SL Minister's threats condemned by media associations

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 20 February 2007, 02:44 GMT]
Sri Lanka's Minister of Minister for Environment and Natural Resources, Champika Ranawaka's statement in Ravaya "advocating brutal suppression of democratic dissent," and call for the "elimination of those the JHU and NMAT perceive to be aiding and abetting the cause of the LTTE, including all pro-peace civil society activists and media activists," was condemned by a group of media associations in a press release issued Monday.

Full text of the release signed by Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association (SLWJA), Federation of Media Employees Trade Union (FMETU), Sri Lanka Muslim Media Forum (SLMMF), Sri Lanka Tamil Journalists Alliance (SLTJA), Free Media Movement (FMM), follows:

Disturbing statement by Government Minister prompts urgent call for clarification

We strongly condemn the statement Champika Ranawaka, Minister for Environment and Natural Resources, advocating the brutal suppression of democratic dissent, even through extra-judicial ways and means.

The Minister, in a statement made to the Ravaya newspaper on the 18th January 2007 stated (translation from Sinhala maintains the invective of the original):

“People will die, What can we do about it. Are you asking us the leave those alive? those bastads are traitors.

We can't do any thing because of wild donkey freedom in this country, if those can't be dealt with existing laws we know how to do it. If we can't suppress those bastards with the law we need to use any other ways and means, Yes”.

Koti Poster
The Minister goes on to express his support for a recent poster campaign by the extremist National Movement Against Terrorism (NMAT) - known as a close political ally of the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) to which the Minister belongs - calling for the elimination of those the JHU and NMAT perceive to be aiding and abetting the cause of the LTTE, including all pro-peace civil society activists and media activists.

We note that Champika Ranawaka has himself as well through his political party named dozens of prominent human rights and media rights activists, journalists and civil society leaders as terrorists on many occasions in the past.

The JHU supports all out war as the the most effective way to defeat the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and oppose any negotiated political settlement or peace process based on power-sharing.

The statement by Champika Ranawaka violates basic and inviolable principles of public office and grossly irresponsible for a member of parliament. Mr Ranawana effectively denounces democracy, condones extra-judicial action by the State and seeks to quell the growth of democratic dissent. To advocate the outright silencing of ideological opponents is to essentially advocate a fascist regime, with no respect for human rights.

We also wish to register our strong disquiet that Champika Rananwaka is known to be a close associate and advisor to the President. Accordingly, we wish urgent clarification from the Government on its position regarding the Minister’s statement. If it is found to be incongruent with the Government’s avowed commitment to democracy and human rights, it is incumbent upon the Minister to fully and urgently retract his statement and offer a public apology for what is tantamount to hate speech by a member of parliament.

We request all local and international rights and media organisations, as well as the democratic forces within the Government, to be vigilant in a context of heightened threats towards human rights and media freedom activists. We also urge all democratic political and civil forces to make their voice heard against this dangerous erosion of democracy.


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