Sri Lanka’s military establishment and EPDP paramilitary opt for new ways in recent times to suppress media critical of the SL defence ministry and its paramilitary operatives. Sri Lanka’s military commander Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya has reportedly filed a defamation case against Jaffna-based Uthayan daily and SL minister Douglas Devananda, who is also the leader of EPDP paramilitary, has filed a similar case in the courts in Jaffna demanding a huge sum of compensation against a WikiLeaks-based story filed by the paper, media sources in Jaffna told TamilNet. Sri Lankan Defence Ministry, led by SL presidential sibling Gotabhaya Rajapaksa has found ‘legal operations’ more effective than ‘white van operations’ in silencing critical media, journalists in Colombo said adding that the role of ‘registered’ media in the island has now come to almost an effective end.
An informed legal source in Jaffna said that the EPDP leader was seeking 10 billion rupees in compensation from the paper for a report it had filed based on WikiLeaks. According to EPDP’s lawyer, WikiLeaks is not a legally valid source to be cited by Uthayan paper.
The administration of Uthayan paper is yet to receive details on the nature of the case filed by the SL military. So far, there has only been reports in SL military run news outlets that the SL military commander and Defence Secretary have filed defamation case against the paper at Jaffna High Court regarding two news items.
In July, there was a ‘leaked’ gossip-based reporting in web-media that SL Army Commander had complained to former SLA commander General Rohan Daluwatte that he could issue orders only to the Seva Vanitha Unit (women’s organization), led by his wife, and the Civil Administration Unit. All his subordinate commanders say that they receive orders directly from Mr Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, he allegedly told Daluwatte. Uthayan paper filed the story days after several websites had run the story. Later, a team of CID officers from Colombo visited the paper office grilling the editors of the paper.
Now, the SLA commander, under the instruction of Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, has allegedly filed a case against the paper.
The SL military commanders in North and East have been chasing the media for their reports on war crimes.
A senior journalist working for a Tamil paper said that he had recently been questioned by a team of military officials coming to the office of the paper investigating about the source of a war-crime related photo the paper had used. The journalist had pointed at a reliable international website that had published the photo.
The SL military has also fielded intelligence operatives as covert journalists monitoring the activities of journalists.
Recently, the SL military was behind launching a newspaper in Jaffna.