SRI LANKA: Protest against intimidating social and cultural activists

15 July, 2013

We the undersigned, who stand for justice and democracy,  note with regret and concern the use of State media, especially the Independent Television Network (ITN) that uses its air time to stick labels on and intimidate social and cultural activists who stand for plurality and fair play and for their dissenting views.

It is almost habitual for ITN to vilify and attack dissenting voices and the most recent victim of such irrational, racist and intimidating attacks over ITN in its 07.00 pm Sinhala news bulletin on Sunday 14 July, 2013 was reputed writer, columnist and media activist Gamini Viyangoda. His name had been dragged into the controversy of the suspension of the French Film Festival on 12 Friday 2013 for screening the Sinhala film directed by Sanjeewa Pushpakuamara, “Flying Fish”, held at the BMICH. It should be clearly said, the certification for screening provided for this film by the Public Performance Board had been exclusively for this festival and Viyangoda, certainly has no role in it.

Gamini Viyangoda as we know quite well, is a well known public figure, who had always stood for freedom of expression, the rights of the oppressed and for minority rights including power devolution.  It is his right to express his convictions and conscience without restrictions.

We believe Gamini Viyangoda’s political convictions that we know disagrees with this government, but to disagree is a fundamental right in a democracy, was reason for the ITN to accuse and vilify Viyangoda as a “conspirator” over the screening of the film, “Flying Fish”. We stress it is a right of citizens to watch the film and form their own opinion. It can not be the prerogative of the government, to form opinions and thrust them on a society.

We therefore condemn most vehemently the attempt to vilify and disgrace Gamini Viyangoda and demand the ITN tender a public apology for the defaming and threatening media use against Gamini Viyangoda, an independent and a reputed writer and columnist in our public sphere.

Consented to stand with the above statement;

01. Wijeyananda Jayaweera
03. K. W. Janaranjana
05. Dr. Udan Fernando
07. Nalaka Gunawardne
09. Liyanage Amarakeerthi
11. Anton Marcus
13. Herman Kumara
15. Dharmasena Pathiraja
17. Dr. Jayampathy Wickramaratne
19. Nimalka Fernando
21. Lionel Bopage
23. Saroj Pathirana
25. Balachandran Gowtham
27. Fr. Jeyabalan Croos
29. Sr. Noel Christine
31. Dr. Nishan de Mel
33. Anomaa Rajakaruna
35. Fr. Emanuel Sebamalai
37. M. H. Mohamed Hisham
39. Siritunge Jayasuriya
41. Damaris Wickremesekera
43. Ruki Fernando
45. Sampath Samarakoon
47. Sumanasiri Liyanage
49. K. S. Ratnavale
51. Paba Deshapriya
53. Sumith Chaminda
02. Parakrama Niriella
04. Kusal Perera
06. J. C. Weliamuna
08. Melani Manel Perera
10. Sudharshana Gunawardne
12. Dr. Sunil Wijesiriwardne
14. Prasanna Vithanage
16. Dharmasiri Bandaranayake
18. Jayathilaka Kammellaweera
20. Gamini Akmeemana
22. Marisa de Silva
24. Upul Wickramasinghe
26. B. Shanthakumar
28. Chulani Kodikara
30. Uvindu Kurukulasuriya
32. Jake Oorloff
34. Fr. Terrence Fernando
36. Ainslie Joseph
38. Mano Ganesan
40. Hans Bilimoria
42. Dr. Pakiasothy Saravanamuttu
44. Emil van der Poorten
46. Dileepa Karunarathna
48. Dr. Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri
50. Sunil Jayasekera
52. Manjula Wediwardne
Document Type : Forwarded Press Release
Document ID : AHRC-FPR-036-2013
Countries : Sri Lanka,
Issues : Democracy, Freedom of expression, Judicial system, Rule of law,