14 August 2011

On Sara Nics’ simplistic delve into South Asia ‘complexities’

Sara Nics is a new member of the South Asia Wired team. That’s how Radio Netherlands Worldwide profiles her.   The nutshell-version adds that Sara, ‘as a multi-media journalist, Sara has reported from the frosty forests of the Great North Woods, the hallowed halls of Oxford, the sewage strewn footpaths of Kenya's Kibera, the cold waters of the Gulf of Maine, and the green hills of Uganda’.  Sara is supposed to be ‘happy to explore the complexities of South Asia’!
‘What a privileged region we are,’ I muttered to myself.  ‘So undeserving,’ I added. 
I don’t know when Sara Nics began trying to unravel South Asian complexities, but her piece about media freedom in Sri Lanka does indicate that the person-blurb is spot on with respect to at least one element: she is ‘new’. 
Who does this wide-eyed radio journalist pick to interview on the subject of media freedom but the man who has harmed media rights advocacy the most, Sunanda Deshapriya.  His long association with the Free Media Movement (FMM) and happy status as the go-to-guy on all issues pertaining to media rights, gave him profile, yes, but what Nics is clearly clueless about the man.
Deshapriya is a known rogue, who was hoofed out of the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) for pilfering funds (the CPA, itself under a cloud for shady financial operations called it ‘lack of clarity’ but doesn’t have the guts to come out and tell the public what was meant by the term).   I don’t want to repeat what I’ve already said about his shady operations concerning money, especially but not limited to his adventures in the FMM.  He was not fleeing repression or death-threats, he was running away from a possible jail term. Simple.  Clearly this Sara Nics doesn’t believe in homework. 
Deshapriya true to form turns necessity into virtue.  He pumps Nics with a fairytale and she purchases.  That’s what ‘new’ does, I suppose.  He tells Nics, ‘I am apolitical’ and she believes him.  He was never apolitical.  He was always political.  He was politically aligned with the LTTE, ever ready to whitewash its crimes against humanity and to secure any and every kind of positional advantage vis-à-vis the Government of Sri Lanka within his capacity.  He was no journalist; he was and still is a propagandist for terrorists and their lackeys.  The next time Sara Nics meets him, she could ask him who killed his driver and how come this ‘journalist’ got tongue-tied in naming names. 
Deshapriya makes Nics understand that his stories are not really full of flesh and blood because ‘(he is) a marked person’ who doesn’t want to associate with anyone openly and doesn’t want others getting into trouble.  He is marked, yes.  For theft.  He cannot get flesh and blood stories, because he’s always been skeletal and half-baked in his reportage.   He tells Nics that 70 journalists have fled the country.  Now that’s rubbish.  From where did he get this number?  If they’ve fled, they can stand up and say ‘yes, I fled for such and such a reason,’ can’t they?  There are no names mentioned because there aren’t that many. Lying only makes it difficult for any person who may have a legitimate reason to fear for his or her life to sound believable.   
Deshapriya tosses the number 34 at Nics and she catches neatly. That’s ‘the number of journalists killed in Sri Lanka’.  Why can’t Deshapriya name them? After all, they won’t be ‘harmed’ would them?  
Nics quotes someone called Fred Carver, ‘Campaign Director’ of some dubious outfit called ‘Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice’.  This Carver person says that many Sri Lankan journalists self-censor.  Correct.  So does the BBC, didn’t he know?  And Channel 4.  It’s called ‘manufacturing’. 
There’s no such thing, Sara, called absolute media freedom.  We don’t live in Media Paradise, not here and not in England or Switzerland.  There’s always work to be done and those who have integrity and commitment keep working.  The work is only made harder when jackasses spout palpable rubbish and the naïve lap it all up. 

Carver wants there to be avenues for Sri Lankan journalists to apply for asylum.  That’s good.  There will be all kinds of people claiming to be journalists and claiming persecution.  If the relevant authorities in asylum-giving countries are anything like Sara Nics, they’ll get a free ticked to what they believe are greener pastures.  It is not a nice thing to prey on naiveté of course, but Sara Nics and her ilk are hardly babes in the woods. If they want to play sucker, so be it. 

I want Sara Nics to become ‘old’ but history shows that Deshapriya is an ace at squeezing wide-eyed journalistic oranges from the West to their last naïve drop. 

Sara Nics wants to explore the complexities of South Asia.  South Asia will not have any trouble in exploring her. She’s not complex at all.  She’s quite simple, really. 



Rebel of Kandy said...

What a good article indeed! Sunanda Deshapriya is a rogue to the bone. The fact that he is out of the country not because he is the target of the government but he plundered money is not known among many people. I haven't seen any article exposing this except by you and professor Rajeeva.If he is the target of the government how on earth his brother becomes the Commissioner of Elections in Sri Lanka?

What this rouge had told to this Sara Nics who is "trying to unravel South Asian complexities" is a good chance to yet another a bunch of would be asylum seekers.