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29th August 1999

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Local, world journalists condemn attack on Uthayan

The Editors' Guild of Sri Lanka and the New York based Committee to Protect Journalists have condemned the August 21 attack on the Uthayan newspaper office in Jaffna, and asked the government to provide security for the Uthayan and other journalists working in the country's more volatile regions.

Asking that the Uthayan be allowed to perform its legitimate duties in maintaining and fostering democracy in Sri Lanka, the Editors' Guild statement said:

"The Editors Guild condemns the heinous grenade attack at about 8.30 pm last Saturday (August 21) on the office of the Uthayan newspaper in Jaffna .

"We have been informed that two grenades exploded in close proximity to the printing machines, injuring a security guard who is now warded at the Jaffna hospital.

"The Uthayan which commenced publication in 1985 has been the lone voice of the people of Jaffna since 1996. They have maintained a neutral stance in their reporting within the context of a complicated political-military scenario all these years.

"In recognition of their contribution to media freedom, the Editors' Guild last year bestowed them with the Sepala Gunasena Award for courageous journalism.

"The Editor of the Uthayan has reiterated that his newspaper stands for democracy, and that they have been attacked for unbiased reportage.

"The Guild requests the relevant Government authorities in Jaffna to quickly apprehend those responsible for this attack, and also to provide adequate security to the Uthayan enabling it to perform its legitimate duties in maintaining and fostering democracy in Sri Lanka."

Meanwhile the United States based Committee to Protect Journalists in a statement said they were deeply disturbed over the attack on Uthayan. The statement also said:

"As a nonpartisan organization of journalists dedicated to the defence of our colleagues around the world, CPJ joins the Free Media Movement in condemning this incident.

"We believe the attack on Uthayan represents a serious threat to press freedom in Sri Lanka. It is crucial that the government guarantee the safety of journalists working in the country's more volatile regions, given that tight military restrictions on media access to conflict areas have already severely hampered the ability of journalists to report on Sri Lanka's 16-year-old civil war. "CPJ respectfully urges the President to order a prompt, impartial, and thorough investigation into the attack against Uthayan, and asks that the results of this inquiry be made public."

Around 8.30 pm on August 21, unidentified assailants threw two hand grenades at Uthayan's office building. The grenades exploded outside the building. About 70 people were working inside at the time of the attack, according to Uthayan chief editor M.V. Kanamailnathan. A security guard was injured in the blast.

As a Tamil paper published in an area now controlled by the Sri Lanka military, Uthayan operates in an extremely volatile environment. A Uthayan journalist told German news agency DPA: "It is a matter of anybody who does not like what we are writing attacking us with bombs, grenades, or shooting us. Therefore we have to be very careful about what we publish".

Reflections - By Ven. Soma

You love your life, so do others

Continued from last week

The five precepts are an essential component of the layman's religious conduct as shown in the Sigalovada Sutta. 14 basic factors which contribute towards making life satisfactory in this world and the next are identified in this Sutta.

First, the four 'karma klesha' unwholesome acts with 'chethana' intention, next the four 'agathi' paths which lead astray, and then the six doors which lead to destruction of wealth. These 14 factors can be classified under the five precepts.

One can define 'karma klesha' in the following way. Karma includes 'chethana' or intention, 'klesha' is bad deeds founded on unwholesome craving. These lead to the development of desire, hatred and ignorance.

Killing is an action rooted in hatred and craving also joins it. If one acts with both greed and hatred, there will necessarily be ignorance, leading to the development of craving.

Ignorance is the inability to comprehend the impermanence of objects, that beings are born, live and die, that one will feel grief at the loss of things precious to one, and not knowing that this order of things is one over which a human being has no control. Thus a Buddhist who keeps in mind the philosophy of 'anicca' impermanence, 'dukkha' sorrow, and 'anathma' absence of soul (that there is nothing called me and mine), and acts accordingly, will be on the Noble Eight Fold Path based on 'Samma Ditti' Right Perception.

If one claims to be a Buddhist, it is essential that one follows the Noble Eight Fold Path. He who does not, even though he labels himself a Buddhist, is not a Buddhist. It is only Buddhism which teaches the philosophy of anicca, dukkha, anathma - impermanence, sorrow and absence of soul. All meritorious deeds (kusal) are founded on right perception, based on this philosophy.

Since without Right Perception there can be no meritorious deeds, a non Buddhist cannot collect good karma leading to Nirvana. However, non Buddhists can do good deeds. In Buddhism meritorious deeds are divided into three sections as 'dana' (giving of alms), 'sila' (self discipline), and bhavana (meditation). If a Buddhist practices these three fold meritorious acts, since they are based on Right Perception, these good deeds will be transformed into meritorious acts.

One can, out of sympathy and compassion, give alms, practice self control, and meditate. However, due to his belief in permanent blissful existence since he does not adhere to the Noble Eight Fold Path, they do not become meritorious deeds.

However, irrespective of religious and racial differences, the giving of alms, self discipline, and meditation will bring good results. Yet they will not erase craving nor find release from the sorrow of Sansara, existence. These facts were expounded here at the outset to show how the five principles help everybody equally to gain comfort in their worldly lives.

Although we explain the first precept as "I will refrain from killing", the meaning of this pali phrase is much deeper. It means "I will train myself to desist from destroying living beings."

The Buddha preached that a person who aspires to this should throw away all implements used to kill, be ashamed to use such things, and live in a kind and considerate way.

Why should one be kind and considerate to all animals ? 'sabbe san jeevithan priyan' Because all beings love their life, as much as you love yours. Therefore take yourself as an example. Then you will understand. Would you like to be subjected to mental or physical pain by others ?

Even without religion, any intelligent man can understand, that none not even animals like to be harmed. If any religion encourages the inflicting of pain on animals, isn't this an insult to people's intelligence ? Although certain people sacrifice animals in the names of gods, this is an insult to the Teachers of this religion. Considering that man is pre-eminent and supreme one should not underestimate the value of the lives of animals. That will result in one's mind becoming debased.

If for whatever purpose an individual kills an animal, whether it is for the sake of the religion or as food, one cannot end another being's life in a serene state of mind. It is only with intention that one can kill. An animal's death without one's knowledge is not relevant here. That is why "with intention" is stressed. When killing with a brutal mind one cannot avoid the impact of chemical process of one's body. At the very moment evil thoughts are being formed the hormones which are secreted have an effect on the blood which is transmitted to the cells of the brain, disturbing the normal equilibrium of the mind.

When killing an animal, it is due to this process that one engages purposefully until the act of killing is completed. Irrespective of religion, what person has the power to change this process ? What religion ? The God of Christianity cannot alter this. The God of Islam cannot alter this. The Gods in Hinduism cannot alter this. The Buddha cannot alter this.

Since evil consequences of killing begin to affect one at the very moment that one engages in it, it is wise to leave the laws of religion aside and protect oneself.

Guest Column - By Victor Ivon

A government, an actor and an audio cassette

The PA government is pushing itself towards political extinction for the sake of a film actor called Sanath Gunatilleke. The disrepute caused by the Channel 9 scandal to the PA government and to the President who leads the government is great. The story of that scandal shows the extent of the role played by the likes of Sanath Gunatilleke who gate-crashed into the PA at the last moment.

The saga of Channel 9 has embarrassed a majority of the Cabinet ministers of the PA government. Although Sanath Gunatilleke is a powerful person in the kitchen cabinet the fact that many cabinet ministers reportedly dislike him has aggravated the crisis.

The President was reportedly able only to get Mangala Samaraweera to defend Mr. Gunatilleke. What Mr. Samaraweera did only helped to aggravate the situation further. The other cabinet ministers' reported dislike of Mr. Samaraweera did not help the cause.

Without subjecting the audio tape on which the Channel 9 scandal is based, to any test the government declared it was a joke. When TNL TV broadcast the audio tape, the allegation that it was a joke was disproved, and the government indirectly says now, even if the tape is genuine, there is nothing serious in it.

It was Lakshman Hulugalle who found a foreign investor for the Channel 9 TV project. For getting the necessary licence for the foreign investor, Mr. Hulugalle reportedly expected to get a million Australian Dollars (Rs. 40 million). The investor agreed to pay the price if the licence was secured. Because the licence had to be obtained from President Kumaratunga, Mr. Hulugalle reportedly entrusted Mr. Gunatilleke with the job, on the basis that the amount would be equally divided between the two.

The contents of the audio tape points to the fact that after getting to know the foreign investor through Mr. Hulugalle, Mr. Gunatilleke reportedly tried to leave him out of the project and double his own share.

Among Mr.Gunatilleke's friends Gamini Rajanayake was looked upon as a banker with whom he kept money for safe keeping. He was Mr. Gunatillake's most trusted colleague. The alleged plan that Mr. Gunatilleke implemented appears to have been to get a licence in the name of Mr. Rajanayake, instead of issuing the licence in the foreign investor's name, set up a joint venture between the foreign investor and Mr. Rajanayake in such a way that Mr. Rajanayake would own 15% of the shares of the project. Mr. Gunatilleke reportedly carried out this plan saying it was Madam's (the President's) wish.

This project has BOI privileges. According to the agreement signed with the Board of Investment the minimum investment required for that project was Rs. 500 million. The value of the share entitlement of 15% reportedly obtained by Mr. Gunatilleke in Mr. Rajanayake's name was Rs. 75 million. Mr. Gunatillake appears not only to have got the earlier agreed tribute of Rs. 40 million increased to Rs. 75 million, but also prevented half of it going to Mr. Hulugalle thus getting the entire sum into his hands.This was why Mr. Hulugalle reportedly fell out with Mr. Gunatilleke who had been one of his good friends. Mr. Hulugalle then summons a discussion to get his position in the business clarified and tapes the discussion for his future safety. That is how the audio tape which has now created a hullabaloo in the country came into existence.

Although Mr. Hulugalle appears to have been displeased with Mr. Gunatilleke for depriving him of the benefits from the project he does not distance himself from his good friend. Mr. Hulugalle appears to have thought that although Mr. Gunatilleke had played him out, it would be essential to have Mr. Gunatilleke with him if he wanted to make money through this kind of business. It is after this incident that Mr. Hulugalle reportedly got a tribute of 50,000 pounds to get the necessary approval for a bus project for Ravi Wettasinghe.

When Mr.Wettasinghe wanted to get the government's approval for his bus project Mr. Hulugalle probably would have promised Mr. Wettasinghe to get the job done through Mr.Gunatillake. It is reported that Mr. Wettasinghe apparently gave Mr. Hulugalle 50,000 pounds too for the purpose. It is possible that Mr.Hulugalle would have indicated to Mr. Wettasinghe that the sum or a part of it would be given to Mr. Gunatillake. It is also possible that in a situation where he felt he had been unfairly left out of the Channel 9 project, Mr. Hulugalle would have thought it was unnecessary to give this sum to Mr. Gunatilleke and would have kept the entire sum obtained from Mr.Wettasinghe.

Mr. Wettasinghe, who had been troubled by the fact that the government approval had not been received by the promised date reportedly asked Mr. Gunatilleke whether he had received 50,000 pounds sent by him. Mr. Gunatilleke on hearing this probably would have been annoyed that Mr. Hulugalle had obtained 50,000 pounds from Mr.Wettasinghe using his (Sanath's) name. Mr. Gunatilleke would have been further annoyed because he had not got half the sum as reportedly happens usually. It was at that time that newspapers carried a story that Mr. Hulugalle had given Mr. Gunatilleke a part of the sum of 50,000 pounds obtained from Mr.Wettasinghe. This would have caused more animosity between Mr. Gunatilleke and Mr. Hulugalle.

Mr.Gunatillake then reportedly got Mr.Wettasinghe to agree to make a complaint to the CID against Mr. Hulugalle to the effect that he had misappropriated 50,000 pounds given to the party fund. Mr. Wettasinghe probably saw this as an opportunity to have a direct relationship, rather than having an indirect one through Mr. Hulugalle to obtain approval for his bus project. On Mr. Wettasinghe's complaint the CID started a police inquiry against Mr. Hulugalle. Unfortunately Mr. Gunatilleke did not know at the time that Mr. Hulugalle had an audio tape that would be used against him.

The ultimate result was that Mr. Hulugalle gave the media the audio tape which he had been keeping safely with him. That audio tape has now turned out to be one that shakes the existence of not only Mr. Gunatilleke but also that of the entire government.

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