Archive for February 4th, 2008
IFJ Asia-Pacific Regional Meeting, Kuala Lumpur
Joint Statement to President and Government of Sri Lanka
We, the representatives of journalists’ unions and associations across the Asia-Pacific region, meeting in Kuala Lumpur, appeal to President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the Government of Sri Lanka to protect the safety of journalists in Sri Lanka and uphold the rights of the media to report freely.
As Asia-Pacific affiliates and partners of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), jointly fighting for freedom of expression and the safety of journalists in all countries and communities of our region, we are alarmed by the Sri Lankan authorities’ overt ridicule for the principles of free expression and the rights of journalists as Sri Lanka descends toward all-out war.
Recent actions by authorities indicate an irresponsible and dangerous disregard for the rights of journalists and media institutions to report freely and without threat of violence. Cases in point include recent public statements by Sri Lanka ’s Army Commander and Defence Secretary calling for media censorship, the judicial enforcement of criminal defamation and the prosecution of leading media institutions for “critical reportage”.
We condemn in the strongest terms the disrespect and outright physical aggression shown by members of the Government and senior public officials toward journalists, media institutions and the right to freedom of speech.
Professional media has a duty and a responsibility to critique the central issues in Sri Lanka’s war, to expose corruption and to unearth underlying interests of warring factions. However, journalists and media institutions in Sri Lanka are under extreme pressure to comply with the Government’s propaganda on conflict and peace if they want to avoid targeted hate speech and rabid public condemnation. Official censorship and self-censorship are fuelling a dangerous cycle of misinformation and conflict, and journalists are finding it increasingly difficult to act in the public interest.
We are extremely concerned for the safety of our colleagues in Sri Lanka . Journalists and their leaders are directly in the line of fire, whether they are reporting on events in conflict zones or bearing the brunt of the hostility of senior officials and others displeased with independent critical commentary.
We condemn the prevailing culture of impunity in Sri Lanka , which is exemplified by acts of physical and verbal abuse perpetrated by senior authorities targeting the media.
We advise the President and the Government that the failure to bring to account the perpetrators of physical and psychological violence against journalists and to rein in the anti-media activities of government members and other officials sends a message that the they have no respect for the rights and safety of journalists and for the range of all rights set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The anti-media sentiment expressed by officials at various levels underscores a widespread failure to understand that free expression and a strong, independent and critical media are hallmarks of a successful-and peaceful-democracy.
We demand that the President and the Government desist immediately from implicitly or explicitly inciting violence against journalists and media institutions, by way of death threats, intimidation, physical harm and the use of language that incites hate and drives conflict. The Government must put an end to the culture of impunity, including acting against criminal gangs that target journalists.
While we urge the President and the Government to lead the way, we demand that other groups in Sri Lanka , including paramilitary groups and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), also desist from committing or inciting violence against journalists.
We strongly support our colleagues in the Federation of Media Employee’s Trade Unions (FMETU), the Free Media Movement (FMM), the Sri Lanka Working Journalists’ Association (SLWJA), the Sri Lanka Muslim Media Forum (SLMMF) and the Sri Lanka Tamil Journalists’ Alliance (SLTJA) in their demands that the Government urgently implement the following measures.
* Halt all threats, harassment, abductions and attacks against journalists, media workers and media institutions perpetrated by all parties to the conflict, in particular on, but not limited to, the Tamil-language media.
* Refrain from all interference in editorial independence, including the use of economic or legal sanctions, such as restrictions on newsprint, the indiscriminate use of search and seizure powers by the tax authorities or the freezing of assets, to interfere in the publication of a newspaper.
* Cease using informal means, such as direct calls to newsrooms and editorial offices, to influence media coverage and editorial lines.
* Desist from the dangerous and irresponsible practice of publicly vilifying journalists and media workers in a manner likely to endanger their lives and those of their families and invite the authorities, political parties and community leaders to demonstrate a clear and unambiguous rejection of the targeting of media by incitement and language likely to excite hostility.
* Amend or revoke all Sri Lankan legislation, regulations and powers, particularly the emergency regulations of August 2005, the Prevention of Terrorism and Specified Terrorist Activities Regulations of December 2006, the Official Secrets Act, Press Council Laws and broadcasting laws that fail to meet international standards on press freedom and freedom of expression.
Signed by leaders of the following organisations, in Kuala Lumpur for the regional meeting of IFJ Asia-Pacific:
Aliansi Jurnalis Independen (AJI)
Afghan Independent Journalists Association (AIJA)
All India Newspaper Employees Federation (AINEF)
Association of Taiwan Journalists (ATJ)
Cambodian Association for Protection of Journalists (CAPJ)
Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union , New Zealand (EPMU)
Federation of Media Employee’s Trade Unions (FMETU)
Free Media Movement (FMM)
Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ)
Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA)
IFJ Asia Pacific
Indian Journalists Union (IJU)
National Union of Journalists, Malaysia (NUJM)
Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA)
Nepal Press Union (NPU)
National Union of Journalists ( India ) (NUJI)
National Union of Journalists, Nepal (NUJN)
National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP)
Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ)
Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association (SLWJA)
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries
February 4th, 2008
by Mano Ganesan
A brief response to Dayan Jayatilake’s ‘Fighting Absolute Enemy‘:
[Ambassador Dayan Jayatilleka]
Mr. Dayan Jayatilake lectures on fascism. He has taken great efforts to identify the enemy. And tirelessly describes this enemy as the enemy of Sinhalese, Tamils and all the peoples of Lanka.
The issue arises when he begins and ends his write restricted only to LTTE and Tamil fascism. It is that he ignores two more prime actors/acts in this whole issue. One, the Tamil people and the other is Sinhala Buddhist hegemony and state terrorism.
He fails to understand that it is the Tamil people and only the Tamil people who can by means convince the LTTE and change Tamil fascism into Tamil democracy. He fails to understand that Tamil people should be won over by the acceptance of their national rights in the first place.
He fails to understand this basic truth. But he cannot be blamed singularly as the sole thinker on these lines. Many others in the Sinhala establishment do fail at same length. This line up includes Indian policy makers and many players in the int’l community too.
[Mano Ganesan MP]
He begins the story from 1983-from the birth of LTTE-and selectively forgets the pre 1983 period from 1940s which fathered the Tamil extremism and terrorism.
In his hastiness he again forgets that Stalin’s Russia versus Nazi Germany war has absolutely no comparison in Lankan context. Sri Lankan UN Ambassador fails to open his eyes to the visible people’s forum opened up by the Tamils within and outside who still believe in living together in a United Lanka. He like his bosses in Colombo wants this forum to be suspended indefinitely until the completion of his ‘beginning of the end’ and/or ‘end of the end’ nonsense.
This forum, the last opportunity amidst the history of missed opportunities’ discusses subjects from confessions to reconciliations to federalism to confederation to everything.
He draws lines and rules. He provides radiuses like 13th amendment, Provincial councils, Quasi Federalism, No merger etc. He preaches on the great invention by Indian scholar Prof. Urmila Phadnis on Indian multi-polar ethnicity and Lankan is bi-polar ethnicity. Yes, indeed but so what? Who are these people to put conditions to a Nationality based on their ‘inventions’? These pundits virtually kill the urge and movement for an undivided Lanka.
And the other act, he rather conveniently ignores is the Sinhala Buddhist hegemony and state terrorism. I use the word ‘convenient’ with all it’s meaning. This ignorance suits his mission (in Geneva !). He expects the whole world to believe his version that the state prevailing in the south is not fascist, not racist, not terrorist and not totalitarian and not tyranny.
Under these ‘arranged’ circumstances he invites nationalists, liberalists, Patriots and even Proletariats, Marxists, Leninists and even Tamilists, Islamists to team up with his Sinhala Buddhist state in the war. To support his one eyed campaign he is bringing comparison and droppings between and from Stalin era to Putin’s Russia, War against Nazism, Cue from FBI, Punjab’s Gill, Mao, Lenin, US invaders and Afghan war lords.
One of the vice presidents of the HR council within UN, he shamelessly proposes war but war. Mind it, in Sri Lankan context it means extra judicial killings, assassinations, abductions, enforced disappearances, extortions, sexual abuses, torture, forced mass evictions, arbitrary mass arrests, child soldiers, indiscriminate bombardments, culture of impunity. And also the failed disgraced Human Rights institutions, Commissions and Committees, barefaced refusals to strengthen the UN Human Rights Commissioner’s office in Colombo and the establishment of International Independent Human Rights Mission.
Once I witnessed Dayan Jayatilake from a distance in a drama at Borella Kanatte. He has grown through the mill. From Varadaraja Perumal to Mahinda; Trincomalee to Geneva , I respect him for the very hard work. I vaguely remember meeting Dayan personally somewhere at park road near Shalika and having a brief discussion. He spoke about Lenin and Marx to me. It’s a pity, now he does not recognize the fact that Leninist-Marxist policy on National question begins with the principle of Self Determination. And those nationalisms of oppressive and of the oppressed are not same and equal. I cannot hold discussions based on these principles with Mahinda and Ranil or with Ven. Athuraliye Ratna Hamaduruwo. It is because they never identify themselves as Marxist-Leninists.
[Mano Ganesan MP, leader of the Western People's Front]
February 4th, 2008
by Mano Ganesan
I bet my head if Gotabaya Rajapakse proves any of his ‘LTTE link’ allegations against me. He has got his facts, if any mixed-up and he is in the state of confusion. It is because he is speaking out of vengeance. The Vengeance is over our Civil Monitoring Commission’s human rights campaign against abductions, extortions and extra-judicial killings and also reflection of the government’s anger that I did not follow the ’silence for perk’ paths of ministers Thondaman and Chandrasekaran
Gotabaya’s random accusations lack clarity and credibility. I totally deny all his sick references to me as falsehood, sinister and defamatory. Gotabaya is not a member of parliament. He never comes to the parliament and not heard or seen me in the house. I tell him to check up with his own ministers before pinning me of with LTTE label. I am confident many SLFP ministers will vouch for me.
The parliament of Sri Lanka knows that I am not an LTTEer. I don’t have the necessity or the right to speak or act for the LTTE. I do not have to shy away from the fact of my meeting with LTTE. I have met LTTE political department activists during the CFA period in open. Many other Tamil, Muslim, Sinhala politicians too have met LTTE for discussions at that time. Some of them are now in the Mahinda Rajapakse government as cabinet ministers and senior officials. LTTE is terrorizing the Lankan society. So is the Mahinda Rajapakse regime. But LTTE being the symbol of Tamil national struggle and violent responder to the decades old Sri Lankan state terrorist oppression are undeniable facts. I am not a lone rider but equiped with my party. My party is not subordinate to any block. I have my agreements and disagreements with LTTE as I have with many southern parties. So I may not need character certificates from anybody.
My prime issues with the government are the blunt abuses human rights and culture of impunity. I am at the forefront in taking the human rights issues to the international community and UN. Gotabaya should understand that I got the clue for this from his brother president HE Mahinda Rajapakse. What I am doing today was what Mahinda R did in 1989. I stand against both LTTE terrorism and state terrorism.
I stand for a United Lanka within which the numerically smaller nationalities and minorities have their rightful sovereign share. I stand for genuine devolution of political power. Is it terrorism to call upon the elected government to behave as the government of the day for all the peoples? Is it terrorism to identify unresolved ETHNIC ISSUE as the supreme root cause for the ruthless war and terrorism, human rights violations, impunity, political assassinations, media slaughter, international isolation, failing state syndrome, inflation, CoL and all?
Is it terrorism to struggle democratically for genuine political power division to avoid the division of the country? Is it terrorism to seek share and stake in the soverreignty and ruling right to the Tamil speaking peoples? Is it terrorism to demand the government to address the ethnic issue without any further delay? Is it terrorism to expose the ‘false dawn’ in the name of latest APRC report on 13th amendment?
Let Gotabaya, a state employee claim superior powers over the cabinet of ministers. That is for the cabinet to worry about. I do not care and declare no issue with that. But I am a member of parliament for Colombo district elected by the superior people of Sri Lanka in a democratic election. My presence in the parliament of Sri Lanka is protected by the Honorable Speaker who is the superior institutional custodian of the most supreme legislature in the country. I am also leader of a political party recognized by the institution of the commissioner of elections.
The honorable learned judges of the court of appeal have told the IGP ‘to protect member of parliament who is already elected before considering protecting candidates standing for election in the east’. If there is a disagreement, the AG can go to the Superior Court. I and millions of Lankans today believe that it is the Judiciary which is keeping this failing state from falling apart when the Executive is autocrat, Legislature is weak and Media is under killer intimidation. All above institutions derive authority from the constitution of Sri Lanka . I believe nobody has superiority over the constitution.
Gotabaya refuses to protect me on false imagination. On one hand he says I am linked to LTTE. And immediately he contradicts himself and says I am targeted by LTTE. What is this ‘LTTE link’ story? His own government has been accused of this ‘LTTE link’ by the right hand and left hand of the Mahinda Rajapakse presidential campaign. That is Mangala and Sripathi. It is accused that after this government assumed power large sum of state money was transferred to some suspected LTTE company.
Immediately before the presidential elections, Gota’s other brother Basil and minister Jeyaraj met me and requested me to arrange a link with LTTE and offered favors to me if Mahinda is elected. But I refused to do that because I have no such link with LTTE. What should be noted is that I did not go to Rajapakse house but they came to my place. Minister Jeyaraj has accepted this visit on record. But I am not telling that they made contact with LTTE or transferred money. I know there was an attempt. I do not speak wildly without credible information.
Gotabaya accuses late Maheswaran now. He says that he dealt with LTTE and earned their wrath. I don’t want to talk about a dead man. It is not an honorable thing to do. But the fact of Maheswaran running ships between Colombo and Jaffna is a well known fact. He himself has said that and had referred to Rajapakses as his good friends. It is in the hansard.
All the opportunities and contracts in this government are given only to henchmen. Nepotism and Favoritism are order of the state. Under these circumstances how come an opposition TAMIL MP permitted to run a business venture that is also very security wise strategically crucial? Who in the defense establishment authorized this? Who else are the partners in this venture?
Who else are the profiteers? What is the volume of the business in figures? Assuming If LTTE received commissions who are the other bigwigs received commissions and side kicks? What are the amounts of commissions? Why the innocent poor people of Jaffna are made to pay prices 300 to 500% higher than Colombo? Is it linked to the closure of A9? Is it a military decision or business decision?
What happened to those alleged findings of ‘aircraft parts’ in those ships? Why that Gotabaya, the defense secretary waited this ship business to go without any hindrances for over one year? Does he want the people to believe that he came to know this ‘LTTE deal’ only after the killing of Maheswaran?
The nation needs answers to these questions. These will also help to find who killed Maheswaran. The people of Sri Lanka and opposition legislatures are not so naive and fool to believe that Maheswaran did everything on his own. The logical conclusion is that poor Maheswaran has been used by high-ups in the government. Maheswaran may be an UNPer. But UNP did not run the ship business. It is very unfair to put all the blame on Maheswaran, a dead man now and call him a traitor.
Mano Ganesan is not Maheswaran. Maheswaran had his friends inside the government and may be in the LTTE. It is very unfair and cruel to put me in the same lot and set stage for my kill. I am not a member of the government. My party is aligned with opposition UNP. United National Party is the single biggest party in the country. I believe in the alliance leadership of Ranil Wickramasinghe. As at today he is the only national leader who is recognized by all sections of the Sri Lankan society. With him now me, Rauf and Mangala are standing together. There are more to come. This is democracy. I will not trade in my principles for the provision of security and perks. I am seeking security because I am a stake holder in the state of Sri Lanka although not part of the government. Gotabaya should understand the differences between the terms and conditions of the state and the government.
Gotabaya says they have to protect Douglas and Anandasankaree. Yes, it is correct. I endorse that point. Let them be given the maximum security. Anandasankaree is not a parliamentarian. There are many more non parliamentarians are given state security. Media has listed those names. No matter, let police give security to them. I have no issue on that. But government cannot reduce and refuse state security to opposition politicians who are also under threat. As parliamentarians we risk our lives and we have priority over others. Gotabaya cannot lecture that Ranil Wickramasinghe cannot seek state security while criticizing the government. Ranil W is the Leader of Opposition in the parliament of Sri Lanka. He is privileged to receive all state patronage under the constitution. Gotabaya should understand the sprit of parliamentary democracy. (ENDS)
This is an open response by Mano Ganesan to Defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse who stated in a recent media interview that the WPF leader was linked to the LTTE and therefore needed no state security.
February 4th, 2008