22 September, 2020

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Enough Is More Than Enough

By Kath Noble

Kath Noble

We don’t seem to have learnt anything from the long list of journalists who have come under attack in Sri Lanka in recent years. Whenever an incident takes place, we do exactly the same things, and on each and every occasion, our response does nothing to prevent a recurrence.

The first step is condemnation. But why? Surely everybody agrees that it is wrong? Could anybody argue that the people who shot Faraz Shauketaly of The Sunday Leader on Friday did the right thing? No, so let’s not waste our time and energy. That such violence is appalling should be treated as so obvious that it simply doesn’t need to be said.

Then comes our dutiful reporting of what the President says about it, no matter how disingenuous his statement.

During the weekend, all newspapers in Sri Lanka were careful to inform the public that Mahinda Rajapaksa had ordered a special investigation into Friday’s shooting. How very nice of him. Has he instructed the IGP to appoint a special team? That’s reassuring. I can’t remember the last time he did that. Oh no, silly me, that’s what he does every time. That’s what he did when Lasantha Wickrematunge of The Sunday Leader was murdered in January 2009, when Poddala Jayantha of Dinamina was beaten up in June 2009, when Keith Noyahr of The Nation was attacked in May 2008, when Lal Mawalage of Rupavahini was knifed in January 2008 and when Prageeth Ekneligoda of Lanka-e-News went missing in January 2010. Every time.

And how many times have these extra special efforts brought results? That’s right, none at all.

Still, even The Sunday Leader decided to use the President’s declaration as the headline of the first piece that it posted on its website.

Let’s undertake here and now not to report any further such comments by any member of the Government until the perpetrator of at least one attack has been convicted and is rotting in jail for the rest of his miserable life. The headline should be ‘Nobody convicted for violence against journalists under Mahinda Rajapaksa’ not ‘Mahinda Rajapaksa orders a probe’. Come on, friends at The Daily Mirror and Ceylon Today, both of which followed the pattern set by The Sunday Leader!

Probes obviously have to happen when somebody is shot. They aren’t news, and they certainly aren’t worthy of mention in a headline.

The next step in our form book on responding to attacks on journalists, which at least some of us always seem to reach, is to raise the possibility that there was some other motive than stifling the freedom of the press.

This time, The Nation on Sunday has surpassed all previous efforts to suck up to Mahinda Rajapaksa, brazenly using the headline ‘Motive for attack shrouded in mystery’, while making sure to refer to Faraz not as a journalist but as a ‘journalist cum businessman’ with a ‘part-time journalistic career’. The funny thing is that his byline has appeared in Sri Lankan newspapers an awful lot more often than those of the ‘full-time journalists’ who produced that copy for The Nation on Sunday!

They went on to suggest that the shooting was actually the result of a land dispute.

However, they have absolutely no evidence of any such thing. Police sources just had to mention it is a possibility, and these ‘full-time journalists’ enthusiastically copied down what they said. The real mystery is why our colleagues at The Nation on Sunday don’t have time to run businesses, if that’s all there is to journalism! In case they hadn’t realised, everything is possible for exactly as long as we avoid looking for facts. There are several billion people who could possibly have shot Faraz. Even aliens will have to prove that they weren’t in Mount Lavinia on Friday before we can definitively rule them out.

That’s the whole point of a probe.

Until somebody is convicted, we can’t say for sure why it happened. So let’s not give credence to any more totally unfounded rumours that are so extraordinarily convenient for the Government.

If the Government really wants us to believe that press freedom isn’t a problem in Sri Lanka, it can very well prove it in a court of law. Why do we try so hard to help them?

Even years later, we are still at it.

The killing of Lasantha Wickrematunge of The Sunday Leader was a watershed moment for Sri Lankan journalists. He was one of the best known editors in the country and a personal friend of both Ranil Wickremasinghe and Mahinda Rajapaksa, and his was an English newspaper that was read by the diplomatic community and indeed throughout the world. But his assassins very easily got away with it.

If further attention was needed to his case, it was surely to expose the individuals who were responsible. But instead we are busy preparing their defence.

A month or so ago, Uvindu Kurukulasuriya published an article claiming that Lasantha Wickrematunge was targeted not because he ran a newspaper that regularly lambasted the Government but because he was an Indian spy! The mind boggles.

Apparently we don’t need proof when we accuse the dead. When the person isn’t around to defend himself, instead of proving that he was an Indian spy, we can just say that he was seen entering the house of an Indian diplomat, as if we didn’t know that it is both normal and necessary for journalists to interact with all kinds of people. That is how facts are uncovered! More extraordinarily still, when he can’t say otherwise, we can argue that he was killed because he told the Indian diplomat a ‘secret’ that was shared with him by Mahinda Rajapaksa, not only once again without proof but also without any idea what that ‘secret’ could be or why Mahinda Rajapaksa was so foolish as to tell it to an Opposition-supporting newspaper editor who could equally well have published it.

Lasantha Wickrematunge isn’t accused of being a Government spy, although he was also seen going to Temple Trees, because it obviously isn’t true.

The same piece slyly mentions that Poddala Jayantha was regarded by the American embassy as a key contact in Sri Lanka, implying once again with absolutely no basis that he too was more a spy than a journalist.

Now in the extremely unlikely event of anybody ever being tried for attacking either one of them, the accused might well claim that they were legitimate targets.

With enemies like these, the Government really doesn’t need friends!

Seriously guys, let’s smarten up.

Journalism is an absolutely miserable profession in Sri Lanka. If a journalist is honest, he earns little or nothing, and if he does his job well, he will at a minimum have to face near constant abuse from those who don’t like what he writes. And when he is a bit too successful and gets attacked, his friends and colleagues will dedicate themselves to discussing his faults, real and imagined, to convince people that he was never exactly a journalist anyway.

Frankly, only total lunatics need apply.

However, Sri Lanka needs journalists, and we need each other. So let’s try to stick together.

Given recent history, we are perfectly justified in assuming that Faraz Shauketaly was shot for his journalism. What’s more, we should make a point of looking back at his work and doing whatever we can to share it as widely as possible. We can hope that he will continue with it once he recovers, but he could no doubt do with some encouragement and support.

To that end, let’s turn to his most recent articles, several of which have focused on Lalith Kotelawala (17th February, 10th February, 27th January, 30th December). Faraz notes that when the Golden Key Credit Card Company collapsed, resulting in average losses of Rs. 2.7 million for more than 9,000 people, Chairman Lalith Kotelawala promised that they would be reimbursed very quickly. Indeed, this was the basis on which he was released from prison in 2009. However, although he somehow continues to live a life of luxury and his wife swans around upmarket areas of London, these unfortunate investors have still received no more than Rs. 200,000 each. The Central Bank under Ajith Nivard Cabraal, which for some reason disbanded an investigation into the company in 2006, claims that it had fulfilled its duty to the public by simply not including the company in the list of accredited financial institutions that it occasionally published.

Faraz has also written about a doctor in a private hospital who is alleged to have encouraged his patients to opt for unnecessary procedures, with the involvement of an unregistered foreign practitioner (February 3rd).

Prior to that came a series of pieces on coal imports, in which Faraz blames Ceylon Shipping Corporation Chairman Kanchana Ratwatte and former Minister of Power and Energy Champika Ranawaka for the loss of $10 million on a shipment that couldn’t be unloaded due to bad weather and was instead handed over without the necessary guarantees to a company that subsequently delivered a replacement that didn’t meet the quality standards of the Ceylon Electricity Board (6th January, 22nd December, 9th December, 24th November, 17th November, 10th November). He threatened to register a complaint with the Bribery Commission if action was not taken.

In addition, there have been articles on former National Savings Bank Chairman Pradeep Kariyawasam regarding the purchase of shares in The Finance Company for which he is already being investigated by the Bribery Commission following his wife’s falling out with the Government, and with regard to another incident during his tenure as Chairman of the Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation in 2010 (1st December, 10th November).

It is these issues that we should be discussing now.

We also have to remind the public of all the violence that journalists have faced in Sri Lanka, and how few consequences there have been. People have short memories, and letting them forget is simply not an option.

*Kath Noble’s column may be accessed online at http://kathnoble.wordpress.com/. She may be contacted at kathnoble99@gmail.com.

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    Journalists also compete with each other for their income via their employers, and they would hardly join hands unless a member meets with an unfortunate event.

    Journalists also have families, with children attending school, and spouses at home, with fires to burn and the need to put food on the table.

    Nobility and integrity comes with sacrifice and at a price. It is probably not practical to be both pragmatic and conscientious at the same time…

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      Many Thanks Kath Noble! Absolutely great stuff! Keep up the EXCELLENT WORK!
      My guess is that Pathala Champika’s, patron saint of Bodu Bala Sena (BS), with links to Gota the White van goon’s (and formally ex-general Sarath Fonseka) militia decided that they needed to get rid of a troublesome a Musalman Faraz, who was asking too many questions from the Sinhala Buddhist Gods of Lanka..
      You are absolutely right..Yes, indeed there should be a BLACKOUT on reporting or covering ANY of the CORRUPT DICTATOR, Mahinda Rajapassa’s events and speeches and those of his corrupt brothers and cronies who usually lie or BS because they are an uneducated moronic bunch who are only good at looting the gullible Sinahalaya modayas of Lanka – the minorities except of the Muslim Political clowns have seen through the Rajapassa SPIN and are not amused! that most of the MEDIA and Ranil Wickramasinghe are largely to blame for Rajapassa’s steam rolling towards dictatorship with little opposition..

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      Sunday Leader: I remember quite clearly the very first comment made by someone in the early latter half of last year: “So you are back as a supporter of MR” This infuriated Faraz as it was apparently the first article after long and he responded something like: “I am not like you hiding behind a pseudo nymph and e-mail but open as a book in my criticism.” His next couple of articles were getting stronger in its criticism of government especially “about the navy being deprived of an income because of “private security sea men” and of course Gota connection. This was immediately after the sale with Frederica still there. I have not read them after that.
      May he live to fight as a UK national.

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    Just imagine when the Buddhist monk was murdered in Moratuwa, the same night two convicts were murdered and Police arrested eight others on next day.

    Similarly when a drug dealer robbed Air Lanka Chief Madam Shiranthi Wickremasinghe’s brothers 4 million watch and rupees 40,000 in US Dollars, within three days the culprict was caught.

    How come some spies came fortnight before and asked from neighbors, whereabouts of Mr.Faraz Shauketaly and after two weeks three murderers came inside his home at 12 midnight and shot him and left in motorbikes without being caught by police is a mistry.

    There are Police petrol in every Junction at night at Mt.Lavinia, specially at the junctions and at hotel road.

    This is purely Alice in Jokers Wonderland state. Asking astrology from thief’s mother……….

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    “People have short memories, and letting them forget is simply not an option” Lets remember these souls as a part of the war-without- witnesses: Source – Tamil HR Paris
    Journalists Killed in Sri Lanka
    Shoba, O’liveechchu
    May 18 or 19, in Mullivaikkal, Sri Lanka
    Puniyamoorthy Sathiyamoorthy, freelance
    February 12, 2009, in Mullaitheevu district, Sri Lanka
    Lasantha Wickramatunga, The Sunday Leader
    January 8, 2009, in an area outside Colombo, Sri Lanka
    Rashmi Mohamed, Sirasa TV
    October 6, 2008, in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka
    Paranirupasingham Devakumar, News 1st
    May 28, 2008, in Jaffna, Sri Lanka
    Suresh Linbiyo, Voice of Tigers
    November 27, 2007, in Kilinochchi, Sri Lanka
    T. Tharmalingam, Voice of Tigers
    November 27, 2007, in Kilinochchi, Sri Lanka
    Isaivizhi Chempiyan, Voice of Tigers
    November 27, 2007, in Kilinochchi, Sri Lanka
    Selvarajah Rajeewarnam, Uthayan
    April 29, 2007, in Jaffna, Sri Lanka
    Subash Chandraboas, Nilam
    April 16, 2007, in an area near Vavuniya, Sri Lanka
    Subramaniyam Sugitharajah, Sudar Oli
    January 24, 2006, in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka
    Relangi Selvarajah, Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corp.
    August 12, 2005, in Colombo, Sri Lanka
    Dharmeratnam Sivaram, TamilNet and Daily Mirror
    April 29, 2005, in Colombo, Sri Lanka
    Lanka Jayasundara, Wijeya Publications
    December 11, 2004, in Colombo, Sri Lanka
    Bala Nadarajah Iyer, Thinamurasu and Thinakaran
    August 16, 2004, in Colombo, Sri Lanka
    Aiyathurai Nadesan, Virakesari
    May 31, 2004, in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka
    Mylvaganam Nimalarajan, BBC, Virakesari, Ravaya
    October 19, 2000, in Jaffna, Sri Lanka
    Anura Priyantha, Independent Television Network
    December 18, 1999, in Colombo, Sri Lanka
    Indika Pathinivasan, Maharaja Television Network
    December 18, 1999, in Colombo, Sri Lanka
    Sahadevan Nilakshan, Chaalaram
    August 1, 2007, in Jaffna, Sri Lanka
    Sinnathamby Sivamaharajah, Namathu Eelanadu
    August 20, 2006, in Jaffna, Sri Lanka
    Sampath Lakmal, Sathdina
    July 1, 2006, in Colombo, Sri Lanka
    Vasthian Anthony Mariyadas, Freelancer
    December 31, 1999, in Vavuniya, Sri Lanka
    Atputharajah Nadarajah, Thinamurusu
    November 2, 1999, in Colombo, Sri Lanka
    Rohana Kumara, Satana
    September 7, 1999, in Colombo, Sri Lanka

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    It is simply too difficult to work as a journalist in a Country where there is no proper law enforcement. There are no protections for journalists. It is therefore the hardest and most risky profession in Sri Lanka.

    There are too few in Sri Lanka today who can be called journalists. Most people in the guise of journalists are just media manipulators or misinformers either directly or indirectly doing the bidding of the current State.

    Let us admire those who are the few real journalists remaining in SL, and even Faraz compromised himself out of self interest by making a statement praising the President for his prompt action. When in fact it was just an act of damage control in the President’s own interest and not that of Faraz.

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    You will never learn
    Bensen

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      What?

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    Ms Noble, consider the following facts please.

    1.The man is a dual citizen of Sri Lanka and UK.
    2. There were three foreigners at his place at the time of the shooting
    3. It was the foreigners who took him to hospital
    4. Whoever who shot him has done it extremely kindly, he only has a minor wound on the neck!

    You are jumping up and down, instanly coming to the conclusion that it was Mahinda Rajapakse who did it! If you have information, go to the police and tell them what you know.

    We are sick and tired of reading baseless allegations against elected leaders of the country whose only crime is trying to rule the country the way the Sri Lankan people want, rather than dancing to the tune of white masters.

    People like you have no democratic base here and you are trying to impose your preferences on the vast majority of Sri Lankans.

    You are wasting your time pouring out such filth, and you should sit down and think.

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      Yes Rizv… Defend MR to the hilt while he patronizes the BBS and the JHU who’re out to destroy your people. You keep defending him ’til he comes to your doorstep and massacres your kids before your eyes. Defend him even while the majority of these Sinhala-Buddhist extremists justify the killing of your children much like they’re doing about Prabhakaran’s kid- “they’re all filth that needs to be wiped out”, they say. Go on, defend him. It’s not like you can actually listen to your own advice and “sit and think”- no, you need to be told what to think.

      People like you make me sick. You’d sell out your own kind to defend a madman. Next you’ll tell us Lasantha shot himself, muchlike Mervin Silva never tied that man to the tree.

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      We, Sri Lanka got rid of one terrorist to find another state funded Family of terrorists.

      Only the Size and energy of Mr.Faraz would have saved him from death.
      The amount of blood spilled by another small made guy could have ended up in death.

      Mr.Faraz withstood gunmens bullets due to sheer size and strength and the tussle he had with murderers made them run away.

      Also the God sent Tourists saved his life which we appreciate a lot.

      Now MARA personally talking to Faraz to cover up, shape and silence the matter.

      Someone should come up with a plan to have PERSONAL PROTECTION WEAPONS…..SUCH AS STUN GUNS, SMOKE BOMBS, PEPPER, ACID AND CHEMICAL SPRAY CANISTERS,SWISS KNIVES, BELT IRON CHAINS,BULLET PROOF VESTS AND ALARM DEVISES ETC, TO BE GIVEN TO THESE REPORTERS AND OTHER ACTIVISTS TO FIGHT WITH RAJAPAKSE MURDERERS GOONS AND TO ALERT THE PUBLIC WHEN THEY ARE IN DANGER.

      THIS IS A MUST TO ALL FOR THEIR OWN PERSONAL PROTECTION.

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    “Whoever who shot him has done it extremely kindly”. Now there’s an interesting concept!
    Perhaps he was an extremely bad shot!

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    The world Bank supports the government wholeheartedly. We are the Indonesia of the 21st Century.

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      World bank and IMF should give funds to these writers and human right activists to buy personal protection equipments and devises like the stuff I mentioned above for their own personal protection from Rajapakse thug murderers goons.

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    I occassionally scour through this site to see how the desperate are faring.

    Was wondering as to what ever happened to our progressive Sri Lankan “mate” (well, he mates us!) Padraig.

    Was unpleasantly surprised to see that he has crawled from under the rock to ask “what?” and crawled back!

    Good old Padraig has to remember tht he is not carrying out his orders just by ‘monitoring’, but needs to be proactive to help people like Kath Noble and others now that Frederica has achieved her ‘nirvana’ overseas, after working hard at it for decades.

    Come on Padraig, put your shoulder to it, or the realm is going to be taken over by others.

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      Where are you now Eejit? In Bataramulla or back in Sydney? You still have not responded to my friend request on Facebook. Stop playing hard to get you wicked tease!

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      Can you read, Eejit? Many times I have alerted you to what I wrote about Frederica and about the Leader but you still keep harping on in your foolishness.

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        I never left Battaramulla. Like Lion Larger too much!

        I don’t access my Facebook ços it has been hijacked by enemies. So I don’t know what you are talking about.

        I am following Frederica in her new abode, alright.

        By the way, is Kath Noble for real?

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          Lion Larger than life!

          Never left Bataramulla? what about Sydney?

          Don’t tell porkie pies!

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          How could such a sweetie as yourgoodself have enemies!!???

          Or put another way – why would anyone go to the trouble of hacking your Facebook account? No-one ever visits it!

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    Kath – what do you think of Malinda’s response to you in The Nation today? What do you think of Faraz’s article in the Leader? I have read this carefully and he does not seem to be accusing the government. Am I wrong?

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