SRI LANKA: The rights of the people to be accurately informed

 the Sunday Leader issueThe Editor
Sunday Leader Newspaper
Leader Publications (Pvt) Ltd.
98, Ward Place, Colombo 7
Sri LankaFax : +94-75-365891 – email :

Dear Sir,

The short summary of the letter I sent to you on January 1, 2007 published in your paper on January 7, amounts sadly to a very crude distortion of my letter.

In the article ‘Targeting CBK and LTTE’s southern gift’, by Dilrukshi Handunnetti, there was a carefully crafted distortion which would have created a completely false impression about a letter written by Maria Francisca Ize-Charrin, Secretary of the Commission on Human Rights, which Handunnetti used to challenge the credibility of the Asian Human Rights Commission.  In my letter I explained at great length that this was a complete distortion which I did not, at that stage say, discredits your newspaper.

In Handunnetti’s article there was a boxed item called the “AHRC violated NGO guidelines – UN.”  In my letter I showed that this was false.  Handunnetti ‘s article belongs to the meanest type of writing which goes to the extent of distorting documents.  I sent you all the relevant documents in support of my reply for your perusal by DHL.  I did so due to my belief that a responsible editor would take the issue of the distortion of documents extremely seriously.  Your paper publishes such documents often.  As a reader I will from now have a great doubt as to the authenticity of such documents.

I have shown that I gave you documentary evidence that the Sri Lankan Delegation to the UN tried to resort to sophistry by objecting to the ALRC distribution of AHRC documents and that once this was objected to, the delegation withdrew this allegation.  If a journalist can resort to distortion of documents can the distance from what is written and what is true be more distant than that.

In my reply I also showed that trying to link critiques of human rights organisations with terrorism is the strategy to suppress all criticism.  The recent protest by you of an attempted arrest was on the same grounds.  Is the use of terrorism charges against a newspaper editor any better of worse that a similar allegation against human rights organisations?  Or is everything relative to political allegiances.  If the newspapers try to relativise the struggle for freedom on the basis of political allegiances or convenience are not the people being fooled all the time?

I request the publication of my full reply for the benefit of your readers to the disgusting piece written by an unscrupulous “journalist”.  Your readers were misinformed deliberately by a false propaganda piece purporting to be a newspaper article.  Your readers have that right to hear our version as we too are a well known human rights organisation in the country.  As a regular reader of your paper I will consider it my right to know when the version given in your newspaper is being contradicted by persons or organisations affected by it.  This also, of course, is a matter of the basic rights of the .

Thank you.

Yours faithfully,

Basil Fernando
Executive Director
Asian Human Rights Commission, Hong Kong

Document Type : Open Letter
Document ID : AHRC-OL-002-2007
Countries : Sri Lanka,