For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya
(Lanka-e-News 05.Dec.2009 9.00PM) Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapakse’s announcement to the media that he was aware of who was behind the murder of Lasantha wickremetunge and the attacks on the media in the recent past, and that he kept silent because he had to save the Army Commanders, has come under heavy fire from the legal circles who point out this suppression is tantamount to a crime under the penal code for concealing information of a crime and is tantamount to aiding and abetting it.
The Defense Secretary made these enunciations when he gave an interview to a National weekend newspaper last week.
Hereunder are the answers given to questions posed to him :
When talking of media freedom ,we all know what has happened .How can he speak about media freedom ?Take for example the Sunday Leader ,. This paper was criticizing President not yesterday or today.
This is what happened to all media personnel. Look at Upali Tennekoon’s case .He was a journalist who was close to the President and worked with him. Later, we came to know how this happened.
Why did you keep quiet despite knowing all these facts. Why are you talking of them now ?
We did not just keep quiet knowing these facts.We would not have revealed this now. But, because he is speaking about media freedom , we are compelled to talk about it.
I accepted most of the criticisms which were levelled by the media. I always kept silent. My need was to save the Army Commanders. Because I kept silent on Lasantha’s and other cases , accusations were hurled against me.
But , it is well to note at this juncture , it was Gotabaya himself who told , immediately after the killing of Sunday Leader Lasantha Wickremetunge and the attack launched on Sirasa, that the Sunday Leader publication and Sirasa are pro LTTE supporters, and therefore The Sirasa Owner should be taken into custody . Is he gifted with a double tongue ?
Meanwhile Gen. Fonseka had stated to a weekend newspaper that if Gotabaya had uttered that he knew about these facts and did not disclose , he has committed a serious offence. Gotabaya had told the media that he was aware that the Army commander was involved , but he did not reveal the information. In that case , the Defense secretary keeping silent is a monumental crime. He should resign forthwith on that account, Gen. Fonseka pointed out.
From these accusations and counter accusations one truth stands out clearly . The attacks and murders committed on the media have been at the behest of those in the top echelons of the Govt. Who were they ? Don’t the accusing finger point at Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapakse as Sarath Fonseka alleges.?
We would like to know what is obstructing the Govt. from conducting investigations duly after being aware of all these glaring truths.
It is significant to note that after President Rajapakse was installed in power , from 2006 to 2008 alone, 16 media personnel were brutally murdered, 39 were cruelly assaulted and intimidated, media reports say .