“Don’t incite hate” | Sunday Observer

“Don’t incite hate”

The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka has called on all media organisations to act with responsibility and ensure they do not incite communal violence in the wake of devastating attacks on Muslim homes and businesses across the North Western Province and Minuwangoda which claimed at least one life.

In a letter addressed to media heads, the HRCSL urged the ‘fourth estate’ to act responsibly.

Media personnel have been specifically requested to ensure not to publish news items that generate hate between communities and to refrain from telecasting gossip. HRCSL has also asked the media to ensure the privacy of individuals in reporting about search operations, so that it will not cause inconvenience to family members of persons arrested, and to refrain from using frames that can worsen difficult circumstances. Comments by victims should only be used with permission, the guidelines said. The media has also been urged to refrain from reporting news that escalates violence or intolerance against refugees.

In the wake of communal violence following Easter Sunday attacks, media’s role and ethics in reporting has come into question with several concerns being raised whether action should be taken against such media outlets that act unprofessionally by inciting communal violence.

The Finance Ministry last week decided to stop granting advertising contracts to private broadcasters after their role in inciting communal violence following the Easter terror attacks.

According to Minister of Finance, Mangala Samaraweera the decision has been reached upon on the understanding that “Any media institutions trying to make a business out of racism and human blood will be strongly opposed.”

Speaking of the recent media attention given to island wide security searches Army Commander, Lt. General Mahesh Senanayake said that it was on his request that guidelines were issued pertaining to telecasting the search raids and that it should not be interpreted as media censorship.

“Media channel telecasted news of a bullet used in a 12 bore shotgun being found discarded on a roadside. Three uniformed officers displayed this bullet in news that lasted several minutes as if they had discovered 10 rocket propelled grenades. Bullets like these can be found commonly in forested areas in Dehiaththakandiya. There is nothing to be alarmed by this,” he said addressing a media gathering. Speaking further he said that search operations carried out were majority in Muslim areas where these weapons are being found, “but we clearly know that if we carry out operations in Sinhala or Tamil areas we may even find more weapons than that are being discovered now,” he said.

Following the alleged misinterpretation of Sri Lanka Muslim Council’s President N.M. Ameen’s statement at a press briefing, a second-year law student at Sri Lanka Law College, M.F.M. Fuzly has posted a complaint against a leading broadcasting agency at Telecommunications Regulation Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) yesterday, the Sunday Observer learns.

The complaint made under the provision of Article 9(1) of Sri Lanka Telecommunication Act no 25 of 1991, states that the news bulletin has distorted a statement delivered by N.M. Ameen.

Ameen at a press briefing organized by Muslim civil organisations, on May 9 commented about the swords found in various places in the country including some found at Muslim religious places. However, some electronic media had telecast the press briefing in a way which distorts the entire idea of Ameen’s speech.