The International Community and their Agenda on Sri
Lanka - Part III:
Impact of media on masses
This is the third part of the serialized
excerpts from a forthcoming publication titled ‘Sri Lanka - the War
fuelled by International Peace’ by Palitha Senanayake. These extracts
from Chapter 16 of the book are published with the kind permission of
The second part was published yesterday
The net effect of this one-sided barrage of propaganda on the part of
the Western INGOs will only serve to weaken the GOSL arm of the conflict
with concomitant rejuvenation of the non state party, thereby prolonging
the conflict. Therefore the Sri Lankan Government, instead of being
apologetic, should make a concerted effort to highlight these laws that
are applicable to Sri Lanka in this unique situation rather than
allowing the international diplomats, the Tamil Diaspora and the INGOs
to indulge in indiscriminate criticism of alleged ‘human rights
Had the proposal by Louse Arbour in 2008 to establish a UN mission to
monitor human rights been acceded to, it would have been a case of Sri
Lanka inviting the UNO to interfere in its internal affairs violating,
Additional protocol 11 of 1977 under Article 3 of the UN Charter.
Print media play an important role in communication. ANCL
The LTTE started its criminal activities in 1975 and its terror in
1982. We have quoted in this book a few letters by Tamil expatriates who
have evoked nostalgic memories of the peaceful Jaffna and the Northern
Province in the ’70s.
It is only after 1982 that all these questionable acts on alleged
violations by the Government Forces have taken place. Similarly there
were certain genuine human right violations during the JVP insurrection
in other parts of the country in 1989 which prompted the incumbent
President to report the then Sri Lankan Government to the UN. But with
the overcoming of the JVP threat and with return to normalcy, the human
rights situation too has become normal and acceptable.
This is proof that it is when non state actors perpetrate violence,
allegedly for ‘political causes’, that the human rights situation
reaches somewhat questionable levels. Then if an organization is
genuinely interested in the violation of human rights in a country it
will be the responsibility of such organizations to ensure that the
Government of that country remains stable because it is only in such a
situation that they could reasonably operate and account for the
If they cannot contribute in any way to ensure the stability, then
they will do well not to contribute in anyway towards the prevailing
instability, for human rights violators can thrive under such
instability. This is tantamount to blaming a sick man for his own
physical malfunctions, causing the man to become more sick and
eventually reach a stage beyond cure.
These irregularities have been perpetrated on little Sri Lanka by the
NGOs with such unobtrusiveness and for so long that it is now becoming
clear that these are not the results of accidents or misunderstanding
but of policy decision to destabilize small countries. It would be too
lame to think that the Western nations are advanced in every aspect of
their affairs except in understanding world problems.
Freedom of expression
The role played by national news reporting and journalism cannot be
over emphasized in offering a sense of direction and a regulatory
impetus to a democratic nation in that, it is often believed that the
media is the ‘forth estate’ of the nations governance.
The three preceding being, the Legislator, the Executive and the
Judiciary. Placed in such an august position, it would be the bounden
duty of those who man the media institutions to conduct the affairs of
their institutions in a manner that is worthy of such positioning. The
situation in Sri Lanka in this respect for the past 30 years however,
leaves much to be desired and this is specially so with regard to the
English speaking media institutions heralded by the popular English
newspapers, that have been very much a part and parcel of the English
speaking fraternity of the country.
It was Gandhi who said that “English is the window to the world, but
we should not let the wind that comes from that window to blow us off
our feet”. This could be equally true of the media in general, in the
context of a developing nations that are trying to stand on their own
feet after years of exploitation and plunder.
The current situation in Sri Lanka is a far cry from this philosophy
and it is no exaggeration to say that in the Sri Lankan context, we have
opened not only the window but also the doors and whatever else, only to
be swept off our feet, lock stock and barrel by the media.
This again is the fault of Sri Lanka not having a national policy on
media. Two classic examples in this regard are the country’s protracted
problem with the LTTE and the country’s economic development. For years
since independence, the perception on both these issues, at the highest
level in the country, has been that the country needs the Western
guidance to solve the ‘ethnic crisis’ and it needs more ‘foreign aid and
loans’ to sustain the economy. The truth is that the ‘Ethnic crisis’ is
misconceived notion for what really is terrorism and dependence on
foreign aid is a compromise on a nation’s sovereignty.
The net result would be to succumb to economic subjugation to Western
economic imperialism which the Western nations so subtly pursue from the
time their past tactics of colonial subjugation became outdated. There
are ‘interest groups’ within Sri Lanka, who sagaciously or otherwise
look forward to profit from this impending destabilization of the
country and they are more powerful than they appear to be and their
methods are so subtle and insidious.
They have realized the importance of media in achieving their ends
and to that effect they have infiltrated the media to ensure its
obedience and loyalty to them. Such ‘interest groups’ not only have
invaded the media institutions of the country to ‘pull wool’ over the
nations eyes, and they even know the price of our ‘so called’ leaders of
the traditional political parties. Such interest groups only have to cry
horse about lack of press freedom so that the Western INGOs will come
running to their assistance to publicize strictures against the
A primary allegation the privately owned media in Sri Lanka makes
against the Government is that, there is Government owned media in Sri
Lanka and hence the media is controlled by the Government.
Nowhere in the world is the media ideally free. In the West the media
is in the hands of a few rich individuals or companies. The United
Kingdom boast of a free press! But news papers like the Independent,
Times, The Mirror, Guadian, Star, BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and 5 and other
print and electronic media giants are either companies or privately
owned and hence the ordinary people have absolutely no say in those. The
Government has direct as well as indirect control over the press
anywhere. In other countries other than the West, the media is either
State owned or State controlled.
Mass media is what reaches the masses. Considering the advancement in
technology over the years and the sophistication achieved as a means of
influence over the masses, role of media should never be underestimated
but realistically evaluated.
In this world of today where propaganda and hype has achieved such
heights to the point of enveloping the bare facts of any given situation
media is bound to be crucial to the well-being of any society.
While baring the facts with sensible commentaries can be a source of
enlightenment to the masses, the propaganda hype that caters to baser
instincts in a society could damage mass interest, as opium would, even
voluntarily, to a society.
In the larger picture when you consider the entirety of the Sri
Lankan media it is only about 30 percent of the media that is government
owned and the balance is privately owned. The private media tries to
imbue in to public that when a media institute is privately owned it
speaks the truth. This in fact is far from reality because every private
media institution in Sri Lanka has their own political and cultural
agenda and there are interest groups behind these institutions. They are
comprised human beings and are therefore susceptible to human failings,
vested interests and personal agendas. In a democracy however, it is
only the Government that could claim to have a moral right to propagate
its agenda because it is only the Government that has got a mandate from
the people. But the private media, ironically in an attempt to promote
its own agenda criticize the Government owned media in the guise of
‘freedom of expression’. Then is free media the ‘freedom of the wild
It is not possible to suppress the media because it is so powerful
and has no defined or demarcated limits. Even under dictatorship media
will play its role quite effectively.
Even if you ban all media institutions the media can still function
even in the form of ‘Grape vine’ and that could be more inimical and
dangerous than the organized and responsible media institutions.
Next: Part IV