The Federation of Media Employees Trade Unions strongly condemns the ongoing attempts to abuse parliamentary privileges to suppress the popular TV program ‘Televakiya’ and to intimidate its editor Lal Hemantha Mawalage, a veteran journalist attached to the Siyata Media Network. The Televakiya is a current affairs program that has become massively popular among TV audiences in recent times for its unafraid stance in criticizing the wrongdoings of the government. In return, the government is now trying to make use of the provisions in the Parliament Powers and Privileges Act to muzzle the media by summoning the journalists before Parliament Privileges Committee to question and institute legal actions against them. This highhanded action amounts to a serious threat against the freedom of expression.
Lal Hemantha Mawalage is a senior journalist who started his career in broadcasting at the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation. Since his inception there on Dec 28, 2008 he worked hard to stand against unjust and corruption. Because of his work, he had once come under a brutal attack from Mervyn Silva, a cabinet minister of the Mahinda Rajapaksa government. Mawalage had to flee the country to save his life in that instance. Up until now, there is no formal investigation into this to bring the culprits before justice.
We urge President Ranil Wickremesinghe to stop immediately the suppression of the media and journalists and remind him and his government that it is their duty to bring justice to the journalists who had been killed, maimed and became victims of enforced disappearances in the recent years. We, the Federation of Media Employees Trade Unions, emphasize that freedom of speech is a foundation of a democratic society, is a powerful value to social, economic, and political freedom.
The FMETU is a member organization of the International Federation of Journalists is the world’s most powerful media organization with a membership of more than 600,000 journalists from 146 countries, and 167 media organizations, and we jointly urge the government to stop immediately the attempts to make use of powers to parliament to gag journalists. We also call on people’s representatives in Parliament to oppose the government’s plans to punish the Siyata Televakiya, which stands for the traditional characteristics of Public Service Journalism.
Federation of Media Employees’ Trade Unions