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Sri Lanka minister a challenge to law enforcement: media watchdog
05 Aug, 2008 06:19:54
Aug 05, 2008 (LBO) - The culture of impunity and the continued attacks against Sri Lanka's media was condemned by the watchdog Free Media Movement, after a TV cameraman was assaulted by thugs while covering a state event.
Controversial minister Mervyn Silva grabbed the camera of a Sirasa and MTV network cameraman, while goons surrounded him at a state ceremony where all media was invited to attend.

"There is a culture of impunity, and the conduct of minister Mervyn Silva is a challenge to the government in maintaining law and order," FMM spokesman Sunanda Deshapriya said.

The attack took place in broad daylight in the presence of police, but no law enforcement officer came to the assistance of the cameraman when dozens of goons surrounded him, eye witnesses said.

"The cameraman was hospitalized with abdominal pains after they injured his testicles," head of MTV, Chevaan Daniel said.

The minister himself grabbed the camera and also removed the Sirasa TV microphone from the podium where guests at a bridge opening ceremony were scheduled to speak, eye witnesses said.

Minister Silva and his goons had previously assaulted the news chief of a state TV station and hundreds of television workers surrounded the minister and man-handled him, in an event that was televised nation-wide.

He was led away under police protection, but later a several persons who led the protest were assaulted or slashed with razor blades.

Though the ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party started an inquiry and media watchdogs called upon President Mahinda Rajapaksa to take action, no visible action has been taken and the ministers continues his war against the media with impunity.

International media watchdogs have named Sri Lanka as one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists, after Iraq without about a dozen journalists killed and several abducted and detained without trial.

The culture of impunity in the country, human rights abuses and 'the war against journalists' has come under fire from the European Union and United States.

An EU parliamentary delegation, last month said Sri Lanka is likely to lose trade concession from the EU which were originally given to encourage good governance, and the government can send a positive signal by taking action to end attacks on the media.

An independent media is considered essential to preserve and nurture democracy by countries where democracy is valued.

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READER COMMENT(S)
12. pp Aug 07
I do not agree or sympathize with Mervyn at all, but i wonder whether the readers approve the way some of these media behave as well ? particualrly the media organiation referred in this case.

Doesnt it look like they asked for it ?

I am sure they themselves like these things to happen so that they can show these from morning to nigt to the "immature" or "foolish" audience they have captured.

11. K-os Aug 07
Oh Vasu vasu where for art thou vasu !!!
10. Sithara Aug 06
A shameless man backed by a shameless government which now proves openly to support acts of violence! A government with supposed 'law makers' are the 'law breakers'!
9. Aug 05
We are a great nation with greater tolerance and again... the government is busy handling greater issues.
8. Ambulance Driver Aug 05
Jaya "viva", Dr,you will soon be promoted as Media Minister. You the only person who can --- handle the media personals. Court prosecution? Don't worry you will be pardoned.
Viva Banana republic
7. pp Aug 05
Well....... to me all these are immature drama cretaed for immature audience by an immature politician and an immature media organization.
6. Rajive De Silva Aug 05
Ruwan. please dont bother going to courts. You saw what HE did to Thondaman's judgement last week? The good doctor will get a presidential pardon. Afterall this is the Democratic Socialist Banana Republic of SL !!
5. Ruwan Aug 05
Wonder whether why media people don't go to courts on those issues. It is high time to put court cases for each and every misbehavior of this person, so at the end judicial system has to look after him very well....
4. JR - QATAR Aug 05
It is very crazy to the GOSL to be patient and silent on the barbarius acts of this mad minister. It seems to be that our beloved nation will be worst than Zimbabe, Ethiopia, etc as it has been 20th in the failed states list.
3. azdak_today Aug 05
This man's history of impunity proves that he acts according to a notorious Chinthanaya. Late President Premadasa's fate will be a good indication of what is in store for people surrounded by armed men and tend to forget the laws of nature and neglect their responsibilities.
2. Sugathan Aug 05
That's he is xxxx Mervyn Silva. Civilised people should get away from those. Because our polic eis also impotent and can't do anything. Sooner than later wives of those impotent police wil chase their husbands away.
1. Insu Aug 05
Vermin Silva????