17 September, 2019

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WikiLeaks: Almost all media reps criticized US policy

By Colombo Telegraph –

“In addition, nearly all of them criticized some aspect of U.S. policy. It would be incorrect to assume that a free local press would spontaneously agree with Western criticism of GSL actions.” the US Embassy wrote to Washington.

GSL intimidated journalists by threatening, beating, and sometimes killing them but, they accepted that certain restrictions on the press were necessary for the government to win the war against the LTTE

A leaked US unclassified, but “SENSITIVE” diplomatic cable, recounts details of meetings the US Senate Foreign Relations staff members has had with the senior government officials, international organizations, political leaders, civil-society activists, and journalists between November 2-8, 2009. The Colombo Telegraph found the cable from WikiLeaks database. The cable was written on December 1, 2009 by the US Ambassador to Colombo Patricia A. Butenis.

Under the subheading of “MEDIA: FREE PRESS IN SRI LANKA?” the US Ambassador wrote “Media discussion centered on the question: ‘Is there a free press in Sri Lanka?’ Although most of the journalists were able to function as independent media, the consensus was that the press was not truly free. Media reps noted that the GSL government did not exercise its control of the press through direct censorship or a dominant state-run propaganda machine; instead, it intimidated journalists by threatening, beating, and sometimes killing them. Since these actions depended on the topic and the whim of powerful figures, reporters and editors could not predict future actions against them.”

“To avoid violence, many journalists censored themselves and were unwilling to be quoted. As example, the group pointed to a recent Ministry of Defense press release that discouraged reporting of the political ambitions of active duty military, forcing nearly all media outlets to drop coverage of military members, including CHOD General Fonseka, who is a likely presidential candidate. Some of the media representatives insisted the situation was ‘not that bad’ and most accepted that certain restrictions on the press were necessary for the government to win the war against the LTTE. In addition, nearly all of them criticized some aspects of U.S. policy. It would be incorrect to assume that a free local press would spontaneously agree with Western criticism of GSL actions.” Ambassador Butenis further wrote.

The Colombo Telegraph publishes the relevant part of the leaked cable below.

Related news –  US Senate Foreign Relations staff meetings

WikiLeaks: US the worst violators of human rights – Malinda says

VZCZCXRO5326
PP RUEHBI
DE RUEHLM #1054/01 3270240
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 230240Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0805
INFO RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA 2075
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 9103
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 7345
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 5246
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 3500
RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO 5184
RUEHSM/AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM 0719
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 4299
RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI 9666
RUEHBI/AMCONSUL MUMBAI 6960
RUEHON/AMCONSUL TORONTO 0040
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 3842
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 06 COLOMBO 001054

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/INSB

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM CE
SUBJECT: SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE (SFRC) FACT FINDING
MISSION TO SRI LANKA

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: On November 2-8, Senate Foreign Relations staff
members Nilmini Rubin and Fatema Sumar visited Sri Lanka and held
meetings with senior government officials, international
organizations, political leaders, civil-society activists, and
journalists to discuss post war reconciliation, resettlement of
internally displaced persons (IDPs), the humanitarian situation, and
media freedom.  They also visited the South, East and IDP camp at
Manik Farm.  The StaffDel observed that the post-war situation in
Sri Lanka was complex, particularly in light of possible elections;
Sri Lankans no longer sensed a strong partnership with the U.S.; the
U.S. "tool box" in dealing with the government of Sri Lanka (GSL)
was self-limited; a sense of palpable fear still hung over the media
and civil society; and while the GSL was making progress and doing
some good things, SL had a long way to go on reconciliation and
resettlement.  Recognizing SL's geo-strategic importance to the U.S.
and the current and long-term bilateral relationship, many SL
interlocutors gave their recommendations on strengthening the
relationship and noted a need for more U.S. assistance for
resettlement and demining. END SUMMARY.
MEDIA:  FREE PRESS IN SRI LANKA?
--------------------------------

7. (SBU) Media discussion centered on the question:  "Is there a
free press in Sri Lanka?"  Although most of the journalists were
able to function as independent media, the consensus was that the
press was not truly free.  Media reps noted that the GSL government
did not exercise its control of the press through direct censorship
or a dominant state-run propaganda machine; instead, it intimidated
journalists by threatening, beating, and sometimes killing them.
Since these actions depended on the topic and the whim of powerful
figures, reporters and editors could not predict future actions
against them.  To avoid violence, many journalists censored
themselves and were unwilling to be quoted. As an example, the group
pointed to a recent Ministry of Defense press release that
discouraged reporting of the political ambitions of active duty
military, forcing nearly all media outlets to drop coverage of
military members, including CHOD General Fonseka, who is a likely
presidential candidate.  Some of the media representatives insisted
the situation was "not that bad" and most accepted that certain
restrictions on the press were necessary for the government to win
the war against the LTTE.  In addition, nearly all of them
criticized some aspect of U.S. policy.  It would be incorrect to
assume that a free local press would spontaneously agree with
Western criticism of GSL actions.
BUTENIS
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Latest comments

  • 0
    0

    oh, dear dear, what does this mean? —-It would be incorrect to assume that a free local press would spontaneously agree with Western criticism of GSL actions.—?????? so they will through some money and buy journalists? any other meaning?

    • 0
      0

      Yes, Kalu Albert, they must pay journalist and their reps more that what Rajapaksa brothers pay!! :) :) :) :) :)

  • 0
    0

    the truth is that some would value a cent from butenis more than a million from rajapaksa or any other sri lankan. the lady doesn’t point out WHAT aspects of US policy were objected to.

  • 0
    0

    Butenis was rubbish, is rubbish and will always be rubbish. Why is Syria accused of fighting armed insurgents when in the US unarmed protesters are being jailed for their fundamental rights. The Bill of Rights in US is a joke not just a joke but a dirty rotten decomposing joke.

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