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UNP concerned over censure of media protests


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  • Issuing statement, says UNP has always stood for media freedom
  • But as protest by activists was peaceful and within law, believes they must also stand for citizens’ right to protest
  • Commend media organisations that accepted petition and allowed for protest  

 

The United National Party (UNP) yesterday expressed concern over criticism of protests made by a group of civil society activists before media organisations on Thursday, and rejected any involvement in the demonstration.

Releasing a statement, the UNP said that while there was no connection between the protestors and the UNP, especially its leader and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, rejecting the protests as irrelevant was also unjustifiable.

“The UNP stands for media freedom and freedom of expression. It has always been a party that has stood by media organisations when they were threatened and intimidated in various ways. When media institutions were burned, journalists were issued death threats and attacked, the UNP always spoke up on their behalf,” the statement said.

The UNP pointed out that the protests were carried out by a group of civil society activists who had also campaigned during the constitutional deadlock that was triggered on 26 October 2018, and as groups that stood for democracy, they had the right to converge and protest peacefully.

“Not only do we stand for media rights, but we also stand for the rights of Sri Lankan citizens and their right to express opinions. Any member of the public has the right to express their opinions as long as they do so within the law. When the public exercise their rights peacefully within the law, media organisations cannot use their power to disrupt and malign the protestors. This displays the true persona of the ‘black media’.”

The UNP statement also praised media organisations that accepted the petition given by the protestors and allowed the participants to hold their demonstration unhindered. The UNP was critical of media organisations that censured the protestors and publicised their actions in what the statement said was a divisive manner. 

 


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