M. A. Sumanthiran, Member of Parliament (TNA) speaks in Parliament, highlighting the need for the government to take honest steps to protect journalists and ensure media freedom.
Sumanthiran says that the manner in which the government fails to take steps to investigate and arrest those causing violent physical attacks on media institutions, clearly points to the conclusion that it is carried out by agents of the government. He cites as an example, the way in which the “Uthayan” newspaper has been attacked. Uthayan is the only regional Tamil newspaper in Jaffna. He accuses the government of sending ‘military goons’ to attack the Uthayan newspaper.
The fact that such physical attacks are accompanied or followed up by vilification/slander campaigns by state controlled media such as the Daily News is even more unacceptable, adds Sumanthiran. He blasts certain statements made by Major General Hathurusinghe against ‘Uthayan” as most inappropriate, and draws to the attention of the House that this is an individual who has been named by the Leader of the Opposition (not once but several times) for running private militias in Jaffna.
Sumanthiran strongly condemns what he describes as ‘hate speech by the government .. backed up by actual physical attacks’ and says the government MPs have no shame, and all they can do is shout and make a noise. He throws a challenge to the Media Minister to properly reply to his charge that the government is acting improperly in relation to media freedom and abusing state media day after day.
He urges the government to take genuine steps to vindicate acts of violence against media and makes the point that this failure has resulted in Sri Lanka being noted internationally as a place in which safety of journalists are in danger.
The Colombo Telegraph which is run from outside Sri Lanka is able to publish the full speech, which has not been published to date by the media physically based in Sri Lanka.
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