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Sri Lankan Diplunacy Stray Dogs, Pricks, Tigresses and CHOGM 2013

Sri Lankan Diplunacy Stray Dogs, Pricks, Tigresses and CHOGM 2013

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Published by: Thavam on Jul 12, 2013
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12 Jul, 2013
Photo courtesy  Transcurrents/ by Tony Ashby, AFP Bandula Jayasekara (@bundeljayse) is currently one of Sri Lanka’s highest-rankingdiplomats, as Consul General in New South Wales and Queensland, Australia andformer Consul General to Toronto, in Canada. His Twitter account has consistently featured bitter invective and all-manner of unsubstantiated allegations against civilsociety and human rights activists in Sri Lanka. Recently, a tirade of abusive tweetsagainst British documentary makerCallum MacRae, calling his, inter alia, a paid LTTEmercenary, a chicken, anti-Sri Lankan and going on to unequivocally and unilaterally note“I will not allow him to come to Sri Lanka on any ground”. At the time, the domestic and international media accreditation process to attendCHOGM 2013 hadn’t started, making Jayasekara’s threat to ban journalists fromattending even more outrageous. As theCommonwealth Secretariatnotes,
The Commonwealth Secretariat is working with the CHOGM 2013Taskforce in Sri Lanka to address concerns raised in the media about 
accreditation. As is customary, the Commonwealth Secretariat is the final authority for all international media accreditation for CHOGM. The accreditation process will be carried out in collaboration with the host countryauthorities, who are responsible for processing and approving visaapplications by accredited media. Media accreditation is open to all bona fide journalists, including onlinemedia practitioners, broadcasters, photographers, film and televisioncamera crews and technicians. Every effort will be made to facilitateattendance and coverage of CHOGM by the media.
Emphasis theirs. There are however real and growing fears of open and covertcensorship before, during and after CHOGM by the Sri Lankan government. On 10July, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) penned an open letter to theSecretary General of the Commonwealth, Kamalesh Sharma. The letter remindedSharma of an interview, late June, in which he said that the Commonwealth is active inSri Lanka in advancing Commonwealth values, including human rights and the media.CPJ’s letter clearly outlined the reality in Sri Lanka,
 But press reports from Colombo have indicated that the Sri Lankangovernment intends to enforce stringent background checks on any foreign journalists covering the meeting, with the apparent intention of denying them permission to enter the country. A document recentlyreleased by the Sri Lankan government said that the authorities reservethe right to “exclude any person… and impose additional conditions of entry to Sri Lanka… regardless of whether or not that person isaccredited.”  Journalists will be issued accreditation by a task force, which is adivision of the Sri Lankan Ministry of External Affairs. The ministryhas stated that credentials may be “withdrawn, suspended, ordeactivated for any reason at any time.” 
 Another open letter to Sharma, UNP MP Mangala Samaraweera, highlighted concernsover blanket censorship particularly after the CHOGM Summit.
 In fact, the Defence Secretary, recently identified social media such as Facebook and Twitter as a serious threat to national security and plansare afoot, according to reliable sources to ban social media as well as tointroduce the draconian code of ethics for the media, recently approved by Cabinet, after the summit in November.
It is in this context that the tweets of Consul General Bandula Jayasekara over thecourse of just a single day must be read. There is to our knowledge no governancearound the use of social media by Sri Lanka’s foreign service, and Jayasekara’s Twitteraccount conveniently conflates personal opinion with official positions. On Thursday,10th July alone, Jayasekara went after and included in his abominable invective journalists Callum Macrae,Frances Harrison, UK MP Alistair Burt, theCommittee to Protect Journalists, theEditor of the Colombo Telegraph website and Senior TNA  MPR. Sampanthan.Jayasekara’s tweets and retweets over the course of Thursday alone featured the
following language and sentiments,
 White tigress(referring to Frances Harrison)
 A bloody prick  (referring to photographer and blogger Asanka Ratnayake,resident in Australia)
Stray dogs(referring to Callum MacRae, though Jayasekara couched it assomething he had read on the Derana website)
Racist scum(a retweet, originally by @sittingnut and against Callum MacRae)
Mercenary & “member of the rump”(referring to Callum MacRae)
Chief Propagandist of LTTE rump(referring to Callum MacRae)
MacRae and his blood money (allegation against the Colombo Telegraph website)
mud raking insulting attacking website” (referring to Colombo Telegraph)
podiyan (referring to TNA MP R. Sampathan)In response to a question as to whether he knows about the concept of libel,Jayasekara’s retort is quite revealing. Being critical of the President is, if Jayasekara isto be believed, almost a guarantee of being denied a visa to enter Sri Lanka.
@Callum_Macrae @pressfreedom @AlistairBurtFCO @commonwealthsec  @nofirezonemovie I know what you said against my President in Toronto.
Jayasekara’s position on MacRae is also very clear,
@Callum_MacraeSo#lkagov forced 2 withdraw absurd "conditions" on journos-butthreats to refuse visas (& absurd@bundeljayserants) remain@pressfreedom
@Callum_MacraeLet me tell u again. U can campaign against my country till cows come home. Your terrorist objectives will not be achieved.
 All of Jayasekara’s tweets are in the public domain, and penned by him alone. Severalsenior voices from the British government, its High Commissioner in Colombo, severalmember states of the Commonwealth including, notably, Australia, and the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth himself have repeatedly claimed that hosting CHOGM2013 can help further the values the Commonwealth is founded upon in post-war SriLanka. Going by the Consul General’s tweets, it is entirely unclear what this confidence

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