For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya
Friday, 07 May 2010 00:00
One may still remember how the PSD notoriety reached dizzy heights during the days of President Chandrika Kumaratunga and one has all the more reasons to wonder whether Sri Lanka is heading back to those dark days.
For a PSD officer to attack a senior journalist mercilessly in public after he was accompanied to an event venue by another set of PSD men, there must be something terribly wrong with the officer.
The Daily Mirror learns that the officer concerned had been† one with a violent past, somebody who should not be allowed to mingle with the civilians. Even twenty four hours after the brutal attack on the Daily Mirror senior journalist Sandun Jayasekara no action has been taken against the attacker by the PSD heads.
The delay in taking action against the law breaker and the attempts by certain PSD officers to cover up the crime certainly raise concern about the security of the media in Sri Lanka.
Attempts have been made to cook up stories that journalist Jayasekara had pulled the officer who was in uniform, from his collar. No one will believe that story since it is something that no journalist would attempt and being a journalist of 30 years experience it goes without saying that Sandun Jayasekara who had been covering Presidentís events for Daily Mirror was fully aware of his boundaries.
The fact that another group of PSD men who had recognized him and invited him to go to the venue with them itself is evidence that he had not had issues with the PSD before. Also it points to the fact that still there are quite a few PSD members who are helpful to media persons.
It should be noted that even during the worst days of the PSD, illegal activities were carried out by only by a handful of persons. The work of one or two PSD people is enough to terrorize a nation and create an anti-democratic society.Unless these violent elements are nipped in the bud thereís no assurance of a democratic and just society.
Ironically the attack on Sandun Jayasekara had taken place an hour or so before the swearing in of the new Minister of Media Keheliya Rambukwella.
How equipped Minister Rambukwella is to fight for the rights of media persons will depend a lot on how he is going to approach this litmus test – where an officer of Presidentís security division has assaulted a senior journalist of a national daily.