Mangala , Wijedasa , Ranga … Does compensation payment to victims suffice to wash your hands off it ? - Poddala Jayantha

(Lanka-e-News -08.May.2017, 11.55PM)  Paying compensation to  the journalists who fell victims to attacks, just  in order  to wash the hands off it will not suffice  . An exhaustive investigation shall be conducted into all those crimes by a  presidential commission , senior journalist Poddala Jayantha who was also a victim of media suppression  has stated in the letters sent by him to ministers Mangala, Wijedasa , Gayantha and the Cabinet sub committee strongly urging them to take action in that direction. 

Poddala was one of the journalists abducted by the criminal white van to be liquidated during the brutal murderous lawless era of the Rajapakse regime. However , when that  attempt leaked out   , Poddala was released midway .  The murderers were so brutal that just during the  45 mins. Poddala was within the white Van , he was assaulted ruthlessly and his legs were broken most cruelly . Besides , his head was shaved and he was forced to swallow  his own  hair  .

Poddala who was abandoned  on the road to die was found by some passers by who took him to the hospital . Because Lanka e news made a complaint to the police in this regard , its editor and news editor too were arrested.  After preparing four bogus B reports , a request was  made to remand the complainants , but the magistrate declined  the request at that time. Because the police officer who prosecuted did not object to the magistrate’s order , he was transferred to Batticaloa the very next  day. Such was the egregious lawlessness that prevailed during that period of the despotic reign of Rajapakses who were so full of venom and vengeance against the journalists. 

It is for these reasons , Poddala has requested that a thorough investigation be conducted apart from the  payment of compensation . The full text of the letter sent by him to the secretary to  the cabinet sub committee Dr. Ranga Kalansuriya is hereunder ….

 

30-04-2017

Dr.Ranga Kalansuriya 

Secretary to Cabinet sub committee appointed for payment of compensation to aggrieved journalists , cum Director General (News) 

Dear Sir, 

Will compensation payment alone to aggrieved journalists suffice to wash the hands off it?

A proposal to the Cabinet sub committee inquiring into the inequities and injustices suffered by Sri Lankan journalists during the period between 2005 and 2015 …

If any government  has failed to mete out punishment to the criminals duly  after investigating the crimes , it is the absolute responsibility of that government to grant compensation at least  to the victims of those crimes. If the government for any reason is seeking to wash its hands off it after discharging that responsibility in part , then that crime is much worse than the original crime committed.

The media suppression in SL  has been raging under different governments in different ways . At least taking into consideration a given  period , through a special presidential commission vested with full powers an extensive and exhaustive investigation shall be conducted . 

Nature of  media suppression

If the period between 2005 and 2015 is considered , journalist killings; abductions; infliction of torture ; threats; attacks on media institutions; committing arson ;filing cases on frame ups; bringing pressure to bear on businesses of the media Institutions; threatening to cancel the frequency of the electronic media ; through outsiders purchasing  media Institutions by force; providing various inducements to journalists and media Institutions and silencing them ; and other criminalities not mentioned herein shall be reckoned as part and parcel of this media suppression .

Final outcome 

As a first step , after the media is gagged , the professional  associations ( not the GMOA , an association that has made terrorizing its weapon) , the civil organizations were de activated through threats and intimidation. The final outcome of those actions was the society  as a whole getting anesthetized , which enabled the ruling regime to achieve  its political agendas and aspirations without any impediment in whatever way they wanted.

After the social activities for the benefit of the country were stunted and society was  petrified , the bigwigs  of the ruling regime without control indulged in  monumental  frauds , corruption ,and abuse of  power , and made those  their lifestyle. In the end , the whole country had to abjectly surrender to the authority of a single family.

Cabinet sub committee ‘s inescapable responsibility 

Above is only a description in a nutshell .

It is my belief that your cabinet sub committee is vested with a responsibility much greater than merely  making recommendations to the government to release compensation  payments to the aggrieved . What your  committee cannot implement, can yet be  carried out  by making  a screen proposal to the government . That is , you can recommend to the government to appoint a fully empowered presidential commission to inquire into the crimes committed against the media personnel and Institutions during the period between 2005 and 2015.

The purpose of the right to information bill ..

It is salutary that the right to information bill which was a part of the agenda of  our struggle has come into being , its shortcomings notwithstanding . But while there exists a fierce media suppression , will there be a possibility to enjoy the full benefits of the rights conferred by this bill ?

To cite an example  , say during the previous regime , this enactment was in place ,and  if an individual requested  for information under that enactment which was in bad taste  to the then ruling government, that individual was without doubt taught a lesson which would prevent him from requesting for  that information again. Irrespective of the information requested and his right to information , the life of that individual who made that  request could have been terminated . In such an event,  thereafter , will anyone come forward to request information ?

Even though  a law is enacted  incorporating  a right, if anybody wishing to secure that right is killed violently , or frightened , will somebody else seek to possess that right ?

For example , when Prageeth , Lasantha and Sivaram were murdered the right to express and write one’s views  were  already incorporated in the laws of the country.

If any government had enacted laws regarding most sensitive humanitarian rights , it must be the responsibility of your government to build protective walls and fences against the obstacles and hurdles which militate against those enjoying  those rights. Otherwise the rights which are granted will not reap the desired  result for the society.

On the other hand , if any government after granting rights of   freedom to the country’s media , subsequently based on a spurious agenda uses that to commit barbarities , it must be the responsibility of a government to put in place mechanisms to preclude such crimes being committed against  the media , and to create an awareness among society to reject the media which don’t fall in line with those mechanisms.

If punishment is not meted out for the crimes committed after the investigation , and the gravity of the crimes is not debated among society , the recurrence of such incidents will be inevitable. After  the media is silenced and the society in general is anesthetized , the monumental harm that can result to the country is well  known , and we have experienced that harm well and truly. 

Payment of compensation to prisoners of  Welikade prison and to the  journalists

Though the report on the cruel murders committed within the Welikade prison was finalized  , it was concealed , and the families of the victims were each paid Rs. I million as compensation. This was not because the criminals could not be tracked down , rather it was because  the objective  was to shield the criminals. Hence does it mean  everything is  over simply because  compensation was paid  to those who suffered  ? 

Out of whose money are  the compensation being paid ? Was it only this group that committed such prison murders ? If the criminals are allowed to go unpunished , won’t similar murders be committed in the future ? By not probing into the root cause of the crime , and  for what reason it was committed,  while also keeping the society aloof from it ,  doesn’t  it tantamount to extending support to commit more such crimes? 

Based on what is revealed above, we  are naturally compelled to review  the compensation payments to the journalists who fell victims.

Why was Lasantha Wickremetunge murdered ? What did his murderers expect and was the reason for his murder  very trivial ? Why was Prageeth Ekneliyagoda abducted? What did  his abductors  expect and was the reason for his murder  very trivial   ? Were the so many  journalists of the North and East, and the employees of media Institutions there  about whom hitherto nothing had been discussed murdered based on very  trivial   grounds?

After the killing of Lasantha Wickremetunge, will such an investigative  English journalist  like him  spring up who could fill the  void ? If he was living how many monumental  frauds and corruption which raged in the country after his death would have been highlighted by him and would have kept the  society on alert ?

If the Welikade prisoners were not murdered , through those prisoners wouldn’t it have been possible  for  the country to get to know  at least half of the violent crimes  which were committed by  the political authority using them ?

The suspect who went to Kotte Rajamaha viharaya in search of Sapumal Kumaraya’s sword killed two monks . It is hereby  urged to give due  consideration to the fact that the suspect who  was fetched  after calling by his  name and killed  could have been   the prime witness against the political authority who used him to commit the murders .

In the circumstances , just paying compensation to the victims of the crimes is not going to halt such crimes being committed in the future – not by any means.

Wrong  example 

Moreover these set a bad example . Refraining from conducting an investigation into the crime committed by any  government ; not meting out punishment to the culprits; not making known to the society  the reasons for committing the crime, but concluding everything by simply paying compensation to the victims is to create a pernicious  tradition which sets in motion a most dangerous trend  within the country.

This is because every government for the crimes it commits to perpetuate itself in  power pays compensation to the victims out of the tax payments collected from  the masses . Why should the people pay compensation for the crime the rulers commit ?

Since that is the actual position , it is earnestly urged based on the above grounds , if recommendations are being made to pay compensation to the media victims , a presidential commission shall be appointed to conduct an exhaustive investigation into the crimes in  order that there will not be a  repetition .

This proposal was first made to the government by professional media association , but hitherto that was not given consideration . Therefore ,you are  hereby requested to present that proposal via  the cabinet sub committee once again to the government.

Thanks 

Yours faithfully 

Poddala Jayantha 

(former president of Professional  media association Sri Lanka)

[email protected]

New York, USA.

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by     (2017-05-08 23:01:10)

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  3 discussion on this news

Totally agree with Mr. Jayantha. We didn't vote them in to pay compensation. We want this Govt. bring in all those responsible criminals to justice. Anything less unacceptable. Our political culture MUST be changed and those who are still could do similar atrocities will do because they know the loopholes of the system. I strongly believe all masses in this beautiful island will agree on this
-- by Dam on 2017-05-09

Why should anyone offer compensation payments, let PJ fight the case and ask for justice. Its the CID who should bring the killers of the former regime to courts and panish them.
-- by saman on 2017-05-09

A fair trial for Rajapaksas filth then hanging at Galle face.
-- by janaka on 2017-05-10

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