Lankan minister calls scribes 'mad dogs'
The Lankan health minister says journalists need to be given anti-rabies shot, reports PK Balachandran.Updated: Apr 12, 2007, 16:38 IST
Journalists' associations have condemned the Sri Lankan Minister for Health, Nimal Sripala de Silva, for describing journalists as mad dogs and recommending that they be given an anti-rabies injection.
The Free Media Movement, Sri Lanka Working Journalists' Association, Media Employees' Trade Union Federation, Sri Lanka Muslim Media Forum and Sri Lanka Tamil Journalists' Association said in a joint statement on Wednesday, that the minister had branded journalists as "rabid dogs" because they had been exposing corruption in the state health sector.
Reacting to the minister's subsequent offer of special cards to enable journalists to get preferential treatment in government hospitals, the scribes said that such an offer was tantamount to offering them a bribe and rejected it.
The minister's angry outburst against scribes came at a public meeting on April 6, The Island daily said on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) came out with a stinging indictment of the Sri Lankan government for curbing media freedom by arrests, freezing of accounts of publications and turning a blind eye to pro-government Tamil militant groups putting a ban on papers which were critical of them.
The LTTE was also slammed for not allowing a free press in territories under its control.
India asked to stop "Sinhalisation" of East
MPs of the pro-LTTE Tamil National Alliance (TNA) met the Indian High Commissioner Alok Prasad here on Wednesday, to ask India to intervene and stop the rapid "Sinhalisation" of the Eastern Tamil-speaking districts of Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Amparai.
The Eastern districts, the MPs pointed out, were 75 per cent Tamil speaking but the administration had gone out of their hands.
Top posts were held by Sinhalas and all the major decisions were taken in Colombo, they said.
Suresh Premachandran MP told Hindustan Times that the Governor of the Eastern Province was a Sinhala and a military man to boot.
The Government Agents in the districts also are Sinhala.
Under such administrators, aid for the East coming from the World Bank, ADB and other world organisations were being diverted to the Sinhala majority areas in these districts, he charged.
Many places recently taken over from the LTTE were being declared as High Security Zones and Tamils were being prevented from re-settling there, he said.
"If such actions continue, the chances of peace talks resuming are remote," Premachandran warned.
The TNA MPs also complained that the Sri Lankan government was doing precious little for the 160, 000 refugees in Batticaloa whose tents were unable to stand the current rains.
Food was in short supply. The refugees were almost totally dependent on the World Food Programme and other non government agencies. But these organisations were also running out of supply
The MPs requested India to send food urgently.