For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya
Setting fire to Lanka-e-News within two weeks of the President stating before media heads that he would take steps regarding web sites raises serious doubts and the President headed by the government should make a statement to the country says the President of the Media Employees Trade Union Dharmasiri Lankapeli.
He said this at the agitation held at Lipton Circus today (1st) noon against setting fire to the office of Lanka-e-News.
Speaking further Mr. Lankapeli said, Two weeks ago when he met heads of media institutions the President said he would pay his attention to web sites. We would like to ask the government including the President whether setting fire to Lanka-e-News is one such step. If not the government has the responsibility of holding an investigation and revealing who the perpetrators are.
The convener of Free Media Movement Sunil Jayasekera said, The procedure followed by the government after setting fire to Lanka-e-News is very suspicious. The police investigations carried out regarding the incident are a fraud. We challenge the government to reveal who the arrested suspect is, who manipulated him and whose secret hand was behind him.
The state media is making a vile attempt to justify the arson. Dinamina states that condoms were found in an establishment where even eclectic fans have been melted in the fire. This indicates who had been behind this attack.
The President of Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association (SLWJA) said, 27 journalists have been murdered within two years. Five media institutions were torched. Journalists were attacked, assaulted and abducted. However, no one has been arrested regarding any of these incidents. This indicates who is behind such acts.
A large network functions behind the attacks on the media. Certain journalists who enjoy perks and privileges from the government try to justify these attacks. We tell them what they are destroying is the freedom of their profession.
The convener of Journalists Against Suppression Chandana Sirimalwatta addressing the gathering said, If Lanka-e-News was torched, according to what the government states, to embarrass the government, why couldnt the government reveal those who carried out arson against media institutions earlier and those who were responsible for the deaths of journalists?
Why do we need a government if media freedom or democratic rights of the people or their freedom of expression and information cannot be protected? Why do we need a Minister of Media who cannot protect media freedom, media institutions and journalists? Hence we call upon the Media Minister to resign from his post.
The Information Secretary of the JVP Vijithe Herath said, The government has not been able to carry out any investigation regarding continuous attacks on the media. No one has been taken into custody regarding any such attacks. Why arent investigations carried out if the government is not behind those incidents? Hence, it is very clear that the group of thugs manipulated by the government is behind all these incidents