Photo from Daily Mirror
January isn’t even over and two editors have been assaulted (one killed) and a TV station burned. In the same time the Defense Secretary has gone on TV and called a few journalists terrorists by name, forcing them to go into hiding. These actions and words are, of course, unrelated. Last year the Rivira Group’s Keith Noyahr (who wrote for the nation) was also assaulted in the streets. I think he’s gone into hiding. Whatever words the national leadership is saying about journalists are being heard, and acted upon. When Gotabaya says they’re threats to national security and traitors people listen, and journalists get assaulted and killed in the streets.
To quote Gotabaya from his scolding of Lake House employees for criticizing the government.
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.
Note that I’m not saying that Gotabaya directly ordered this or any of the assaults. What I take real objection to his him saying ‘we cannot help that’. Well, you can. In fact, it’s your job as Secretary of the Ministry of Defence, Public Security and Law and Order. Public Security and Law and Order are breaking down. People are being assaulted and killed in the streets and they’re getting away with it. And Gotabaya says ‘we cannot help this’.
Instead he encourages this lawlessness and barbarity, saying those who ‘love’ the Rajapakses are doing ‘what is required’. Except that it’s not required. It doesn’t help us win any war, it just helps us lose our nation to criminality, violence and ignorance.
As stated in Parliament, nine journalists have been killed and 27 assaulted since 2006. We cannot help this?