Dare to be different

Ajith P. Perera, Chief Organiser, Bandaragama, UNP – අධිනීතිඥ අජිත් පී. පෙරේරා, ප්‍රධාන සංවිධායක, බණ්ඩාරගම, එක්සත් ජාතික පක්ෂය

Posts Tagged ‘Defence.lk’

Tigers restricted to 100 km2 area in North; So how come they kill civilians in Iginiyagala?

Posted by Ajith on February 21, 2009

This is what Defence.lk reported few minutes ago:

8 civilians hacked to death by LTTE terrorists at Iginiyagala

8 civilians including children were hacked to death by LTTE terrorists while 4 others including 2 children sustained serious injuries at Rathmalgaha Ella, near Rathugala in Iginiyagala today(Feb 21) at around 5p.m.

According to Iginiyagala police sources, LTTE terrorists have hacked the civilians who were mainly chena cultivators. The terrorists have also shot at the civilians at pointblank range the Police said citing the injured who had managed to flee the area.

Army and Police Special Task Force (STF) personnel were inducted to the area in pursuit of the suspected terrorists.

http://www.defence.lk/new.asp?fname=20090221_11

Are we missing something?

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If I get killed tomorrow, will President say “Ajith too was my friend”?

Posted by Ajith on January 31, 2009

I have been silent for a while. There were two reasons. The provincial council elections are around the corner and these days it takes most of my time. Still, that was not the only reason.

For the last few days I have been repeatedly asking from myself: Should I continue this blog? Is it worth the risk? What makes me certain that no black clad men in motorbikes waiting to show their appreciation for what I write here and Face Book?

I am sure I am not the only blogger who had that strange feeling.

Let me not exaggerate my humble efforts. Compared to what mainstream media Sirasa and Sunday Leader/Irudina could do and have actually done, my blog is nothing. I write largely in English and get 500-1,000 daily hits on average. That is still far less than what Defence.lk receives. I do not see anyone perceiving my blog as a barrier to army capturing Mullaithivu. I do not think it breaks SLFP block votes. According to what I hear, or rather I don’t hear, not even 1% of my electorate reads it (this gives me some independence!) So prima facie, me getting killed for what I write here does not even look remotely possible.

Still at the height of the events early January I, or rather my blog, received some limelight. It received more than 2,000 daily hits for a period of about one and half weeks, culminating at 5,700 hits on the day of Lasantha’s funeral. I created two groups in Face Book, for Sirasa and Lasantha and both have now memberships nearly 2,000.

To say the least, this prominence doesn’t necessarily make me comfortable. Certainly not at a time like this.

Me at Lasantha Wickramatunga's funeral

Me with party colleagues at Lasantha Wickramatunga’s funeral

Whoever attacked Sirasa or killed Lasantha Wickramatunga, did not really scare us. We still had enough guts to attend Lasantha’s funeral and openly critisise these horrendous acts. (This was the same adjective Cheevan Daniel used in his famous commentary to CNN) We wore black saatakas.

What really made most of us rethink was the attack on Upali Tennakone.

Upali Tennakone, the soft spoken Rivira Editor, was no Lasantha. Like almost all Sinhala newspaper editors of our times (with the exception of Victor Ivan) Upali was more comfortable in swimming downstream. He always gave few pages, and usually the headlines for war news. He reserved half-page for the girl friends, wives and relatives of armed force members to show their affection to dearly beloveds in North. He did nothing even vaguely irritating the Sinhala Taliban mind. All could have done was a minor mistake, someone somewhere took too seriously.

Upali Tennakone was attacked in the most brutal manner. He was nearly killed, if not for his brave wife who fought and shouted at attract the attention of passers-by. It could be the same gang. Who was behind it still remains a mystery.

Somebody thought Upali Tennakoon’s life could be spared. That much is clear. Will the same people give importance to the lives of other dissidents?

Much changed after this than did in the aftermath of Sirasa and Lasantha incidents. At least ten prominent journalists and media activists ran away for life. Lanka Dissent went off-line promising its readers it would appear the day the country is more civilized. (I am not sure when) Lanka eNews started publishing diluted stuff. Defence Watch, Corruption Watch and Development Watch stopped. Only one protest against the attack happened – attended by few those who covered their faces with masks. Chamil Jayaneththi, the one brave man to show his face was charged.

vwnpsqe5v4k3b045rehaj055_media20protest20tennakoon201

Mangala Samaraweera, a former Foreign Minister left the country, fearing for life.

Can an ordinary human being feel safer when an ex-Foreign Minister is scared?

Sadly we live in an era where the life of a human being has lost its value. It is not a surprise. Since it came to power barely three years back, Mahinda Rajapakse government has seen more than 15,000 deaths – one fifth of the total died since 1983 as a result of ethnic war in North and East. Did anyone see the value of these 15,000 lives?

Even at the moment of writing this note, nearly 200,000 civilians, men women, old and young, adults and children are trapped in Wanni, at the mercy of LTTE that prevents their crossing to government controlled areas. I am not talking about LTTE, but about the civilians – like you and me, like our children. How many in our society care for these lives?

Jathika Hela Urumaya, sadly led by few who claim to be ‘Buddhist’ monks see no value of these lives. According to JHU, they are no civilians, but families of LTTE cadre. They should be eliminated perhaps the same was the Yakshas were got rid of at Mahiyangana, 2,500 years ago, according to Mahawamsa.

See the numbers. Will those who do not see the value of 200,000 lives respect just one life?

Under normal circumstances none of us take additional security precautions. We have a feeling that law and order of the society is adequate protection. We know somebody could not just kill and disappear. We know the police will be pressurized by public for action.

These are not ordinary times. We heard the President saying Lasantha Wickramatunaga was his close friend. (Though we never saw the same remorse on his face – as we saw on the day of Anura Bandaranaike’ death. Perhaps he has learnt to restrain emotions since then. Or he was still feeling jubilant of the Kilinochchi victory) If Mangala Samaraweera were killed tomorrow I am sure he too would instantly become president’s friend. President will also remind us Mangala was his campaign manager in the Presidential election of 2005. We know at least the latter is true.

I am sure if I were to be killed tomorrow, President will still say “Ajith was my friend; I am shocked to hear his death” without batting an eye lid. No doubt, everyone likes to be a friend of the omnipotent ruler who rules the land, but it would not be that much fun posthumously.

Should I quit or remain blogging?

Should I try to be President’s friend or remain as plain Ajith P. Perera?

Should one blog even when the Sword of Damocles hanging above one’s head with a single horse hair?

The question is open to you – all my regular readers.

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www.citizens.lk: Government wants two nude photos of every citizen for security purposes

Posted by Ajith on January 10, 2009

Big Brother's face looms from giant telescreens in Victory Square in Michael Radford's 1984 film adaptation of George Orwell's Nineteen-Eighty Four.

Big Brother's face looms from giant telescreens in Victory Square in Michael Radford's 1984 film adaptation of George Orwell's Nineteen-Eighty Four.

The confusing SMS received today from nowhere requesting registration at http://www.citizens.lk was first taken as a hoax or joke by many. (Interestingly, the text I received misspelled the URL as http://www.citizen.lk. There is no such site.) The approach was so atypical for government of Sri Lanka. Our brown sahibs were never known for announcing e-government services by SMS. A quick check at Sri Lanka domain registry http://www.nic.lk verifies the URL is indeed registered to Ministry of Defence, Public Security, Law & Order. Will anyone risk playing a hoax at that level?

The site, unfortunately, further confuses a visitor. It makes one think more along the hoax idea. There is no logo; no photo; no link to the official site of Ministry of Defence (or any other government site, for that matter); no telephone number; no email – well, the list is long.

Do not take it personal guys, but http://www.citizens.lk is the most stupid site I have seen. Defence.lk is not always known to expressing the truth, but at least its design is decent. Compared to that, this looks as if designed by the same guys who did hedging deal. An online discussion has already begun to talk about its security loopholes.

internet_-_it_doesnt_make_you_stupid_it_just_makes_your_stupidity_more_accessible_to_others

Assuming this is genuine (I am still not sure) it raises so many questions.

Does government expect all citizens to register through Internet? Does the Defence Ministry babus are so stupid to assume that every citizen has Internet access or knows English? (There is only an English version) What guarantee the government has that everyone enters right information? Cannot somebody enter false information under the name of an ex-lover from a cyber café? How government knows that everyone has completed the process?

The type of the information expected include the ‘Date of Arrival’ and ‘Expected date of Departure’. Well, filling the first is cool. It is the birthday for most of us. How the hell we know the ‘Expected Date of Departure?’ Are we soothsayers? I am sure astrologers will have good business. Predicting the death of 19 million is no small task.

Then, the most important question.

The government already has all this information in multiple places. Ask Grama Niladharis or Election Commissioner. They know all about us. Why does the Defence Ministry need them again? Isn’t it simpler to obtain it from Grama Niladharis?

Further, the government is already is in the process of building a Population Registry under the World Bank funded e-SriLanka program. It takes time because it is complex. Computerising the information of 19 million is not easy. If somebody thinks setting up a web site – that too only in English – can achieve it, we have a big problem there, guys. Just imagine the trouble we had registering 10 million or so mobile phones.

pledge

Anyway forget Orwellian possibilities (1984 and BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU!) Big Brother has to be smart. These idiots cannot play Big Brother even if they want to. All they will have is an incomplete database with unverifiable information. What can anyone do with that?

About the nude photos? – Well forget it. I added it to make news more sensational. (Naughty me!)  At least they are not up to that – not yet. Still it is a possibility. As long as we have enough gullibles who would do hesitate to drop their pants upon hearing the words ‘National Security’, I will not be surprised if government actually asks for them.

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Sirasa TV Depanama, Pannipitiya attack: Defence.lk still does not know!!

Posted by Ajith on January 6, 2009

lv02

Today morning, we have heard the nastiest ever attack on the media freedom in Sri Lanka. This is an act no civilized human being will ever approve. The people’s right to know the truth, ironically guaranteed by ‘Mahinda Chinthana’ – the election manifesto of the present regime was seriously challenged by the gundas who took the law to their hands. The only true free electronic media station was attacked and vandalised.

The culprits were not identified. The motives were apparent. Somebody badly wants to silence Sirasa TV. It looks like more people than few frustrated bloggers like A Voice in Colombo, Jathika Chinthana Pravahaya, Namal Udalamatta and, Damith Prasanga would like to see Sirasa down. There are more enemies to media freedom.

Surprisingly, Defence.lk that ‘patriotic’ site runs on public money which gives us live commentaries on the capture of every tiny hamlet in North within no time, still have not heard of the incident, after more than six hours. Probably the web master of Defence.lk does not watch TV. Thoththa babas go to bed early.

Who benefits from burning down Sirasa studios at Depanama, Pannipitya? Who wants Sirasa silenced? I do not think I have to answer those questions.

Sirasa TV specially and Maharaja Group at large were certainly under threat for the last few days. It was just last Friday somebody threw a petrol bomb at the same station. So the Police had a definite responsibility to protect them. Unfortunately this is not an era we can expect politics-free government service.

By the way, someone please wake up those Defence.lk guys. They might be still sleeping.

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Bomb Blast in Slave Island Colombo at Air Force Head Quarters

Posted by Ajith on January 2, 2009

There has been a bomb blast at the entrance of Air Force Head Quarters in Colombo Fort. According to Daily Mirror.lk 2 died and 32 injured.

However Defence.lk announced a bit different version, as follows.

An LTTE suicide bomber has exploded himself at Slave Island , Colombo this evening causing heavy damages to a civilians bus plying from Pettha to Moratuwa (Jan 2).

According to the available information, the suicide bomber has exploded himself in front of the entrance of the Air Force camp down the C.A. Gardiner road. One person has been killed and several others suffered injuries. The injures have been rushed to the National Hospital, Colombo.

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Defence.lk Gobilas show their true racist colours

Posted by Ajith on June 18, 2008

Should a Ministry website that runs by the tax payers’ money act racist? (NB. The tax payers in Sri Lanka are not just Sinhalese)

Should a ministry website that does not recognize it as a general news site run stories not relevant to its mandate?

Defence.lk Gobilas try their best to demonstrate their intention is only to present defence related news (Please note, in Sri Lanka ‘DEFENCE’ is synonymous with  ‘WAR’) but unfortunately their true racist slip sometimes becomes too evident.

Can Defence.lk Gobilas tell us what the news story ‘Tamil Gangsters to be sentenced for murdering youth by stabbing – London’ has to do with the mandate of Defence Ministry?

There is no mention in the story the accused are Tamils of Sri Lankan origin. (Contrary to the loaded ‘news story’ in Defence.lk implies they are not yet ‘sentenced’.) Perhaps the Defence.lk Gobilas do not know there are other countries from which Tamils migrate to UK.  Even if they were Sri Lankan Tamils there is no evidence they are linked to LTTE. So how does the story of four Tamils in South London killing another of their own becomes a security concern for Sri Lanka?

So one of the following messages can be what Defence.lk wants to imply either intentionally or not.

1. All Tamils abroad are gangsters. They also collect money for LTTE and kill those who don’t contribute
2. Tamil abroad brings ‘bad name’ to Sri Lanka. They live dubious lives abroad.
3. All Tamils are gangsters/terrorists. So the only way to attack terrorism is to attack Tamils.

However, I do not blame only the blind government for this. This is also the fault of Sri Lankan Tamils. As they have indicated in 2005 Presidential Election, the majority of Tamils of Sri Lankan origin does not want to be in the democratic arena. When they avoid voting they lose their influencing power. Ruling party knows that too well, and subjects Tamils to  humiliation, knowing well they will not vote against.

That is why we see government websites like Defence.lk acting racist at the drop of hat. They aim for Sinhalese vote banks. They do not care for Tamil votes – which, in reality do not exist.

Unless we can bring all communities in Sri Lanka within the democratic framework, this will continue.

(PS. The term ‘Gobilas’ is used as the plural to connote the character of Dr. Paul Joseph Goebbels, Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945, from who the Defence.lk guys have learnt their first lessons.)

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Defence.lk Gobilas declare war on media

Posted by Ajith on June 1, 2008

Not all Sri Lankan media is dancing to the tune the government wants them to. Obviously someone is irritated. Level of irritation is seen from the content of Defence.lk. – Yes, this is the same site has won an international reputation for its unbiased and truthful reporting (“Heavy fighting in Muhamalai. 157 tigers killed and one Sri Lankan army soldier suffers minor injuries in his left thumb”)

Before I get into the topic – brief description about this site. As said in its front page it is run by the Ministry of Defence, Public Security, Law and Order. So whoever behind is paid by the public money collected from tax payers. They have to work for public – not for a political party or political figures. Unfortunately this is not what we see from this web site. The Gobilas behind it are ready to run errands for any petty politician that supports Rajapakse government. How Defence.lk ran errands for Pillayan during the Eastern provincial council elections was a good example.

Humiliating and insulting media personnel to the level of putting their lives to danger is nothing new to the Gobilas of Defence.lk. One instance of doing this was depicting Mr. Ranjith Wijewardene, Chairman, Wijeya Newspapers, Mr. Siri Ranasinghe, Editor, Lankadeepa and Ms. Champika Liyanaarachchi Editor, Daily Mirror (both newspapers published by Wijeya Newspapers) as dogs manhandled by Prabhakaran. The message is clear. These are the traitors and you know what to do with them.  It is just the luck of these media personnel that inborn Sinhala chauvinists of Champika Ranawaka and Wimal Weerawansa type did not take it seriously. Otherwise their fate would have been not too different from that of Keith Noyahr.

The latest was to combine Sirasa and LTTE logo together. This appears on top of what looks like a long explanation to the dubious role some high ranking officers played recently. Written in impeccable English, this article unsuccessfully tries to portray the war reporting to a conflict of media and soldiers.

This is what Defence.lk says (two paragraphs reported verbatim, emphasis mine):

We have serious concerns over this “defence analyst” issue. We do not mind any person trying to make his living by writing whatever crap to the newspapers. It is the freedom of expression that we have vowed safeguard even at the risk of our lives. Yet, we too have our right to lay bare the truth of those cowboy defence analysts, for the good of the public. War is handled by officers with 35-40 years of service, who had spend most of their lives in the battlefront, we seriously do not believe that people like Mr. Iqbal Athas have any capability to question about military tactics, service promotion schemes or even about the military procurement.

For instance, some of the so called “defence analysts” in Sri Lanka have a great tendency to give misleading picture on military PROCUREMENTS. They always quote numbers and try to speculate something fishy about the deals. Nevertheless, they rarely inform the public about the needs of the soldiers and the urgency of meeting such requirements. Those speculations are much often aimed at character assassinations of the service commanders than informing the public. What these “analysts “hide form the public is that all these PROCUREMENTS are being made after a thorough analysis of expert technical evaluation boards and on their recommendations. Also, what public is unaware about these mean spirited people is that they are being highly paid by the weapon dealers for acting as the opinion makers for them.

I think the cat jumps out of the bag here. So the who issue is about ‘PROCUREMENTS’, nothing to do with war. Ha Ha Ha. How funny. It is the PROCUREMENT information they are so worried about – NOT the security details.

Anyway the threat is clear. Media have been named. It is not difficult to understand the underlying threat behind statements of this nature:

“Any discernible person who sees Sirasa TV, or reads the Sunday Leader, the Morning Leader, Iru Dina, the Daily Mirror, and the Sunday Times, Lanka Dissent, Lanka E news, etc can understand the way that the soldiers are being humiliated, scorned and blamed.”

Can we have any clearer indication where media freedom stands today?

(GOBILA is a Sinhalisation of the surname of Paul Joseph Goebbels, Minister for Public  Propaganda in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945, and not meant as an insult)

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Defence.lk confirms: MARTIANS abduct and beat Keith Noyahr!

Posted by Ajith on May 28, 2008

Defence.lk, which has won an international reputation for its unbiased and truthful reporting (“Heavy fighting in Muhamalai. 157 tigers killed and one Sri Lankan army soldier suffers minor injuries in his left thumb”) today confirmed the initial suspicion that MARTIANS have actually abducted and beaten Keith Noyahr, Deputy Editor of ‘The Nation’ newspaper. Defence.lk also expressed suspicions that the MARTIANS who did this beating were actually linked to LTTE and they have done this to discredit Rajapakse government, which was recently congratulated by Bishop Desmond Tutu and President Jimmy Carter for its immaculate record in maintaining human rights.

ITN Sri Lanka web site too confirmed the news. “We are saddened by this incident of MARTIANS beating one of our key journalists” Media Minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa was reported saying at the weekly briefing of the cabinet decisions. “This is a planned move by the MARTIANS to discredit the government. We are fortunate that in spite of this move by MARTIANS we could win a seat at UNHCR as planned because of the dedication of our government to protect human rights”

Meanwhile Defence.lk today launched a new payment gateway for collecting money to pay the medical bill of the slain journalist Keith Noyahr. Speaking at this occasion Secretary to the Ministry of Defence noted the unparalleled work done by journalist Keith Noyahr by  unbiased reporting. “I remember well how impartially he interviewed me. I am saddened to hear that he was abducted and brutally beaten by MARTIANS. It is inhuman.” Defence Secretary also expressed confidence that his ‘podi aiya’ will find the culprit MARTIANS as soon as possible the same way he found the culprits of the killings of Red cross workers, 17 aid workers in East, Maheshwaran, Nadaraja Raviraj, Joseph Pararajasingham and more recently the two police officers in the Eastern province.

The government also announced that it plans to provide a duty free vehicle and a computer to Keith Noyahr, as promised by ‘Mahinda Chinthana’ during the Presidential election of 2005.

“We think of bringing his duty free vehicle immediately so that he can return from the hospital in it” said Media Minister Anura Priyadharashana Yapa today announcing cabinet decisions.

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