In clear violation of instructions by President Sirisena and the government little less than three weeks ago to refrain from taking media along on search operations, it appears the military has once again welcomed media crews to tag along.
Media stations, particularly popular, private-owned television outlets started featuring footage of search operations since a few days back. The topic was widely discussed on Twitter today, when a news item aired by TV Derana, featured a raid on a Muslim owned home in Thakkiya Road, Negombo.
The search had been carried out on the home ‘with high walls’ where security forces had come across 28 children and four women and an individual claiming to be the head of the household and the father of the children.
It appeared as though the investigation was being led by the journalist instead of the military personnel. The segment featured the journalist directly questioning the home owner on how he manages to finance the upkeep of 28 children and four women claiming, ‘by the look of it, this land doesn’t look like it yields a revenue of even one rupee,” while military personnel looked on.
Meanwhile, several prominent journalists on Twitter revealed the military has been sending out SMS ‘invitations’ to witness cordon and search operations in various districts.
Sunday Observer Editor Dharisha Bastians tweeted today, a screenshot of the invitations shared by the military, pointing out its in direct violation of the instructions to security forces not to take media with them during search operations.
On May 6, the President and the government issued clear instructions to all media stations and journalists to avoid accompanying the military during search operations, in consideration of several requests made by civil society groups of potential violation of rights and privacy.