19 September 2011

An unreserved apology to Sunanda Deshapriya

A few days ago, Keerthi Warnakulasuriya wrote in the Divaina about an exchange between long-time terrorist sympathizer and known NGO racketeer Sunanda Desharpiya and the President of the Maldives in Geneva, subsequent the screening of ‘Lies Agreed Upon,’ a visual rebuttal of Channel 4 charges against the Sri Lankan security forces.  It provoked a comment by me in these columns (‘On freedom of expression a la Sundanda Deshapriya’).

Sunanda has since claimed that Keerthi is lying and that no such exchange took place.  Clearly someone is lying here and it might take a statement by the Maldivian President to clear up the confusion.   Sunanda doesn’t have a stellar track record when it comes to truth-telling (and that’s putting it mildly), but in this instance I choose to give him the benefit of the doubt.  I had fun writing that piece, playing mainly on Sunanda allegedly questioning the Maldivian President’s right to comment on things Sri Lankan.  I will say now, without reservation, that I ought to have cross checked sources before assuming that Keerthi’s story was accurate and then playing with the relevant exchange.
So, let me put it straight.  I am sorry Sunanda.  If I caused any pain of mind with respect to what transpired in Geneva, I apologize.  Please forgive. 
That said, let me add that this apology in no way amounts to a recantation of other assertions, especially not to Sunanda’s history including fund-pilfering and hanky-panky with finances.  Neither does it constitute a withdrawal of charges against the Free Media Movement’s current leadership, their manifest reluctance to investigate wrongdoing and point black refusal to submit to the kind of scrutiny they demand from other people. The FMM remains averse to transparency and accountability and until such time there is a change of heart they will remain foot-shot in the matter of being effective advocates of media rights. 
What I found really interesting was how certain groups have responded to this confusion regarding Keerthi’s ‘story’.  A group calling itself NFR and claiming to be a network of Sri Lankan journalists and human rights defenders living outside the country, has condemned what it calls ‘falsification of the proceedings’ (in Geneva) and claiming that this is part of some conspiracy to ‘intimidate Sri Lankan press freedom and human rights campaigner Sunanda Deshapriya’.  What I found amusing was how this outfit has described Sunanda.  When a terrorist-lover calls himself or is called a ‘human rights campaigner’ neither he nor his describers do themselves any favours.  When a propagandist for terrorists and a man who has no qualms about lying through all orifices is called a ‘campaigner for press freedom’ it is even more laughable. 
The NFR and the website that carried the story, ‘lankanewsweb’ refers to Sunanda as a former convenor of the FMM, but is deafeningly silent on his sorry history in that organization.  That’s not ‘slant’, that’s irresponsibility and amounts to an abdication of right to pose as responsible and self-righteous defenders of media freedom, not to mention use the tag ‘journalist’. 
Sunanda himself, in a blog post recently, has carried a one-to-one ‘report’ by another of these mischievous groups, this one calling itself ‘srilankamirror’, claiming that I was being considered for some job in an ‘NGO’.  Quite apart from the general (and tired) tags referring to ethnic and religious identity, the ladies and gentlemen have demonstrated that a) they are ignorant about me, b) don’t know the fundamental difference between an ‘NGO’ such as the ones I’ve taken issue with over the years (e.g. Centre for Policy Alternatives, Free Media Movement, National Peace Council, Transparency International) and cooperatives, and c) lack the basic intelligence and sense of responsibility to get the names right. 
What was most illuminating in Sunanda’s reproduction was the virtual admission that he’s quite wet behind the ears in the matter of reporting.  So when he is described as ‘Senior Journalist’ or is quote-sought by equally wet behind the ears journalists such as Sara Nic, we can only obtain a sense of the abysmal character of the human resources that those who have an axe to grind with respect to Sri Lanka have to work with. 
If I were to assume that Keerthi was, as Sunanda claims, engaged in fabrication and so too was the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation,  then I have to state also that all the news agencies, media rights advocates and journalists mentioned above are as guilty when it comes to fabrication. 
Never mind.  In this instance, I can still say something to Sunanda Deshapriya.
‘I am sorry.  I don’t expect you to be sorry though for crimes of omission and commission, and certainly not for the rewards collected.  That’s the preserve of those with a conscience.  Have a nice day, Sunanda.’



Jia Roach said...

very good reply,Malinda---
Yes,we have to say-'have a nice day Sunanda'