Lifting censorship said ill timed for SLA

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 30 May 2001, 13:31 GMT]
The Sri Lankan government Wednesday lifted the draconian censorship on reporting the war against the Liberation Tigers. The reason for the move is not clear, military sources in Colombo said. The censorship, imposed in May 1998, banned, among other things, reporting on military operations planned by the Sri Lanka army and on purchases of military hardware. However, the censorship generally inhibited the Sri Lankan press from candidly reporting about the Sri Lanka army and its military activities in the north and east of the island.

Analysts in Colombo said that the lifting of the censorship could not have come at a worse time when the army is still reeling from a major debacle in Jaffna last month.

The analysts said that the lifting of the ban on reporting the war against the Liberation Tigers would expose the army's short comings further, to the full glare of public scrutiny- a development, they feel, that might damage the standing of many in the SLA's officer corps.

Sri Lanka's respected defence correspondent Iqbal Athas has been arguing in his widely read column that Colombo should lift the ban so that public would know how the war is being waged and thereby help improve the army's efficiency through constructive criticism.

Earlier, Deputy Defence Minister Gen. Anurudha Ratwatte impressed upon senior newspaper editors in Colombo to "show restraint on reporting on the SLA".

Following is the text of the brief statement issued by the Director of Information Mr.Ariya Rubesinghe Wednesday evening.

"The Emergency (Prohibition on Publication and Transmission of sensitive Military Information) Regulation No: 1 of 1998 has been lifted with immediate effect by Her Excellency the President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge".

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