The state-owned Independent Television Network has recently launched a series of attacks on UNP National List MP and Kotte Organiser Dr. Harsha De Silva, for resting his arm over the shoulder of a Buddhist monk during last Wednesday’s Enough is Enough protest in Colombo.
As obvious in the video sequence, De Silva and other MPs were tightly crammed on a flatbed truck, where UNP leaders were addressing the media. In the chaotic and congested situation, De Silva’s arm rests on the shoulder of a Buddhist monk who later turns to give the UNP MP a TV mic to pass on to another speaker, the stills of which have been skillfully manipulated to make the images look indecent.
ITN has repeatedly called on De Silva to apologise to the country’s Buddhists whose sensibilities have been hurt by the disrespect shown to the monk on camera. The campaign has resulted in a convoluted social media and web campaign also vilifying De Silva and casting disparaging comments on his behaviour. Similar images appeared online after UPFA Hambantota District MP Namal Rajapaksa was captured arm in arm with JHU Leader Ellawela Medhananda. However, ITN never carried out such a campaign against Namal Rajpaksa despite the web campaign.
On Saturday, De Silva called ITN and explained the sequence of events. “It was never intended. No disrespect to my religion was meant and it was a genuine human mistake. I called ITN and told them what happened and more importantly provided an apology to any and all Buddhists that I may have offended by my inadvertent act, with the expectation they would carry the same in their evening news. But instead of carrying my apology they continued to attack me saying I should apologize. Such is media ethics of this country. Please find below my voice cut to ITN taped by them at my residence at 2.00 pm on Saturday 17 August 2013,” De Silva said on his official Facebook page.