A protest over the beating of journalist Keith Noyahr
Terrorism is a blank check for unscrupulous leaders, one that the Rajapakse brothers have taken to the bank. Power, money, cars, the life of a rap star. So drunk on power are they that they forget who writes the check (the people of Sri Lanka) and that we can practice our Constitutional write to expression (the free press). Newspapers covering a war, you don’t say. However, according to the Rajapakses we have no right to publish anything on military issues and they’re not scared to say it. And journalists are scared, because they are getting threatened, beaten and killed. To quote Gotabaya “It will happen from where it happens.” It’s impossible to delve into hyperbole as a blogger here because the real quotes are so nuts. The Rajapakse family basically wants the public to know nothing about our civil war except propaganda. And they want it to be forbidden to even oppose the war. I don’t even know where to start, so I’ll just like them speak for themselves.
Defence Secretary: I have summoned you to inquire about a serious mistake you have committed. How can you stay at Lake House and criticize the Government? Tell me one thing you have done for this country compared to Lt Gen. Fonseka. He is loved by the soldiers. They can cause harm.
Journalists: Just because a war is being waged, if some wrongs are being committed by the military under that guise, it has to be exposed. There is no need to hide behind the guise of war.
Defence Secretary: Donâ€™t you understand what I am trying to say? If you donâ€™t agree and continue with what you are doing, what has to happen to you will happen. There is no necessity to have defense columns to discuss military matters. Laws will be introduced to restrict reporting on the conduct of military or on Commanders of the Armed Forces. The military will campaign for such laws. We can see whether the voice of the military is stronger than the campaign of the journalists.
Journalists: You are making a serious threat on our lives.
Defence Secretary: No, No. I am not doing it. I am definitely not threatening your lives. I am not. It will happen from where it happens. Our services are appreciated by 99 per cent of the people. They love the Army Commander (Lt. Gen. Fonseka) and the Army. Those who love us do what is required. We cannot help that.
As a response, aahahahgghhhhh WTF? Are they serious? We can’t have defense columns about, er, our own defense? And ‘those who love us do what is required’? As in, beat and kill journalists? This is required?
The Opinions Of State Employees Belong To The State
This one is a doozy because a huge percentage of Sri Lankans are state employees. Now they’re apparently not allowed to oppose the war or protest in any way. It’s presumably better for them not to think about the war at all, or perhaps to not think at all.
Hopefully they have a lot of Gon Depaya reruns, or not.
Question: Don’t the Lake House workers enjoy fundamental rights?
Hulugalle: Mr. Balasooriya has publicly stated that the war is a false one and he, as a state worker, has no right to make such a statement.
Question: Does he have no right to express his views? He did say that as a state employee but as a person speaking for the rights of journalists?
Hulugalle: He is a state employee. They cannot go against the policies of the Government. He cannot state that the war is false.
Question: Do media persons have no right to say that war is a false one?
Hulugalle: You can because you work in private media. But a worker of a state media cannot state so.
Question: Lake House is not a government institution. Its shares belong to the Public Trustee. In one fundamental rights case, the Supreme Court held that Lake House was not a state institution.
Minister Rambukwella: Lake House is a state company. The workers of a state institution cannot express ideas against the state policies and they cannot engage in politics.
Question: Both Sanath Balasooriya and Poddala Jayantha publicly campaigned for Mahinda Rajapaksa at the Presidential election. Was the law not valid then?
Minister Rambukwella: It shows that the two journalists may have been summoned to be thanked. (He laughs and goes on) It shows that the gratitude for the duo has not been forgotten even after two years. (ibid)
Because we didn’t kill them muahahahaa. So, if I’m correct, accepting employment in a state institution means giving up your Constitutional right to free expression. Did not know that.
Terrorists Read Newspapers. We Heard They Have A Google Bomb
One of the dumber, wait, one of the average statements out of this government is that we can’t read or write defense columns because the LTTE reads them. And plans their attacks based on, the Sunday Times. I don’t know. I’m not sure how much military intelligence MR has access to, but the LTTE has their own intelligence networks involving paid sources in the military. Yes, they have paid sources in the military, pretty every one who’s served in the military knows this, but apparently if we just don’t talk about it the problem will disappear. If it just weren’t for that pesky Sunday newspaper the LTTE wouldn’t know anything…
Mr. Rajapaksa said that a plethora of defense columns and military-related commentaries appearing in the local media were carefully scrutinised by the LTTE. He said the government was aware that information and references to intended military movements, defense capabilities, defensive measures adopted by the government, weapons purchases and other data were extrapolated by LTTE analysts and used to form a composite picture of the militaryâ€™s strengths and weaknesses and to anticipate action. (Sunday Times)
And, again, Mahinda knows so much about the LTTE’s intelligence processes how? He seriously thinks that the LTTE is sitting around clipping out columns in the newspapers and formulating strategy? Are you fucking kidding me? Are you in charge here?
But I digress. The only point here is that this is getting fucking silly. Last October Mahinda tried to pass a law basically banning media coverage of the war. They blocked any Sri Lankan from accessing the TamilNet website.
â€œNo editor or publisher of a newspaper or any other publication or any person … shall print, publish, distribute or transmit … any material containing any matter which pertains to any proposed operations or military activity to be carried out by the armed forces or the Police force.â€
That Extraordinary Gazette was repealed the next day because it cause such an uproar. That being, because banning media from covering a war is ridiculous. I hadn’t given it that much thought, but now I’ve read some more and OH MY GOD. The military is cracking down on the press because it seems that it can’t crack down on the LTTE. They can’t stop bad facts, but they want to stop the bad news. Oh my God, I’m afraid of what we’ll find out, and I’m also scared for the innocent people who’ll get killed for even trying to see. The Sunday Leader has a chilling bit about the government propaganda fudging body counts (lazily) and the real cost in terms of human bodies:
On Wednesday morning, at 7:34 am, the Defence Ministry website published a story on its website headlined “LTTE offensive attempt thrashed: 52 LTTE killed, many injured â€“ Jaffna.” The story spoke of a completed battle, in which the army had advanced 500 metres into LTTE lines. It said 38 soldiers had died and 84 had been injured. Some of the injured, the article said, had been airlifted to Colombo.
The editorial offices of The Sunday Leader are in close proximity to the Ratmalana Air Force Base, where flights to and from the Jaffna peninsula operate. Throughout Wednesday, ambulances screeched down the roads to Colombo from the Ratmalana airbase. One of our staffers on his way home to Colombo from Ratmalana on Wednesday afternoon, counted no less than 20 ambulances screeching past his vehicle.
Odd, he thought to himself, if the northern battles â€˜are over.â€™ At 4:30 pm Wednesday, TamilNet published a story. The LTTE had told TamilNet that over 150 soldiers had been killed by the Tigers, who had over-run the armyâ€™s northern defence lines. LTTE Military Spokesman Marshall Ilanthirayan issued a press statement at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, with similar facts and figures.
Over Wednesday night, TamilNet added photographs to their story along with more details. The photographs showed row upon row of dead bodies, which they claimed were army soldiers killed. One picture showed 18 soldiers sprawled on a floor. Other photographs were shown along trenches in what looked like forward defence lines, with more bodies of soldiers…
Once the photographs were released by TamilNet early Thursday morning however, the Defence Ministry report of Wednesday morning claiming 52 dead Tigers, had… disappeared! It had vanished. Luckily a copy of it was saved by this newspaper for statistical purposes before it was deleted. The story was replaced by one saying “Over 150 killed: LTTE beaten off as troops capture defence positions â€” Jaffna.”
What is it with the LTTE and Defence Ministry and this figure of 150? Past the headline however, the Defence Ministry report was absolute gibberish. It began by saying that over 100 LTTE cadres were killed (not 150 as in the headline). The second paragraph however says that the “latest information” indicates that “81 terrorists were killed.”
Oh my God. I hadn’t thought of it before, but I think the government may really have a lot to hide. What they’re doing is not protecting the troops. The troops are dying and we support them to the end. Gotabaya Rajapakse is protecting himself, and they’re beating and killing innocent writers to cover it up. How much are they covering up? What’s happening to our troops, and don’t we have a right to know? Those are our boys and they don’t belong to the Rajapakse family. We have a right to know.