By Colombo Telegraph –
Issuing a press statement resigned Ceylon Today Deputy editors and Journalist explain the sequence of events which occurred at the Ceylon Today. We reproduce their letter below. The Colombo Telegraph has spoken to Executive Director of Ceylon Newspapers Dushyantha Basnayake last Friday and he promised to send us their version of the story, but we haven’t received it yet.
In light of allegations and assumptions being made about the sacking of Ceylon Today Editor in Chief Lalith Allahakkoon and our subsequent decision to resign in protest of the management’s move, this is to clarify the issues that led to us making the decision to quit and the events that followed.
- On the evening of Tuesday, June 12, Rasika Jayakody was summoned by Tiran Alles and was told that his services would be terminated.
- Half an hour later, he was summoned again by Alles and told that his services would not be terminated.
- On the night of Wednesday, June 13, Lalith Allahkkoon was summoned for a meeting by Executive Director Dushyantha Basnayake, and told that his services were terminated.
- On the morning of Thursday, June 14, Hana Ibrahim had a meeting with editorial staff and informed the staff that the management has decided to terminate the services of Lalith Allahkkoon, and urged the support of the staff.
- On Thursday, June 14, Dushyantha Basnayake held a meeting with all department heads and informed them that Lalith Allahkkoon’s services were terminated and Hana Ibrahim would be in charge. He said that Tiran Alles would go into further detail when he arrives at work the following Monday (19).
- On Thursday, June 14, Hana Ibrahim held a meeting with Dharisha Bastians and Wilson Gnanadass, and told them they should provide their fullest support to the paper.
- At 1 p.m. on Thursday June 14 Dushyantha Basnayake summoned former Deputy Editor Dharisha Bastians to his office and informed her that Tiran Alles had asked him to urge her to remain at Ceylon Today and provided personal assurances that her work would not be interfered with. Dharisha informed Basnayake that she could not agree with the manner in which the management had decided to dismiss Lalith Allahakkoon nor the reasons provided for his dismissal and would therefore have to make a decision about her future at Ceylon Today as soon as possible.
- The four journalists then telephoned Mr. Allhakkoon to confirm whether his services had in fact been terminated. Mr. Allahakkoon confirmed that Mr. Basnayake had communicated that the management had asked him to leave on Wednesday (June 13) night.
- On Thursday, June 14, Dushyantha Basnayake assured Lalith Allahkkoon that the letter of termination would be delivered to his home on the following day. Dharisha Bastians, Rasika Jayakody and Dinidu de Alwis were in the office of Lalith Allahkkoon when the phone call was made and the assurance provided.
- On Thursday, June 14, Dharisha Bastians, Wilson Gnanadass, Rasika Jayakody and Dinidu de Alwis tendered their resignation letters to Hana Ibrahim in protest of Allahakkoon’s sacking. She urged the four of them to reconsider the resignations, and stated that she would not be accepting their letters. At the time, Ibrahim assured the four journalists that she was deeply sympathetic to their stand, and informed them that had it not been for her commitments she would be standing with them in opposing the management’s actions. She also assured the resigning journalists that she would do everything within her power to fight for Lalith Allahakkoon’s reinstatement.
- On Friday, June 15, Dharisha Bastians, Wilson Gnanadass, Rasika Jayakody and Dinidu de Alwis were asked via telephone call to hand over ID badges, visiting cards, cars, computers and voice recorders which were under their custody.
- On Saturday, June 16, multiple sources confirmed that Hana Ibrahim had attempted to influence the Free Media Movement to prevent them from issuing statements regarding the sacking of Lalith Allahkkoon. The Free Media Movement has since met and consulted several times and is scheduled to release a statement on the matter shortly.
- On Tuesday, June 19, Wilson Gnanadass, Rasika Jayakody and Dinidu de Alwis had the acceptance of their resignation letters delivered to their homes through courier.
- Information is now reaching us that Tiran Alles and the management of Ceylon Newspapers are allegedly engaged in attempts to tarnish the reputations of the journalists who quit in protest of Allahakkoon’s removal and the veteran editor himself.
For further clarification please do not hesitate to contact Wilson Gnanadass, Rasika Jayakody (0773435421) Dinidu De Alwis (0777599211) or Dharisha Bastians (0771921558)
Dinidu De Alwis