Grave violation of media freedom during last decade


Media freedom in the country was gravely violated during the last decade, said Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

He said that late Esmond Wickremesinghe who fought for media freedom in the country would never have imagined that the lives of media personnel, who stood for media freedom would have been threatened in Sri Lanka.

The Prime Minister further said that great media personnel like Lasantha Wickramathunga were killed during the last decade.

He made these observations at the ceremony to present the Esmond Wickremesinghe Award for Media Freedom-2015, held at Committee Room A of the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH).

The 30th death anniversary of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s father, Esmond Wickremesinghe fell yesterday.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe further said the awards ceremony in memory of Esmond Wickremesinghe was organised three decades after his demise due to the request by civil society.

He added in those days, there was no need to talk about media freedom. He also added that, however when the UNP government handed over power in 1994, media freedom was guaranteed, allowing the UNP’s opponents to use the media against it.

The Prime Minister said there was a grave violation of media freedom during the past 10 years.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said that Esmond Wickremesinghe staged a massive protest campaign when Lake House was to be taken over by the government.

He added when Lake House was nationalised in 1973, J.R.Jayewardene requested him to publish newspapers in all three languages. The Prime Minister added that the publication of these three newspapers brought big profits, which were used for various purposes. He also added that when J.R.Jayewardene was elected President, media freedom was guaranteed.

The Commemoration Speech was delivered by Divaina founding Editor Edmond Ranasinghe while the Keynote Speech was delivered by former Editor in Chief of the The Hindu newspaper N. Ram.

Ven. Thiniyawala Palitha Thera, Indian High Commissioner Y. K. Sinha, Ven Athuraliye Rathana Thera, Opposition Leader R. Sampanthan, Ministers Lakshman Kiriella, John Amarathunga, Nimal Siripala de Silva, Malik Samarawickrama, S. B. Navinna, Daya Gamage, Wajira Abeywardena, Gamini Jayawickrama Perera, Rauf Hakeem, Sagala Ratnayake, Navin Dissanayake, Ruwan Wijewardene, and Thalatha Athukorala, Deputy Ministers Ajith P Perera, Wasantha Senanayake, and Anoma Gamage, UPFA Parliamentarin Dinesh Gunawardena, and Colombo Mayor A J M Muzammil also participated at the occasion.

The jury consisted of Dharmasiri Bandaranayake, Wasantha Kotuwella, Saman Athaudahetti and Prem Dissanayake.