Former Minister and leader of the All Ceylon Makkal Congress Rishad Bathiudeen’s sister-in-law Mohamed Nisar Fathima Israth has complained to the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka over “malicious” article published in mainstream newspapers on her husband Riyaj Bathiudeen. In her complain she says that ” the ‘Aruna’ and ‘Lankadeepa’ newspapers had published a malicious article aiming to tarnish the good repute of my husband, Riyaj Bathiudeen, by associating him with the Easter attacks last year. The article is malignant and inflammatory and was likely to have been written with ill-will which is evident from the manner in which it was published without verity or clarity as to its facts. In particular, I wish to highlight that the purported association between the mastermind of the Easter Attacks, Zahran Hashim and my husband are completely false, unsubstantiated and spiteful.”
The letter follows:
No.111, 10th Lane,
Dr. Deepika Udagama
Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission
No. 15, R. A. De Mel Mawatha
Dear Chairperson and Commissioners,
Today, the ‘Aruna’ and ‘Lankadeepa’ newspapers had published a malicious article aiming to tarnish the good repute of my husband, Riyaj Bathiudeen, by associating him with the Easter attacks last year.
The article is malignant and inflammatory and was likely to have been written with ill-will which is evident from the manner in which it was published without verity or clarity as to its facts. In particular, I wish to highlight that the purported association between the mastermind of the Easter Attacks, Zahran Hashim and my husband are completely false, unsubstantiated and spiteful.
There is no record of any member of the Police force or TID issuing any statement to the effect of validating any connection between Zahran Hashim and my husband, Riyaj Bathiudeen. The arrest was made on the grounds of a phone conversation between him and Inshaf Ibrahim. Although Inshaf Ibrahim was identified as a suicide bomber, he was also a businessman. He was the son of a wealthy and prominent Businessman, Mohamed Ibrahim, and he was married to the daughter of another prominent businessman who was a native of my husband’s hometown, Mannar.
My husband, who is now in remand, is also a businessman and a tax payer who has never defaulted in his tax payments. In Sri Lanka, any person has the right to engage in business legally and my husband has always engaged in lawful business and was unsuspicious of the activities of Inshaf. In the aftermath of the Easter attacks, the media had made it clear that even the wife and father of Inshaf Ibrahim knew nothing of his plans of engaging in terrorist activity.
The Sunday newspapers had quoted in their articles that Riyaj Bathiudeen was arrested by the security forces of the Northern Province in respect of the Easter Sunday attacks and was thereafter freed. This is a blatant lie and a distortion of facts, as my husband who is currently in remand, was never arrested nor interrogated prior to his present predicament in respect of this case. I am of the opinion, that such a manipulation of facts is aimed at tainting and tarnishing the image of former Minister, Rishad Bathiudeen, who happens to be the brother of my husband. This is irresponsible reporting, pushed by malice and sinister motive to mislead the readers by fanning the flames of hatred.
This media campaign is evidently directed at former Minister Rishad Bathiudeen with intent to frame him for the Easter Sunday attacks. Soon after the Easter attacks, it was increasingly apparent that Mr, Bathiudeen was being targeted and framed by certain political entities and media institutions. They distorted facts and purposefully enticed the general public into acting shamefully in order to achieve their political ambitions.
As a prominent businessman, it was normal for my husband to have business related conversations with individuals, and the investigating officers have every right to verify the contents of the call. There is no doubt in that. However, the media is duty bound to act with conscience and be careful not to disseminate misleading information, particularly if they are to incriminate an individual even prior to any verdict by a Court of Law. Such media dispensed verdicts are a disgrace to the judiciary. Such misrepresentations and unfounded conclusions are also contrary to media ethics and practices.
It must be noted that seven (07) persons had been arrested on the same day along with my husband in respect of the investigations, however, only the name of my husband was emphasized. The reason for this is without doubt the fact that his brother is a renowned political name and a former Minister of the Cabinet. Whilst certain segments of the media have carried out misinformation campaigns, it must be understood that it could also lead to several misinterpretations even before the investigation has concluded. Such insidious and corruptive journalists ought to be questioned and brought to book. It has caused tremendous pain of mind to my 10 year old son and myself. It is a violation of my fundamental rights and the rights of my family.
Mohamed Nisar Fathima Israth