2 December, 2020

Blog

Sri Lankan Editor Needs Backup After Minister’s Tirade

By Bob Dietz –

Bob Dietz

As far as Frederica Jansz is concerned, “The Sri Lankan media have been completely cowed into submission by this regime with the exception of The Sunday Leader. It is Mahinda Rajapaksa’s biggest success story next to winning the war.”

Jansz is the Leader‘s editor who, over the weekend, had the temerity to call up the president’s brother, Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, and ask him “to clarify and find out if he was aware that the management at SriLankan Airlines had taken a decision to change a wide bodied A340 scheduled to fly to Zurich on Friday July 13, to a smaller A330. The change was to be made so that a SriLankan Airline pilot, who is dating a niece of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, could personally fly the aircraft that would carry a ‘puppy dog’ for Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa from  Zurich,” to quote the Leader‘s lead.

The question apparently did not go down well with the defense secretary. Jansz reported his lengthy, abusive response fully in the Leader, and you can read it at “Gota Goes Berserk.” Beware: It’s a verbatim account filled with the obscenities Jansz says the minister heaped on her. (CPJ emailed and called the defense ministry seeking Rajapaksa’s side of the story; the email went unanswered. On the phone, after I identified myself to someone and asked to speak to the minister, that someone hung up. Subsequent calls went unanswered).

This is more than a juicy story of a government official behaving badly. It is a first-hand account of something that many Sri Lankan journalists speak of privately, but few make public out of fear of retribution. CPJ research shows that threats–some delivered over the phone, some by text, some by word of mouth, some by firebomb or claymore mine,others by gangs of thugs wielding pipes and clubs–are a fact of life for many Sri Lankan journalists.

CPJ first wrote about Gotabaya Rajapaksa in 2007 (see “Government moves to re-enact criminal defamation law“). In May 2009, he ordered a Channel Four team deported back to Britain. “Gotabaya Rajapaksa is the second most powerful man in Sri Lanka, next to the president. He enjoys complete immunity coupled with the trappings of power equivalent to holding executive office,” Jansz told CPJ.

In January of this year, Sonali Samarasinghe, the widow of slain Leader editor Lasantha Wickramatunga, mentioned him in her statement marking the third anniversary of her husband’s death, “Sri Lanka’s democratic institutions have metastasized into something dangerous“–a headline which, for me, captures succinctly the state of Sri Lanka. Samarasinghe suggested Gotabaya Rajapaksa is part of the larger problem behind the “murders, abductions and assaults [that] are not random acts or accidental killings. These are acts of violence that have become emblematic of the current leadership, the erosion of society, and the impunity with which the regime now operates.”

In that statement, Samarasinghe called on the international community “to urge Sri Lanka’s government to hold a proper independent investigation into Lasantha’s murder.” CPJ has repeated that call many times in the cases of many other threats, attacks, arsons, and beatings directed at journalists and media organizations. After years of denials and legal obstruction, we have come not to expect action from the Sri Lankan government, but we try to get external peers–diplomats and the United Nations, mainly–to engage the government in a way that brings some sort of relief to the media community.

Jansz inherited the Leader‘s editorial position after Wickramatunga was killed by eight men on four motorcycles during morning rush hour on a busy Colombo road a few hundred yards from a military checkpoint. Despite interminable hearings, no prosecution has ever been launched in the case.  (CPJ’s 2009 investigation of that murder can be found at “Failure to Investigate.”) In her email communication with CPJ Monday, Jansz said “I fully expect some repercussion following yesterday’s publication, but in what form remains to be seen.”

CPJ is in touch with several diplomatic missions in Colombo. They should step into this situation before it gets worse.

CPJ

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 0
    0

    When it comes to shooting oneself in the foot the uneducated uncultured rascals are tops.
    Come on Fonseka, Chandrika. Ranil. Tiran etc remove this low life from Sri Lanka by calling for their arrest by the UN.

    • 0
      0

      Yes, indeed, but all these politicians you name are alike – greedy for power and/or money.. my bets are rather on a peoples’ uprising – Arab Spring Style and a new younger more competent leadership.
      For this it is necessary that all of us in whatever way help voter education so that decent politicians are elected.

      Fredrica is quite right the media is into self-censorship big time, like most of the NGOs, particularly the women’s NGOs which are money spinning rackets.. The women’s NGOs could have taken positions on the recent crime wave, rapes, sex tourism and militarization that affect women’s livelihoods in the northeast.. But the they are all silent and should not be given any more funds since they are not helping EDUCATE and empower people on their rights and situation..

      • 0
        0

        Dinuk is quite right.
        Women journalists like Fredrica and Sonali and Kishali have been very brave and speak out constantly at great risk, but the women’s NGOs in Colombo which have captured lots of funding from international donors are a keeping their mouths shut instead of coming to the streets and protesting the regiem’s violence against women and the current anti-people and anti-poor development trajectory.
        Women’s NGO in Lanka captured and run by elites are a disgrace! No women journalists or NGO workers have been physically attacked by the Gota the great Goon tho’ Champika at the Daily Mirror was treatened, and yet women NGOs in Colombo which are paid lots of $$$ by donors should be speaking out rather than self-censoring themselves and engaging in feminist turf wars! What a pathetic situation!

    • 0
      0

      Media Rights groups throughout the world should start a campaign calling for the resignation of the Sri Lanka Defense Secretary since he is the killer and a danger to society and himself it seems at this time. Like Macbeth he is increasingly paranoid and hence militarizing the country including the education and higher education sectors where teachers are now given military titles and university students military training even though war ended more than 3 years ago and it is politicians, military who are mainly involved in law breaking, murders, illegal excavations, land grabbing etc.

  • 0
    0

    If the concern of the World Body has been genuine, even Lasantha Wickrematunge will be living today. Warnings should not be confined to words alone, but severe action should be meted to Corrupt, Murderous as these. It is better late than never. Therefore I hope this type of opinion gathers momentum, to make the world safe, for decent to criticise the wrongs done.

  • 0
    0

    Needless to say DEMOCRACY is Sri Lanka died many decades ago but the masses are yet to realise this…
    I do sympathise with the Daily News and other pro-GOSL journalists but what is the point of doing a job that requires truth & freedom, within lies & constrain?

  • 0
    0

    Hello CPJ

    Many thanks for your concern for Jansz, but nothing will change in Sri Lanka. These brothers have become, too rich, too powerful, too popular after winning the war and have become too thick skinned. They are too corrupt to win any ‘election’ in this instituitionally corrupt country. Many more SL pilots will bring shit from abroad to feed Janz et al as demanded by this psychopath defense secretary.

  • 0
    0

    This crude vulgar uneducated trash from an inconspicous Village from the south should be brought to heel soon before more damage is done to a government that is politically and financially bancrupt.This Gotabaya idiot has the temerity to insult and show his vile filthy language to an editor of a newspaper we all have the privilege to read without being censored so far thanks to a woman who show more guts than the weak useless opposition . Mr. President We ask you who gave this brother of yours an unelected public servant to weild so much power . This idiot should be brought before a court of Law and the Public service commission and sacked. We hope the U.S. authorities will arrest this fellow as a U.S.Citizen and send him to the International court as a war Criminal that he surely is for the killing of over forty thousand innocents that he was partly responsible for.Wait till the youth and the discriminated of this land of ours rise and throw these monsters out.

  • 0
    0

    You see the whole picture now. MR bravely took on the IC and with the help of the willing nations, backed by the favourable world anti-LTTE environment created by the likes of Kadirgamar and Bogollama and 9/11, appointed Fonseka and ordered him to finish the LTTE. All factors favoured him and he was successful in eliminating the LTTE. Next, I think he genuinely started a nation building process with Mahinda Chintana. But alas, the band wagon around him hijacked it and he soon became entanlged in a big mess created by them. Since they were family and relatives, plus close friends he defended them at the cost of law and justice. Corruption, terror, buying out, kidnapping and hidden deals flourished. The media was terrorized and some imposed a self-imposed censureship to protect themsleves. Leading government ministers and MPs were implicated in murder with no retribution. Justice is lost and bought out. The citiznes are scared to talk resembling the Premadasa Period. The oppostion is spineless and similarly corrupt. This is visible from the UNP governing period pre-MR. Their voice is untrustworthy and the masses disregard them. In this environment MR blossom.
    Where will this lead ? Until MR rided the War win wave of popularity he will be alright. But these burdens will not be tolerated for ever. Sooner or later, there will be a trustworthy opposition leader popping up hi head. It may be from any side of the political arena. The people will be with them and the current government will have to answer a lot.

  • 0
    0

    In Sri Lanka there is a saying “Rata paharayanta gihilla” (The country has gone to stray dogs). This is a true situation of the saying. While GR holds a US citizenship, other Rajapaksha brothers hold the US Green card! They cannot have a true love for the country while having one foot on foreign soil. They need to pump as much money as possible abroad while they are in power. When it is time to go they will emigrate with the loot letting the so called ‘middle class’ citizens to pay back the ‘development loans’ for the next 30 years! Perhaps they feel the heat now and want to make the last bit of the loot by trying to shut the free media so that the ordinary citizens will never know what happened until after the fact. The best way to stay in power in order to steal the nation’s wealth is by nothing but thuggery and shut the free media. It seems that GR has not learned the good side of the US culture let alone learning the tact and patience practiced by the diplomats of the developed countries. Also, the comment on the US funding anti-government propaganda could boomerang on him if the US embassy decides to question him being a US citizen.

  • 0
    0

    Fedrica Janz, You are a God damn liar.You put Gen. Fonseka in jail.

    We do not think of you as a real journalist,please leave them alone. Do not spoil there campaign.
    People just hate you.

    • 0
      0

      Apparently you are one of the few inbred half wits who seem to think so.

  • 0
    0

    GOTHABAYA SHOULD BE GIVEN THE MOVIE ANGER MANAGEMENT.WHEN HE COMES OVERSEAS HE IS QUIET AND VERY NICE.HE MUST BE SAYING TO HIMSELF TOTO WE ARE NOT IN KANSAS ANYMORE.

  • 0
    0

    The Rajapaksa brothers are very well known to use abusive and filthy language when they confront people who they feel are agaisnt them. Mahinda Rajapaksa phoned Joseph Pararajasingham, the late TNA MP for Trincomalee, and scolded him in raw filth and threatened to kill him before he was actually killed by Karuna’s footsoldiers. So, this nasty verbal confrontation between Gota and Ms Jansz was predictable.

  • 0
    0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy
    http://colombotelegraph.com/comments-policy/

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 7 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.