Gota lays down his law to journos

Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa who is officially tasked to ensure the security of all Sri Lankans, had indirectly levelled death threats on two senior journalists last Monday.

The people of this country had great respect for Secretary Rajapaksa for his effort to crackdown on the LTTE and were aghast when he faced an LTTE suicide attack at the Pithala junction Colombo sometime ago. But people will not by any stretch endorse his attempt to silence the fourth estate of this country in a bid to prevent people learning about corruption, misuse and abuse of power by this Government.

Secretary Rajapaksa summoned two senior journalists Sanath Balasuriya and Poddala Jayantha of the Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd (Lake House) along with their Chairman Bandula Padmakumara. Rajapaksa, then threatened them saying “you will have to face severe consequences if you criticise military leaders”. The main reason the Secretary found fault with Jayantha and Balasuriya was that the duo organised a protest rally with the help of other media organisations the previous week opposite Temple Trees urging the Government to find the culprits who abducted and beat-up the Nation Newspaper Associate Editor Keith Noyahr.

Reflected glory

The two journalists Balasuriya and Jayantha who are also the President and Secretary of the Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association (SLWJA) respectively, had then asked Rajapaksa whether he is threatening them with death. The defence secretary has responded “those who love military leaders would take serious action against journalists. Such actions are not wrong, and the Government cannot stop such actions”.

This proves that Secretary Gotabhaya who is technically a public servant, is inebriated with the reflected glory of his brother Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Presidency.

But when President Mahinda Rajapaksa took oaths he promised to uphold the Constitution of Sri Lanka. Chapter three of the Constitution clearly mentions the fundamental rights of Sri Lankans.

Article 14. (1) of the Constitution assures every citizen of this country-

(a) the freedom of speech and expression including publication;
(b) the freedom of peaceful assembly;
(c) the freedom of association;
(d) the freedom to form and join a trade union;
(e) the freedom, either by himself or in association with others, and either in public or in
private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice or teaching;

Can the Defence Secretary who is a mere public officer deprive the right to freedom of speech, expression and publication that accrues to any citizen of this country? Who is he to do so? What mandate have the people given him to do so? Is he trying to withhold this right guaranteed by the Constitution just because he is the President’s younger brother? This is a clear indication that Gotabhaya Rajapaksa is trying to drive Sri Lanka into a state of anarchy perhaps as his brother’s Government is unpopular after just three years in power.

Does Rajapaksa know the identities of gang members who abducted the Nation newspaper Associate Editor Keith Noyahr? Seems so, as the Secretary had said that “those who love military leaders will attack if anyone criticises them.”

The Secretary has also said that he still considers Maubima newspaper journalist Parameshwari an LTTE activist but added that the courts had to release her as the SLWJA mounted pressure on the judiciary.

Secretary Rajapaksa should understand that the Sri Lankan judiciary will not bail out any suspect on the basis of newspaper agitation or pressure.

No evidence

If the judiciary succumbed to such pressure, most of the picketing and protest rallies will take place not in front of the Fort Railway station, but in Hulftsdorp. On the other hand.

Parameshwari was discharged as the Terrorists Investigative Unit of the Police could not find a single piece of evidence against her.

Secretary Rajapaksa and his brother’s Government’s attitude on human rights was the reason for the international community’s ejection of Sri Lanka from the United Nation Human Rights Council.
The international Community warned on many occasions of the deteriorating condition of human rights in Sri Lanka. But that was like singing to deaf elephants. Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf sacked 60 or so judges from their positions. Despite this and many other human rights violations by Musharaff, Pakistan got elected to the UNHRC due to certain purposeful strides towards democracy made subsequently in that country. It proves that Sri Lanka’s human rights situation is the worst in Asia. The world does not believe any more in the bluff of the Rajapaksas.

Analysts’ fear that the international community may consider imposing economic sanctions against Sri Lanka. Of course when there are public officers such as Gotabhaya Rajapaksa who are in a bid to impose de facto military rule in the entire country, Sri Lanka could face such an eventuality.

The main problem with the Rajapaksa government is that those who are running this country aren’t professional. They do not understand the law, or the basics of international treaties Sri Lanka has ratified on human rights. They think that anything can be accomplished with the people’s mandate. Such acts forced the international community to eject Sri Lanka from the UNHRC. Who is responsible for this state of affairs that causes the world to condemn Sri Lanka at every turn? []


  1. sn rajah said,

    June 2, 2008 @ 9:02 am

    The people of this country had great respect for Secretary Rajapaksa for his effort to crackdown on the LTTE and were aghast when he faced an LTTE suicide attack at the Pithala junction Colombo sometime ago!!!!!!!

    Really? Do they?

  2. Devinda Fernando said,

    June 4, 2008 @ 1:33 pm

    Journalists these days no longer report the news. They have Political Agendas.

    The “Military Matters Column” injecting Personal Opinion into the mix. Now it has just become another Opinion Column by someone who does not like The Rajapakse Government’s prosecution of the war. I have no sympathy.

  3. Sarvan said,

    June 5, 2008 @ 11:50 am

    Gota and his government are losing the war against the LTTE. The only way to prevent the truth of soldier casualities and weapons lost to the LTTE would be to threaten journos.

    He is just doing that. He fails to know what the international mass media are capable of doing !!

  4. Devinda Fernando said,

    June 5, 2008 @ 3:12 pm

    *** Gota and his government are losing the war against the LTTE. ***

    No they are not Sarvan,

    You obviously have not been keeping up with the facts on the ground. East has been captured, Army is making steady progress into the North. Just a matter of time

  5. Saravanaraj said,

    June 6, 2008 @ 12:20 pm

    Oh Yes, East has been captured from enamy (as it is belongs to someone else) and handover to another !!!!

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