Jan 11, Colombo: United National Party, the ruling party of Sri Lanka government today said the media freedom and freedom of expression are paramount to a democratic society and the intimidation of media will never be tolerated.
Issuing a statement following allegations that protests staged by several groups of people in front of a number of media institutions are backed by the party, the UNP said the party has no connection whatsoever with the protests and the party will always support media freedom as well as the freedom of expression and the freedom to peacefully protest.
The UNP said its attention has been drawn to the protests staged by a number of social action groups in front of media institutions yesterday and handing over petitions to them, and especially to some media reports which said that the protests were by an NGO backed by the UNP leader and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
The party said from what they have learned, the protests were organized by a number of civil society action groups who fought for safeguarding the democracy and people's sovereignty from October 26.
"The UNP is a party that respects and defends media freedom always. We don't need to remind that the party stood for media freedom when the media institutions came under bomb attacks and violence and at times journalists were attacked and threatened," the statement said.
"We will stand to protect media freedom as well as the public's right to express their ideas. Under the country's law, every citizen of the country has the right to peacefully protest. Media institutions that use their media power to attack and chase away peaceful, civilized protests display nothing more than their real face of 'black media'," the UNP statement said.
"It is unfortunate that these media institutions label the groups lawfully and peacefully staging civilized protests as NGOs and international conspirators while crowning violent protesters as patriots."
"Our party commends the media institutions that accepted the petitions displaying their noble quality while we express our opposition and disgust to the black media, who displayed their authoritarianism," the statement further said.