Minister Rishad Bathiudeen C37 Stanmore Crescent, Colombo 7.
My client has been made aware that at a press conference held in Colombo in or around March 20th, 2014 you have stated that;
a. My client is responsible for the destruction of the Wilpattu National Park.
b. My client has created an exclusive Muslim Zone from Wilpattu to Mannar;
c. My client is attempting to create a ‘arab colony’ in Sri Lanka in the Mannar – Wilpattu area;
d. My client is engaging in an ‘invasion’ of Sri Lanka by building houses for Muslims in the Northern Province.
e. My client was a person who threw stones at courts and obstructed the course of justice.
These statements made by you received very wide publicity and was published in several national newspapers in all three national languages and carried in several news and other websites. Furthermore your press briefing was broadcast on the prime time news broadcasts on several local television stations and with videos made available online.
My client instructs me that the statements made you are entirely false and defamatory and have been made by you with absolute disregard for truth or accuracy, maliciously and with intent to defame my client and/or negligently.
My client also instructs me that you have made these false statements because my client is a Muslim and you pursue an objective of creating anti-Muslim feelings, hatred and contempt for Muslims and my client within the general public.
Returning people displaced by the three decade war to their original homes and lands is a key policy objective of the United People’s Freedom Alliance Government of His Excellency President Mahinda Rajapakse in which Government I serve as member of Cabinet and support as a Member of Parliament.
Therefore my client categorically denies all the allegations made by you against my client at the afore stated press conference and states that all housing projects for Muslims in the North have been done with the support and concurrence of the Government of Sri Lanka with no damage and/or harm to any part of the Wilpattu National Park.
You are entirely wrong to state that there is or even an attempt to create an exclusive zone for Muslims from Wilpattu to Mannar. Further your statement that my client is attempting to create an ‘arab colony’ or is engaging in an invasion is also false and made with express malice and with intent to create hatred and suspicion of Muslims.
All Muslims who have received houses under projects supported by my client are refugees and their families who are returning to the Northern Province after more than twenty years living in refugee camps following their forcible expulsion from the Northern Province by the LTTE.
Your lack of good faith is demonstrates in that you have at no time sought to get any explanation and/or clarification of these matters from my client and you are well aware that you are making a false statement.
Your implication that my client was a person who attacked court houses and obstructed the course of justice is also entirely false, defamatory and made with malice.
These statements are per se defamatory of our client and also defamatory by innuendo and have been made with intent to defame, injure the reputation of my client, as a person, as a politician and as a statesman, hurt his feelings, subject him to ridicule and disrespect and with express malice.
In the aforesaid circumstances my client has suffered loss and damage which he estimates at Rs.500,000,000/- (Rupees Five Hundred Million).
We are instructed to demand and demand is hereby made from you to;
(a) forthwith cease and desist from making false and malicious statements against my client;
(b) tender an apology to my client and retract the tenor, slant and false contents of the statements made by you referred to above.
I am further instructed to and I hereby demand that you pay my client the said sum of Rs.500,000,000/- within two weeks from the date hereof in the event of your failure to tender an apology to my client and retract the tenor, slant and false contents of the statements made by you referred to above
In the event of your failure to so pay my client the said sum of Rs.500,000,000/-( Rupees Five Hundred Million) within two weeks from the date hereof I have further instructions to institute legal proceedings against you for the recovery of a sum of Rs.500,000,000/- (Rupees Five Hundred Million).
Attorney at Law”