| by Upul Joseph Fernando

( January 21, 2015, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) "The media does not highlight the threats hurled at my supporters. The media behaves in a manner as if it does not know such things" – Mahinda Rajapaksa tells BBC Sandeshaya Channel from Medamulana after his defeat. When in power Mahinda labelled the BBC and the international media as contractors of the LTTE. When the United States brought a resolution before the UNHRC against the Rajapaksa government in March 2013, Mahinda's government disrupted the BBC Tamil Service. He censored all news that was critical of his administration. That was a violation of the agreement between the BBC and the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation. It appears that Mahinda has forgotten that past.

So now he claims that the media ignores attacks on his supporters.

This scenario recalls to memory, the services rendered by the alternative media spearheaded by Lasantha Wickremetunga in the past. Lasantha launched repeated attacks on the Chandrika Kumaratunga administration from 1994 – 2005. When Chandrika lost power and new President Mahinda Rajapaksa launched attacks on Chandrika, Lasantha's 'Sunday Leader' newspaper gave space for Chandrika's views too. If Lasantha was alive today, he would have given adequate space for Mahinda to highlight the attacks and issues faced by Mahinda and his supporters. Sadly Lasantha was mysteriously killed during Mahinda's regime. On the instructions of Mahinda, the 'Irudina' and 'Sunday Leader' publications of Lasantha was bought over by a businessman close to his government.
When a new government is elected, any attacks on the supporters of the defeated regime are usually reported by the alternative media. Also when new governments take office media institutions which indulge in business transactions with governments attempt to renew such links with the new government. Hence, they fear to report attacks on supporters of the defeated government. The only media that would act fearlessly is an alternative media as they do not contract businesses with governments.

This scenario recalls to memory, the services rendered by the alternative media spearheaded by Lasantha Wickremetunga in the past. Lasantha launched repeated attacks on the Chandrika Kumaratunga administration from 1994 – 2005. When Chandrika lost power and new President Mahinda Rajapaksa launched attacks on Chandrika, Lasantha's 'Sunday Leader' newspaper gave space for Chandrika's views too. If Lasantha was alive today, he would have given adequate space for Mahinda to highlight the attacks and issues faced by Mahinda and his supporters. Sadly Lasantha was mysteriously killed during Mahinda's regime. On the instructions of Mahinda, the 'Irudina' and 'Sunday Leader' publications of Lasantha was bought over by a businessman close to his government.

It is no surprise therefore that Mahinda, by going to suppress the alternate media while fondling the state media today has no media whatsoever. Mahinda never dreamt that he would end up back in the opposition. Had he thought in that direction, he would have realized the need of an alternative media, human rights, non-governmental organizations that spoke of democracy, the United States and West were important. When he was in the opposition from 1989 – 1994, he sought relief from the alternate media, NGOs, UNHRC and the western countries. That was why Mahinda went before the UNHRC to lodge complaints against the then administration. Upon assuming office as President, Mahinda erased that past from his memory.

David Gladstone divulges Mahinda's tattling...

If the UNP and Maithripala cause injustice to him tomorrow, he has only two places to make representations. First is the judiciary. But today he cannot go before the judiciary he once destroyed. Why? It was reported that he destroyed the independence of the judiciary. Therefore, how could Mahinda expect justice from a judiciary that is reported to be partial considering the past history? The second place he could go is the embassies of the west. When Mahinda was in the opposition during the Premadasa administration, Mahinda brought the issues faced by then opposition before David Gladstone, the former British High Commissioner in Colombo. Gladstone has recently divulged to the media how Mahinda divulged facts and information as an opposition MP to him. During the Rajapaksa regime it bitterly criticized the British High Commissioner in Colombo. Having won the terrorist war in 2009, the British High Commission in Colombo was pelted with stones and tomatoes.

It must be recalled that when British High Commissioner in Colombo, John Rankin stated in his website in 2012 that the government should withdraw troops from the North, Rankin was summoned by External Affairs Minister, Prof. G. L. Peiris and reprimanded. In the recent past, the former United States Ambassador to Colombo was accused of bribing government ministers by offering US dollars to overthrow the Rajapaksa government and urged the US to remove her from office. The UNHRC Commissioner, Navi Pillay was insulted. Allegations were also levelled at the incumbent UNHRC Commissioner.

Now where could Mahinda, the Rajapaksas' and their supporters go to lodge complaints about injustices caused to them? The country eagerly views that situation.

( The writer is an editor of Mawbima, a daily based in Colombo) 

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