28 February 2013

Faraz Shauketaly’s ‘revelations’

Faraz Shauketaly suffered gunshot injuries and was rushed to hospital a little over a week ago.  Faraz, who holds dual citizenship, in Sri Lanka and Britain, is a freelance journalist.  He is also a businessman who runs a hotel in Mount Lavinia.  The way the incident was ‘picked up’ by the media and others, including those who talk of human rights and media freedom speaks volumes of related politics.  Faraz was shot at by unidentified gunmen. 

‘The Daily Mail’ privileged Faraz’ ‘British citizenship’ in the story on the incident.  Navi Pillay of the UNHRC picked up on the ‘journalist’ element of his identity.  Sri Lanka bashers salivated about media freedom.  The local media duly condemned, again because this was a member of the tribe.
Everyone jumped the gun, so to speak.  Fingers were pointed at the President and the Government.  Faraz, now on his way to recovery, has thanked the President for all the support extended immediately upon hearing of the attack. 

Those with egg on the face may very well say ‘His statement was made under duress’.   This would of course amount to someone saying ‘I know better than Faraz what goes on in Faraz’ head’. 
The point is that people wear many hats and until investigations are concluded we cannot determine the name of the hat that warranted the aim-and-shoot.   Should the media be ‘perturbed’ only when a fellow media person is attacked, treating other attacks as per the newsworthiness (for the most part)?  Is Faraz Shauketaly the businessman made of heart, blood, vein, bone, sinew etc., that are different from what makes Faraz Shauketaly the freelance journalist? 

Not too long ago, Colombo Telegraph revealed that the late Lasantha Wickramatunga, then Editor of the Sunday Leader had a professional life outside that of being a professional journalist.  Colombo Telegraph hinted that Lasantha was killed on account of those ‘professional’ activities.  Lasantha, however, received many accolades posthumously for ‘journalistic courage’ and for ‘laying down his life in the course of being a journalist’.
There are certain conclusions we can draw.

First of all, there is an unholy and scandalous readiness to interpret events in Sri Lanka in a particular matter.  Trigger-happy is a term we can use.   It points to a penchant for sentencing without trial.  There is a strange readiness to up the ‘media’ strain of a person’s identity, if that is possible.  Makes better ‘news’, one supposes.  It sounds better when you say ‘a journalist was killed’ as opposed to ‘a spy was killed’, especially if you want to point the finger at a regime you want overthrown.
More importantly, there is another element to the context that makes for such outrageous and irresponsible claims, i.e. quite apart from political hate: the fact that attacks on journalists (especially those whose ‘journalistic hat’ is more of an identity marker than anything else) have not been investigated to conclusion.  

Lasantha, for example, did not die in a shoot-out. He was murdered.  The reason for murder is irrelevant except of course to the extent that ‘motive’ helps identify murderer(s).  What is pertinent is that it is the duty of the state to ensure that all citizens are protected.  Whether or not Lasantha was involved in something shady is also irrelevant.  If he violated the law, then the law enforcement agencies should have arrested him.  There is a thing called ‘due process’.
The case remains ‘open’. That’s an indictment on the Police and other investigating agencies.  It is this ‘openness’ with respect to attacks on citizens and especially media personnel that makes people pick up ‘journalist’ over ‘businessman’ as in the case of Faraz Shauketaly.    It doesn’t of course make such privileging valid or defensible, but when we are talking politics of convenience and selectivity as such we see every year when the UN’s human rights outfit has its meetings, it is prudent not to make things easier for the spoiler. 

The attack on Faraz Shauketaly, then, once again shows up a lot of people.  It is also another wake-up call to the Government with respect to investigations into attacks on journalists.  It just cannot afford to give more ammunition to its detractors.  Faraz has undressed many people, unintentionally, perhaps more than he ever has with his journalism.


මයියා ( Mayya) said...

this is a country where people get tangled them self to trees, Majors were beaten by themselves and etc. so there is no any surprises should we heard that Faraz telling that he shoot himself...isn't it?

Shaik Ahamath said...

Coincidentally just a week before the shooting, Faraz Shauketally was highly critical of the lifestyles enjoyed by the Jayawardene's of Golden Key fame. The alleged embezzlement of the Rs.26 Billion fortune is capable of buying a lot of shooters but I might add that that probably was not the case.