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Attack on journalists in Murippu forest: Media groups demand justice



… Freddy Gamage alleges complicity of police

Professionals Web Journalists Association has called for a thorough investigation into the recent attack on two journalists in the Murippu forest in the Mullaitivu district.

The Association’s Convenor Freddy Gamage alleged that journalists Shanmugam Thavaseelan and Kanapathipillai Kumanan had been beaten up by gangsters on Oct 12 while they were covering ongoing illegal felling of trees in the Muruppu forest area.

Gamage told The Island that timber racketeers and illegal sand miners had the backing of local officials, including some law enforcement authorities, hence the reluctance on the part the police to properly inquire into the incident.

The civil society activist pointed out that the Mullaitivu incident took place close on the heels of illegal sand miners attacking a journalist in the Moneragala district. In a joint statement issued by Gamage and Kalum Shivantha, Convenor and Secretary of Professionals Web Journalists Association, respectively, the outfit questioned the complicity of the Wildlife Department in the ongoing deforestation in the Mullaitivu jungles.

The association emphasized that it would be the responsibility of the government to arrest those responsible without delay and ensure the proper investigation.

In addition to the Professional Web Journalists Association, International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its Sri Lanka associates the Free Media Movement (FMM) and the Federation of Media Employees’ Trade Union (FMETU) urged the government to bring the perpetrators to justice.

According to an IFJ statement, the journalists had been attacked by four men on motorcycles brandishing iron rods after they took photos and video footage of the illegal collection of timber in Murippu jungle area. Subsequently, the attackers snatched the camera and journalists’ mobile phones, and deleted the videos. The assailants also looted some jewellery and money. Kumanan received injuries to his head and nose while Thavaseelan lost a tooth. The attackers also threatened to kill them, the IFJ alleged in its statement.

The injured journalists were then taken to Mullaitivu District Hospital, where they received treatment. Media organizations expressed concern over law enforcement authorities turning a blind eye to complaints lodged by the journalists at Mullaitivu police. The journalists have told media organizations that the leader of the gang continued to roam in spite of multiple complaints lodged against him in the past.

Journalists who exposed the illegal smuggling of natural resources are frequently targeted in Sri Lanka, they alleged. Earlier, Derana TV journalist Indunil Wijenayake was attacked by sand-miners in the Kumbukkan Oya area of Moneragala district on Oct 3.

“It is a tragedy that journalists exposing the wrongdoings are attacked and perpetrators go unpunished. We urge authorities to initiate legal actions against those involved, regardless of their rank and political affiliations,” the FMM Convener Seetha Ranjanee said.

The FMETU General Secretary Dharmasiri Lankapeli said: “The FMETU calls for a speedy investigation into this brutal assault on journalists Shanmugam Thavaseelan and Kanapathipillai Kumanan and bring the perpetrators to justice.”

The IFJ said: “Attacks on journalists for exposing the illegal smuggling of natural resources and ongoing impunity in such cases contributes to the disturbing frequency of attacks on journalists. The IFJ urges the Sri Lanka government to take the case seriously and do all that they can to ensure that the perpetrators of these violent acts are punished.” (SF)

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COPE meets online for first time in its history



by Saman Indrajith

The Parliamentary watchdog committee – COPE (Committee on Public Enterprises) created a history by meeting online for the first time ever on Thursday.

The COPE had Secretaries of three Ministries joining in with its committee meeting through online (ZOOM) becoming the second parliamentary committee holding an online meeting in the country.

Thursday evening’s COPE meeting chaired by its chairman Prof. Charitha Herath connected online with Secretary to the Ministry of Health (Dr) H. S. Munasinghe, Secretary to the Ministry of Industries W. A. Chulananda Perera and, Secretary to the Ministry of Public Services, Provincial Councils and Local Government J. J. Ratnasiri via zoom technology.

The Environmental Audit Report on water pollution of the Kelani River was brought before the committee and the meeting held between the Chairman Prof. Herath, Ministers and Members of Parliament and secretaries and other officials continued without any technical hitches.

Secretary General of Parliament Dhammika Dasanayake said that facilities have been provided to hold meetings and discussions using online technology in two committee rooms in Parliament.

He said that Parliamentary officials had been working relentlessly for months to install the requisite technological tools and that the efforts have borne fruit and future Parliamentary meetings could be held online as a result.

The Committee on High Posts under the chairmanship of Speaker of Parliament Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena also held a discussion with the new Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Kenya, who was living in Kampala, using online technology recently.



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Legatum Prosperity Index highlights SL’s development of education and healthcare sectors



During the past decade

One of the key highlights of this year’s Legatum Prosperity Index was the improvement in Sri Lanka’s education and healthcare sectors over the past decade. These improvements were key to increase in prosperity within Sri Lanka, it was noted.

The London-based think-tank Legatum Institute launched the 14th Legatum Prosperity Index on November 17 2020.

The event commenced with the welcome address by the Chair of the Legatum Institute, Alan McCormick. 

Addressing the audience, the Chief Executive Officer of the Legatum Institute, The Baroness Stroud said that according to the Legatum Index, the global prosperity was at its highest level ever with 147 countries seeing their prosperity rise over the last decade.

Speaking at the launch, the High Commissioner of Sri Lanka in the UK, Saroja Sirisena said that the end of the terrorist conflict in 2009 and the ensuing peace dividend, led Sri Lanka to achieve steady progress within the last decade.

She highlighted that the universal free education and healthcare policies of the country over seven decades are the pillars on which prosperity is built.

Director of Policy of the Legatum Institute, Dr. Stephen Brien explained to the audience as to how the Legatum Index is used to measure prosperity across the world.

The event was also addressed by the Founder of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation in Africa, Dr. Mo Ibrahim, Biologist and Writer, Matt Ridley and Ambassador of Georgia in the UK Sophie Katsarava.

Legatum Prosperity Index is a global index that analyses the performance of 167 nations across 65 policy-focused elements, measured by almost 300 country level indicators and it is the only global index that measures national prosperity based on institutional, economic and social wellbeing.

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Quick Snacks and Party Recipes from North India with Sapna Mehra



The Swami Vivekananda Cultural Centre (SVCC), High Commission of India, Colombo, will be holding an online cookery demonstration on ‘Snack Time: Quick Snacks and Party Recipes from North India’ on December 5 at 11.00 am on its FACEBOOK page

This festival season, the Cultural Centre will present a virtual cookery demonstration by Sapna Mehra. Cooking has been a passionate hobby of Sapna since her childhood days. Growing up in a large family of 17 members, she was very keen on bringing variety to the dining table, and that’s when her cooking journey began, preparing simple wraps, and snacks.

She now specializes in cooking dishes from a variety of cuisines. Originally from Bangalore, she has lived in many cities across India and Sri Lanka, and at present resides in Delhi.

She has a Postgraduate degree in Marketing and has over 12 years work experience in the professional field.

All are cordially invited to attend. For more details, contact the Swami Vivekananda Cultural Centre on telephone No: 2684698 or Email:

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