Written by Staff Writer
13 Jan, 2019 | 9:42 pm
COLOMBO (News 1st) – The United National Party (UNP) has denied any involvement in the protests carried out by a number of so-called social activist groups opposite several media institutions in Colombo last Thursday (January 10).
However, “The Island” Newspaper reported today (January 13) that in a special statement on Friday (January 11) that the UNP had announced that they are committed to promote and protect the freedom of media. The statement also says these media institutions are branding the participants of peaceful and civilized protests as ‘NGO members’ and ‘conspirators’ while lauding those who stage protests violating laws and promoting violence as patriots.
The statement says that the UNP strongly condemns the conduct of the other ‘Black Media’, which showed their autocracy by refusing to accept the letters of the protest groups. It further says it should be recalled how the UNP appeared for the freedom of media and the protection of the journalists when media institutions faced violence and were bombed and journalists were threatened and killed.
While the United National Party claims to be appearing for media freedom, this how its leadership spoke in Parliament on the 21st of last month. On that day, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe speaking in Parliament had this to say
“.. –I think MP Vijithamuni Soysa is very fortunate. Do you think he will be able to collect 100 million by suing all media institutions? What if 10 million is received from each media institution? There are three or four of them. This is what you call black media. I believe we have proposed today that a debate is held in January regarding the black media and we must name all of them from top to bottom..”
Though the UNP by issuing statements denies involvement in the demonstrations that took place opposite media institutions on Thursday (January 10) it is clear that the truth begs to differ.
This group who arrived at the doorsteps of media institutions to advise them on how the media should act, took to the streets when Ranil Wickremesinghe was ousted from his position demanding that democracy be re-established. On the 28th of November 2018, a group identifying themselves as the “Women of Sri Lanka” protested opposite the Presidential secretariat during heavy showers.
Another group identifying themselves as the “Shining Heart” also protested opposite the Presidential Secretariat wearing face masks. Several people who were seen in the group that demonstrated near media institutions were seen at the Sathyagraha campaign that was launched at the Viharamahadevi Park after Ranil Wickremesinghe was removed from his position. As soon as Ranil Wickremesinghe was re-appointed to his post, the Sathyagraha was called off.
The NGO Dollar Gang arrived at media institutions in a backdrop where various people had resorted to threaten the media using terms such as “Black Media.”
Where was this NGO Dollar Gang when the Bond Scam happened when money worth billions were robbed from the people? Were they in hiding when those perpetrators left the country? Where were the NGO Dollar Gangs when commercial loans with extremely high-interest rates were obtained to construct expressways, at a time when the country was in the middle of economic turbulence?
Where was the NGO Dollar Gang when due processes were not followed when granting contracts to companies such as Taisei (Central Expressway tender)? Where were they when the national carrier was amassing losses over losses due to the incompetence of its management and the authorities?
Commenting on the matter, Venerable Ampitiye Sumanaratha Thero of the Mangalarama Temple in Batticaloa noted that the country is not at all amazed by the humiliating actions of the Prime Minister. He continued to say that this matter is like the people who ate the money off the bond scam puking what they ate and choosing the doorsteps of media institutions for this purpose. Justifying his statement the Thero said that it was the media institutions that reported on the bond scam. The thero added that they will not allow anyone to attack the media and that they are there to protect the media institutions.
However, it should be reiterated that these allegations are not raised at the whole United National Party. A majority of the United National Party along with its deputy leader has condemned the actions of the NGO Dollar Gang on several occasions.
Meanwhile, the Island Newspapers Saturday edition in an article says that the United National Party has recommenced its attacks on the media and that since the restoration of the UNP government some weeks ago that these attacks have assumed a more sinister aspect.
The article also reminds that in April 2018, in the wake of PM Ranil Wickremesinghe defeating the no-confidence motion brought against him, there was a raucous demonstration outside the Sirasa TV premises by jubilant UNP activists. But the silent masked black-clad demonstrators, last Thursday, portends something much more sinister than the louder and more visceral demonstration against Sirasa last April. It adds that deliberate planned actions should cause much more concern.
The persons demonstrating outside media organizations are mostly employees of NGOs funded by the very foreign countries that openly backed the move to block the holding of a general election and that is a reason for the entire nation to stand up and take notice.
The article says the whole country saw the manner in which diplomats of Western embassies in Colombo went to Parliament to express support for the move not to have a general election and even sat in the courtrooms to ‘observe’ the proceedings. It questions, now, when people paid by the countries represented by those very western diplomats demonstrate in front of local media organizations what are we to understand from that?
President Maithripala Sirisena has, on several occasions, said that media freedom in the country has been ensured. Speaking before the United Nations 73rd General Assembly last year, President Sirisena reiterated the above and said that media freedom has been ensured int he country in the past three years.
In a backdrop where the President says this, shouldn’t legal action be taken against the NGO Dollar Gang that obstructs media freedom in the country. Should these people who operate with foreign funds and money that has been taken out from the bond scam allowed to act the way they want.
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