Disaster Management and Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe told Parliament yesterday that Channel 4 news of the United Kingdom should tender a public apology to the Sri Lankan Government regarding the telecast of the false and fabricated video aimed at besmirching the name of Sri Lanka and denigrating the Armed Forces.
Responding to the adjournment motion moved by UPFA MP Lalith Dissanayake, Minister Samarasinghe said if Channel 4 is not willing to do so, they should scientifically prove that the investigations initiated by the Government into the Channel 4 video are false or inaccurate.
The Government condemns and dismisses in its entirety the video and its contents as being false and fabricated.
This conclusion is based on the consolidated findings of four separate investigations initiated by the Government, he said.
Minister Samarasinghe said the Sri Lanka Army had conducted an initial internal inquiry into the alleged incident and had found that the video had no factual basis.
The crude attempts such as that represented by the telecast of the video was a malicious attempt to play out a political agenda aimed at besmirching the name of Sri Lanka and denigrating the Armed Forces.
It was also an attempt to impair the concluding of a 30-year armed conflict under President Mahinda Rajapaksa s leadership, which has created conditions for an era of political stability and economic development, the Minister said.
The Minister said Channel 4 has not fulfilled its responsibilities in a proper manner. It is not the responsibility of a media institution to telecast any video tape they receive without further verification. Several international personalities have also expressed their concern regarding the contents of this video.
Channel 4 has stated that the source of the video is Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka (JDS), which obtained the material and said it was filmed in January 2009.
A web based search for this organisation reveals that JDS does not seem to have issued any statements prior to July 22, 2009 and it may be reasonably inferred that it did not exist prior to that date. The JDS has launched its website on or around August 1, 2009. Therefore they don t have material older than August 1, he said.
The Minister said the Sri Lankan Government is of the view that there are mushroom organisations when there are other institutions with credible track records that could have been used to distribute it.
He said the Government finds it remarkable that the obvious distortions in the video were not notified by Channel 4 and that they did not see further authentication of the video given the consequences of its telecast.
Coupled with the fact that Channel 4 was unable or unwilling to substantiate the bona fides of JDS, and given that the story was one that was potentially damaging to Sri Lanka and inimical to its reputation, the organisation s conduct was unprofessional and unseemly, the Minister added.