10 years since the attack on the Depanama Studio Complex

10 years since the attack on the Depanama Studio Complex

Written by Staff Writer

06 Jan, 2019 | 9:00 pm

Colombo (News1st): “This is a step towards the suppression of media in this country. Now they are trying to get rid of Sirasa, it cannot be done. They were unable to take out this light. everyone in this country is dedicated to protecting this light.”

Exactly 10 years ago on a day like today, this is what Ranil Wickremesinghe stated to the media following the attack on Depanama Studio Complex of the MTV / MBC Media Network.

While media freedom is today a favourite topic amongst politicians, today marks 10 years since this network, paid the ultimate price for standing by the peoples right to know. This attack on the MTV/MBC studio complex in Depanama was an attack on Srilanka’s media landscape.

Ten years ago, an attack was carried out on the people’s right to information. The attack on the Depanama Studio Complex of the MTV / MBC Media Network on that day did not only cause damage to property. The series of events that transpired afterwards have posed a greater threat to the people’s right to information.

At about 2:10 a.m. on Jan. 6, 2009 a group of thugs armed with firearms and explosives broke into the MTV/MBC studio complex in Depanama, while our unarmed colleagues were on their night shift. The armed gang entered the security building and after taking the guards hostage, proceeded to enter the studio complex and destroy the equipment there.

The Master Control Room which co-ordinates all telecasts was severely damaged in the attack which saw the use of claymore explosives. The Master Control Room which boasted an automated computer system was one of the most advanced of its kind in South Asia. Following the attack, the Government Analysts Department determined that there had been an attempt to set off an 8-kilogram claymore bomb inside the Master Control Room.

However, perhaps due to an unseen force of nature, only half the claymore had exploded.

Whilst most of the equipment was reduced to ashes, the station was able to be back on air within a few hours due to the determination and ingenuity of the engineers, technicians, and staff.

There is no doubt that despite the many attempts made to intimidate this network, we were able to stand steadfast and fearless because of the support of the people.

48 hours after the attack on our studio complex in Depanama, the editor of the Sunday Leader and our dear friend, Lasantha Wickremethunga was murdered in broad daylight.

It’s been 10 years since the attack on the MTV/MBC station and Lasantha’s murder. 10 years of waiting for answers. 10 years of waiting for justice. While those who were behind these crimes may think they can get away, they must be reminded that one can never hide the truth and justice. It is only a matter – of time.

We must rise against this act of terror. This is not the first time this has happened and this will most certainly not be the last. We must face this situation with strength.

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