We the undersigned, who stand for justice and democracy, note with regret and concern the use of State media, especially the Independent Television Network (ITN) that uses its air time to stick labels on and intimidate social and cultural activists who stand for plurality and fair play and for their dissenting views.
It is almost habitual for ITN to vilify and attack dissenting voices and the most recent victim of such irrational, racist and intimidating attacks over ITN in its 07.00 pm Sinhala news bulletin on Sunday 14 July, 2013 was reputed writer, columnist and media activist Gamini Viyangoda. His name had been dragged into the controversy of the suspension of the French Film Festival on 12 Friday 2013 for screening the Sinhala film directed by Sanjeewa Pushpakuamara, “Flying Fish”, held at the BMICH. It should be clearly said, the certification for screening provided for this film by the Public Performance Board had been exclusively for this festival and Viyangoda, certainly has no role in it.
Gamini Viyangoda as we know quite well, is a well known public figure, who had always stood for freedom of expression, the rights of the oppressed and for minority rights including power devolution. It is his right to express his convictions and conscience without restrictions.
We believe Gamini Viyangoda’s political convictions that we know disagrees with this government, but to disagree is a fundamental right in a democracy, was reason for the ITN to accuse and vilify Viyangoda as a “conspirator” over the screening of the film, “Flying Fish”. We stress it is a right of citizens to watch the film and form their own opinion. It can not be the prerogative of the government, to form opinions and thrust them on a society.
We therefore condemn most vehemently the attempt to vilify and disgrace Gamini Viyangoda and demand the ITN tender a public apology for the defaming and threatening media use against Gamini Viyangoda, an independent and a reputed writer and columnist in our public sphere.
Singed by Number of indivuduals