FMM protests conspiracy claim
[TamilNet, Monday, 10 January 2000, 13:50 GMT]
The Free Media Movement has deplored the statements in the state owned print and electronic media linking a group of journalists in a conspiracy to assassinate President Chandrika Kumaratunge and establish a military government, as ludicrous.
The FMM in a press release issued today signed by Varuna Karunatilake and Sunanda Deshapriya has said that it is the view of the Free Media Movement that government's interpretation of the assassination attempt being a conspiracy by a section of the media, government officials, businessmen and the military is an attempt to suppress democracy and media freedom in the country.
The press release further states:
"The President in her speech on Rupavahini on January 3rd criticized the private independent media exceeding all norms of accepted practice. It is no surprise that the people attacked by the President in that speech are the same people who are now linked to this conspiracy.
"This is not the first attack on national leaders by the LTTE. A number of political leaders have been assassinated in identical if not similar methods by the LTTE. However on earlier occasions the assassination has not been used as an excuse to attack those who are critical of the government.
"The concocted conspiracy theory is similar to the Naxalite conspiracy concocted by President J.R.Jayawardene in 1982 to harass and detain his political opponents and the media.
"The FMM strongly believes that a group of media persons have been named in this concocted conspiracy because the government knows fully well that it is the media that would be the first obstacle to any government planning to adopt an anti democratic action.
"Naming a group of media persons as working with the LTTE is a very dangerous statement to make in the current environment. It is no secret that a new group which claimed responsibility for the assassination of Mr.Kumar Ponnambalam has stated that it would deal similarly with anyone who directly or indirectly support the LTTE.
"The FMM calls upon all democratic forces in the country to unite in the face of this grave threat to democracy and media freedom."
03.01.00 Kumaratunga critisises media, opposition