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‘Journalists are now being arrested after forcibly entering their homes’ – Karu Jayasuriya



‘We see a different media culture’

In recent times, we see a different media culture. Instead of attacking them, journalists are now being arrested after forcibly entering their homes. Their computers are taken away and they are harassed. They are forced to make false statements. Some fabricate blatant lies to ensure the win of their favored politicians, says Karu Jayasuriya, Chairman of the National Movement for Social Justice (NMSJ).

“Character assassination has become common. They create racial and religious divisions. Religion has been made a commodity. As a result, we, as a country, are facing an unprecedented challenge. It is the next generation that will have to face the repercussions”, the former Speaker said at an event to commemorate journalists who laid down their lives for media freedom.

“Journalists will face many challenges in the future to protect media freedom. I will remain with you and continue to support you on that journey”, he stressed.

“Today, we are fulfilling a national duty. The eminent journalists we remember today have sacrificed their lives for us. According to reports, at least 117 journalists have been killed or have disappeared since 1981. An innumerable number have been subjected to great repression. Remembering these incidents causes us great mental anguish. Is it possible that such cruel and inhuman acts could take place in a civilized country?”, he asked.

“Today, you and I are gathered here to pay our respects to those great people. Or in other words to pay off our debts we owe them. The last such commemoration ceremony was held five years ago in 2015.The then convener of the Free Media Movement, Sunil Jayasekara is here today. The late Saman Wagaarachchi also greatly supported this endeavour”, Jayasuriya continued.

The National Movement for Social Justice would like to thank the team of journalists who proposed and organized this event. They worked hard and made many sacrifices for it. I would also like to thank the Journalists’ Association for a Just Society for its contribution towards event. Convener Priyantha Srilal and his team made many commitments and worked hard to make it a reality, he said.

He further said: “We are well aware of the plight of our journalists in the past. We recall how we sprung into action when journalists were shot at, when their homes and offices were bombed and when they were brutally assaulted. We have met some of the senior journalists here at some of those places. We are glad to see them here again. Today, we were able to meet Dharmasiri Bandaranaike and several members of the group who were hospitalized after being assaulted at Kumbukgete, Kurunegala and artistes who came under severe repression in Nittambuwa. They shed blood for a free and clean media.

“Journalism is a dignified service. It is the duty of an impartial journalist to provide truthful information to the public. But today journalists have to submit to the orders of certain newspaper chiefs. They are forced to fabricate stories or to create lies out of the truth.

“They are being used to assassinate the characters of certain individuals and to magnify the characters of others. This is the media culture of some of our institutions. Recently, we saw new newspapers launched. We congratulate all those institutions. I wish you the strength to move forward while defending the noble ethics of the media.

“Despite all this, it is fortunate that still there are respectable journalists in our country who carry out their media mission in accordance with their conscience. We salute them. We must change this hypocritical culture. It is the duty of those here to lead that fight. Knowing true and correct information is a basic human right. We did not win these rights easily. We don’t know to what extent that right will be protected under the 20th Amendment. But we will continue to stand for these rights.

“Finally I wish to make one important explanation before you. We continue to move forward in accordance with the vision put forward by Ven. Sobhitha Thera for justice, truth and fairness. We are an independent, impartial civil society organization. We do not have an ambition to create kings, presidents or prime ministers. But we have to protect the fundamental rights of the people of this country, which were destroyed by the 20th Amendment. It is that dangerous

“We kindly ask the authorities to not deprive the people of their right as we already see concerning signs. We will stand up and fully commit ourselves to protect these rights for our future generation”.

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SL gets Rs 452 mn for saving ill-fated tanker: Rs. 3.4 bn asked for



By Ifham Nizam and Rathindra Kuruwita

The Marine Enviro-nment Protection Authority (MEPA) yesterday received Rs. 452 million from London for having saved MT New Diamond, a super oil tanker that caught fire in the Sri Lanka’s territorial waters last year.

MEPA General Manager, Dr. P. B. Terney Pradeep Kumara told The Island that Rs. 442 million had come for the services rendered by the Sri Lanka Navy, MEPA and Rs. 10 million by way of a fine imposed on the Ship’s Captain.

However, Sri Lanka has to receive a much larger amount for the damage caused to the marine environment, Dr. Kumara said. Following the incident, Sri Lankan authorities filed charges against the Captain of the ill-fated vessel and made a claim for $2.4 million from the ship’s owners for the firefighting and pollution prevention efforts.

Twenty experts from the Universities of Moratuwa, Ruhuna and Sri Jayewardenepura submitted their recommendations as regards the damage to the environment, to the Attorney General. Based on the report, the Attorney General’s Department had asked for Rs. 3.4 billion (around USD 19 million) as compensation for environmental damage, the Coordinating Officer for the Attorney General, state counsel Nishara Jayaratne said.

Soon they would have discussions with the lawyers of the shipping agent concerned on compensation for environmental damage caused, she said.

Dr. Kumara, who is the former Head of the Department of Oceanography/Marine Geology of the Ruhuna University, said that the incident had caused deaths among marine species due to spillage of some toxic fuel from the vessel.

The MT New Diamond crude oil tanker was transporting 270,000 MT oil from the port of Meena Al Ahmadi in Kuwait to the Port of Paradip in India when a fire broke out in its engine room as the vessel was passing the eastern seas of Sri Lanka on September 3, 2020.

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PSC on gender equality meets for the first time



State Minister, Fernandopulle flanked by two other PSC members

Special attention on microfinance

The Parliamentary Select Committee appointed to further gender equality, to investigate instances of discrimination against women and to present recommendations to Parliament, focused on microfinance loans that are currently affecting a large number of women in Sri Lanka, when they met for the first time in Parliament recently.

The meeting was chaired by the State Minister of Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID-19 Disease Control Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle.

It was also revealed that the Cabinet had approved the re-establishment of an institution to regulate Microfinance loans in Sri Lanka.

The MPs also discussed the role of the Select Committee. They decided that the primary role of the Committee should be to investigate women’s grievances and all forms of discrimination based on gender, including workplace violence.

Another task before this committee is to examine and review laws that can be used to enhance gender equality, encourage relevant ministries and authorities to formulate plans to further gender equality and to allocate financial resources.

The Committee will also try to encourage greater women’s representation in decision-making bodies at the national and provincial levels as well as in government, civil society and the private sector.

MPs Rohini Kaviratne, (Dr.) Harini Amarasuriya, M. Udayakumar, S. Sritharan, Rohana Bandara and the Secretary to the Committee, Deputy Secretary General and Chief of Staff of the Parliament Kushani Rohanadheera were also present at the meeting.



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A/L Examination from October 04 to 30



The 2021 GCE Advanced Level examination would be held from October 4 to 30, Education Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris said yesterday addressing the media at his Ministry.

Minister Peiris said the examination was earlier scheduled to be held in August.

The Grade 5 scholarship examination would be held on October 03 and the 2021 GCE Ordinary Level (O/L) examination in the last week of January 2022, the Minister said.

“Usually, schools are open for academic activities for around 200 days a year. But in 2020, schools were open for about 150 days. It was around 130 days in the Western Province. We were not able to fill this gap with online classes due to lack of internet facilities in many parts of the country,” he said.

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