Sri Lanka needs International press as local press is silenced.
Sri Lanka's need for openness and accountability is growing more than ever.
After the defeat of LTTE since last may, the tightness and human rights violations have only escalated. The rare opportunity to form a political reconciliation is ignored by the political dictatorship of Rajapaksa brothers.
The main opposition leader has been put in jail to disable him for the general elections coming up. The reason given for the arrest is that the former commander betrayed Sri Lankan Army laws once he said he would testify against war crimes committed during the last few days of the brutal war ended last May 19; UN claims more than 40,000 Tamils were killed in the war. However, the Sri Lankan government vehemently denies any independent inquiry into the matter.
With all the local press is silenced against talking anything against the government, the Sri Lanakn government posing a threat to all Sri Lankans' independence regardless. However, the Tamils are depressed even further in a climate where they did not have a voice to begin with after the defeat of Tamils rebel force.
26 January 2010 - Websites blocked just hours before poll results due to be announced
26 January 2010 - All-out propaganda and intimidation in run-up to presidential election
25 January 2010 - Political reporter and cartoonist missing in Colombo on eve of election
The rare climate for long lasting peace in Sri Lanka can only be harvested by accommodating the grievances of Tamils and by ensuring democracy for all in the island. However, to lead the democracy process, only international press can talk freely regarding the issues of Sri Lanka, and it need to do so due to making use of the window of opportunity for peace. Continued human rights violations against the Tamils community, and now as well as the Sinhalese community will only set the stage for a long lasting turmoil in the beautiful but blood stained island.
At the core of Sri Lanka's problem is a rotten constitution, which gives the president near dictatorial power. Opposition members in parliament are easily bought through cushy ministerial appointments, and the chief justice of the Supreme Court is appointed by the president.
A populist and a nationalist in the mold of Hugo Chávez, President Rajapaksa is able to win political points by defying diplomatic pressure from the West, a fact that often makes the application of that pressure self-defeating. On Feb. 16, the European Union dropped Sri Lanka's preferential trade status because of human-rights violations, but the lead article on the issue in Sri Lanka's state-run newspaper began with a prideful quote from Rajapaksa's central bank governor, "Sri Lanka is not prepared to barter its sovereignty for the sake of regaining the tariff concession and will continue with its stated policy instead of giving in to any unfair demands."
As long as the government can control the conversation like that — deftly transforming international concern about human rights into the politically attractive issue of sovereignty — there will be little impetus for reform. Accountability and openness go hand in hand. So the first step forward falls to the press. Since the Sri Lankan press can't speak up for itself, it's the duty of the international press to speak on its behalf.
Rajapaksa goverment houses the major predator of the press freedom in Sri Lanka.
Predators Gotabhaya Rajapakse - Sri Lanka
The president’s younger brother and minister of defence, Gotabhaya Rajapakse is openly hostile to the media, denying journalists access to war zones and Tamil areas in general and urging the state media to attack independent journalists and civil society representatives. He has clearly put into effect what he said in 2008: “Journalists should not be allowed to write about military matters and strong action should be taken against those who do.” Most defence correspondents have left the country or use bodyguards, for fear of being targeted by death squads. Two Tamil journalists have been jailed under an anti-terrorism law just for criticising the military offensive he launched.