Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Attacks against the media must stop

The past week has seen two attacks against the media the first, an armed attack and destruction of the MTV/MBC studios and second, the killing of The Sunday Leader Editor. We condemn these attacks unreservedly, because they strike at the very foundations of a free society. Any society worth living in must be one where we can "speak truth to power." As university academics we are committed to the pursuit of truth. Our academic freedom consists in the ability to conduct free inquiry and the space for free expression of ideas it is a tradition that goes back to Socrates and beyond.The government itself, inclusive of the highest in the land, has called for a full inquiry into these incidents. While we welcome this, we wish to assert that the mere calling for inquiries will not be enough. If a speedy and credible conclusion to such inquiries is not forthcoming, the government must appreciate that its own credibility is at stake, since both the recent attacks have been directed at entities that were critical of the status quo. The silencing of dissent is not a hallmark of a democratic society.

Professor Priyan Dias (Moratuwa)
Dr. Ranil Abayasekara (Peradeniya)
Dr. Sarath Dasanayaka (Moratuwa)
Dr. Suresh de Mel (Peradeniya)
Shantha Fernando (Moratuwa)
Dr. Hans Gray (Moratuwa)
Dr. Dileni Gunewardena (Peradeniya)
Dr. Romaine Jayewardene (Colombo)
Dr. T.S.S. Jayawardene (Moratuwa)
Dr. Chulantha Kulasekere (Moratuwa)
Rushira Kulasingham (Colombo)
Professor Amal Kumarage (Moratuwa)
S.N. Niles (Moratuwa)
Dr. Asoka Perera (Moratuwa)
Dr. Ranjan Perera (Moratuwa)
Dinesha Samararatne (Colombo)
Professor Vasanthi Thevanesam (Peradeniya)
Dr. Ruvan Weerasinghe (Colombo)
Professor Sunil Wickramasuriya (Moratuwa)
Dr. Suren Wijeyekoon (Moratuwa)
Dr. Shehan Williams (Kelaniya)

Others who wish to sign, please submit a comment.


Dr. Thrishantha Nanayakkara (Harvard University) said...

I fully support this request. The Government should put it's best efforts to investigate and bring the culprits before justice. Our country can not become a land of impunity. It should one day become a land of freedom.

Rohana said...

I would like to appreciate this request. When Government surrender
the Mulative and rest of the uncaptured area these culprits will automatically go away.
It is claer that desporate terrorist are doing these activities to blame the SL government, Military authotiries and get the attention to them.
If you read some tamil net articles they post middle east war pictures with modified names.
We need to have some legal way to control the illegal media activites as well.

sam said...


I support this brave initiative from Lankan academics. No matter how far we disagree with the message, this is not the way to handle journalists and media.

At this stage, we can only ask for impartial investigations. If the investigations are manipulated by other parties (as expected by some who implicate the forces in power), the blame will clearly come in their direction.

Anonymous said...

I do fully support the request.

It is quite natural to point out a finger in the direction of the ruling party when unfortunate incidents like these take place within the country. For the first time in decades, the humanitarian mission is going forward very successfully with a true leadership and blessings of the entire nation. While we are marking the history, the entire world is watching us without quite involving in the actions taken by the government to wipe out the terrorism from the country. In a very decisive time like this, by committing these types of inhumane crimes, a certain “group” is trying to tarnish the reputation of the President and deviate the watchful eye of the public to a different direction.
As usual, the government is in denial to all the blames put upon it. But we have come to a point to challenge the validity of these verbal declinations. As peace loving Sri Lankans, we demand the necessity of an impartial crime investigation to bring the criminals before justice.

Anonymous said...

When Mr. Sivaram of Tamil Net was killed in Colombo everone blamed the then government. But through the investigations it was found that PLOTE did it. This is also like that. You don't need to have an acadamic qualifications to understand this truth. First try to understand pulse of the Sri Lankan people. Not who are greedy for power.

Anonymous said...

Justice must be applied equally and Lasantha's case is not an exception. But I am wondering where these academics were when Richard De Soysa, Wijedasa Linarachchi, Premakeerthi De Alwis, Rajini Thiranagama and other journalists were killed. I see these movements as desparate attemts to derail the on-going war against terrorism.

Anonymous said...

Good point. These academics stood for freedom of expression when Richard De Soysa, Wijedasa Linarachchi, Premakeerthi De Alwis, and Rajini Thiranagama were murdered. Some of them were students at that time. Even if they didn't at that time, it is a good thing that they raise a voice from now on.

Dr Saman Halgamuge said...


I am an academic who would have signed this. It is a great thing that these academics stood for their country. Some of them may not have protested earlier. But doing so now is still great. If you read the statement, you would realise that it is fairly balanced.

I was a student overseas when Richard etc were killed. I have started a magazine full of information about these killings and posted it to about 200 Lankans living overseas (supported by some others to do so). I could do it because I was not in SL and goons could not reach me.

If we do not PROTEST NOW, we will be going back to that era, where we will not be able to PROTEST AT ALL in Sri Lanka. Therefore, these academics are true patriots of Sri Lanka. They deserve our support and encouragement.

Anonymous said...

Why now? Do we really know who did it or whome to protest? If it is government we are so glad to point our finger and protest. If it is somebody else we can keep our mouth shut.I am glad this is not 80's or early 90's.If so we would be on a burning tire in the middle of the road.At least now we have freedom to talk and write.Even if you want to give oxygen to dying terrorists you could do that.

Anonymous said...

I am sure all of you, who signed the petition, are very good academics and true patriots. The question is, AT THIS VERY MOMENT should we push the government too hard on this?. The government must stay focused to end the winning battle. As true patriots, we all have a huge responsibility to protect the government and end the conflict. Murdering Lasantha is an extreme cowardice act and there is no doubt about it. Attacking Sirasa, is questionable (If it wasn't a staged attack, as 90% of the country say, they deserve it ). As we hear from the media, the government is taking every action to investigate the murder. As it happened in the recent past, I am sure we all will see an end to these investigations and the culprits will be jailed. Until then, without a question, we must support the government to finish the humanitarian mission that it initiated!

SriLankans4 Peace said...

It is clear that the academics who signed this letter want justice to protect Sri Lanka's citizens. They don't point at the Government for assassinating Lasantha. It can well be done by LTTE or opposition. But it is the constitutional duty of the prevailing Government to activate the supreme justice. If they do not, who else is entrusted to do it on behalf of a country's citizens? The argument that the Government is too busy combating terrorism and thus it is acceptable to allow some level of impunity is as bad as tolerating terrorism.

Senerath said...

Efforts to advocate press freedom is important and one should be thankful to this drive. Another aspect the acedemics and professionals should remind themselves of is how little the learnered have contribited to the the well being of Sri lanka over more than half a century of technical education (medicine, science, engineering, management etc.. In light of the impending end of decades old war let the acedemics and professionals organize themselves to pioneer a knowledge based economy in Sri Lanka

Nissanka said...

Please pay your attention to our SL Secreatary of defence media statements that telecasted thorough ITN.here is the link

Hope everybody get the correct and accurate answers for the questions you may have about our motherland.

I am so impressed and would like to thank them for what they are doing to our country .

Dr Rumala Morel (Peradeniya) said...