Navy chief goes berserk … manhandles Island/Divaina correspondent at Hambantota Port
Posted on December 14th, 2016

Courtesy The Island

Peacetime heroics Navy Commander Vice Admiral Ravi Wijayagunaratne and his men manhandling The Island correspondent Roshan Gunasekera at the Hambantota Port. Pic by Dilip N Jayasekera

navycomanderhmanhadle

Image from a video footage of Navy commander attacking journalist held by naval ratings
As a Sathyagraha launched by the Hambantota port workers entered the fourth consecutive day yesterday without any sign of an early solution, media and civil organisations, labour unions and political parties condemned Navy Commander Vice Admiral Ravi Wijayagunaratne for manhandling The Island/Divaina Suriyawewa correspondent Roshan Gunasekera.

Gunasekera said: “I shouted that I was from the media when they held me. Then the person who attacked me said: ‘That is why we hit you.’ I identified the attacker as the incumbent Navy Commander.”

Gunasekera said: “I work as the Suriyawewa correspondent of The Island and Divaina and the TV correspondent of the Hiru. I went to the Magampura Port to report the Satyagraha by the port employees. While I was reporting the event, a naval officer in civvies came to me and asked what I was doing there. I told him I was from media and showed him my media accreditation card. Then he grabbed me by my neck and dragged me to a place where there was another group. The Navy Commander in a T-shirt and shorts came there and I told him, too, that I was from media. He abused me in filthy language and assaulted me. Port workers shouted that I was a journalist and not to attack me. The navy men tried to grab my camera and I ran away. Later, I took treatment from a private medical institute in Suriyawewa. I intend to lodge a complaint at Hambantota ASP office for my protection for now. I fear for my life.”

Gunasekera has lodged a complaint with the police.

The government has said an investigation is underway into the attack on the journalist.

The Sri Lanka Photojournalists’ Association has condemned the Navy commander’s assault on The Island journalist. Association’s secretary Romesh Dhanushka Silva has said in a media statement: “We vehemently condemn the brutal attack by navy commander on a journalist. The Navy commander attacked the journalist while the latter was showing his media accreditation. This is a serious situation. The Navy Commander’s action is a huge slur on hitherto impeccable record of the Sri Lanka Navy. According to the Constitution every citizen is equal before the law. It should be the same with the navy commander, too. We demand justice from the government and call upon it to take immediate action against the Navy commander for assaulting, hindering and obstructing the journalist carrying out his duties.”

Workers Struggle Centre has, in a media release, condemned the high-handed action of the navy in suppressing the trade union action. It said: “Media organisations have published photos and videos of armed navy men attacking unarmed protesters. Navy commander himself attacked journalists. We condemn this assault and demand justice from the government.”

The release signed by Organisational Secretary of the WSC Duminda Nagamuwa said: “This government came to power, promising to ensure democracy. We know how the previous government crushed public protests at Chilaw, Rathupaswala and Katunayake. This government, too, has done the same. It, too, has resorted using military power against the people.”

The JVP has pledged fullest support for the Satyagraha launched by Hambantota port workers against government’s moves to hand over 15,000 acres in the area on a 198 year lease to a Chinese company. JVP Trade Union Wing leader K.D. Lalkantha Friday visited Hambantota and addressing a rally held at Bellagaswewa junction in support of the agitation pledged his party’s support to the protestors.

Meanwhile, a press release issued by the Department of Government Information under the title ‘Alleged assault on a journalist at Hambantota Port’ said: “The government has initiated an inquiry into the alleged assault on a journalist during the protest incident at Hambantota Port Saturday (10). However, according to preliminary inquiries, the concerned journalist violated basic ethical practices when covering sensitive conflict situations. It is highly expected that the journalists adhere to the highest standards of ethical practices when covering these types of conflict situations. Meanwhile, the Navy says that the physical presence of its commander at the scene was mandatory as per the requirements of the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code.”

12 Responses to “Navy chief goes berserk … manhandles Island/Divaina correspondent at Hambantota Port”

  1. Christie Says:

    Christie Says:
    December 11th, 2016 at 6:29 pm
    මේ පුතාත් ඉන්දියානු අනුමැතිය ඇත්තෙක්.
    Another son approved by the Indian Empire.

  2. Dilrook Says:

    Navy conduct depends on who is involved. While it assaults Sinhala people with filth and physically, navy surrenders to Tamil and Muslim aggressors. Compare this behaviour with how the navy acted in Silawathurai and Trincomalee. Shame on the navy top brass.

    This disgusting navy commander must be removed. Otherwise it brings disrepute to the entire nation. If it was the Rajapaksa regime in power, the entire NGO bandwagon would have had a field day. Is there a connection between Navy’s recent unprofessional conduct and its close links with US defence?

    It is also worthwhile to investigate if there was an Indian connection to protestors who are opposed to leasing the port to China.

  3. S.Gonsal Says:

    This is extremely bad for our rreputation trying to befriend USA and the West. While all other Navy officers behave extreley politely, this ONE THUG ( may be promted by MR, from his village ?) ruins everything.

  4. Gunadasa Says:

    “Navy chief goes berserk” වැරදි කියමණකි. මේවා ලියන පත්තරකරුවෝ රටට ආදරයක් ඇති අය නොවේ. වීඩියෝ දර්ශන බලද්දී හමුදාපති ඇරෙන්න නාවික භටයෝ ඉතාම සාධාරණව සහ විනයානුකූලව කටයුතු කලහ​.

    නාවික හමුදාපතිට කේන්තියෑම සාධාරණ ය​. ඔහුගේ ක්‍රියා වැරදි උනත් ඒවා ප්‍රයෝජනයට ගෙන රටට විනකරන පත්තර කාරයෝද අපි හෙලා දකිමු.

  5. NeelaMahaYoda Says:

    I 100% agree with Dilrook Kannangara

    In his article Dilrook says it is Shameful and cowardly conduct of the Sri Lanka Navy that should be roundly condemned. No less than the Navy Commander used raw filth and violence against unarmed innocent Sinhala civilians in Hambantota. His words perfectly describe his own conduct and descent.

    What is surprising is the meekly surrender the same navy suffered in Silawathurai and Trincomalee! In Silawathurai, Tamil thugs armed with clubs and machetes assaulted three naval ratings severely injuring them and keeping one of them in their custody. They agreed to release the navy personnel kept in their custody in exchange for immunity. Alas! Immunity was granted to these terror wielding hooligans. It was a mini episode of a prisoner exchange! To make matters worse for the little men in blue uniform, police protection was given the navy camp.

    Then there was the incident involving the Muslim Chief Minister of the east who publicly abused a navy officer. Not just the navy brushed it under the carpet, it also replaced the area commander and even invited the offending Chief Minister and his clique for lunch.

    The navy has been unable to halt Tamil Nadu illegal fishermen venturing into Lankan waters. This conduct is consistent with other incidents.

    This discriminatory, filthy and cowardly conduct of the navy raises very serious issues. Is it the product of closer ties with the US navy Sri Lanka has cultivated recently? Okinawa has seen similar conduct displayed by US troops against natives (lets not talk about Diego Garcia). Looks like the Sri Lanka navy has been reduced to a ragtag group of men willingly surrendering to Tamil and Muslim abuse while abusing Sinhala civilians. They must be reminded of the repercussions of losing public trust and the need to treat everyone equally irrespective of ethnicity.

    If he has any professionalism left, the navy commander must step down.

  6. Gunadasa Says:

    NeelaMahaYoda,

    ඔබකියන කරුණේත් ඇත්තක් ඇත​. එහෙත් මේ අවස්ථාවේදී නාවික භටයෝ කලේ වැදගත් රාජකාරියකි.
    එසේම තමිල්නාදු ධීවරයන් මෙන්ම මත්ද්‍රව්‍ය ප්‍රවාහනය කරන්නන්ද නාවික හමුදාව ඉතාම දක්‍ෂලෙස අල්ලා පොලීසියට භාර දීමට කටයුතු කරති. දේසපාලකයන් ජයලලිතාට බයේ මොවුන් නිදහස් කරති. මෙය සත්‍යයක් නොවේ ද ? එසේනම් වැරදි කරුවා කවුද ?

  7. NeelaMahaYoda Says:

    මොකක්ද මේ නාවික භටයෝ කල වැදගත් රාජකාරිය.

    නැව බේරාගැනීම පැත්තක දමා ලග හිටිය පත්තර කාරයින්ට තඩි බෑමද?.

    නැව බේරා ගැනීම ගැන අපේ කිසිම ප්‍රශ්නයක් නෑ. පට්ට කුනුහරපෙන් බැන බැන මාධ්‍යය කාරයින්ට තඩි බෑම නාවික හමුදාවරයකුගේ හැසිරීම මුලු රටටම නිගාදෙන වැඩක්.

    වෙන රටකනම් මෙවැනි දෙයක් කර අසූනොත් නාවික හමුදාවරයා ඉල්ලා අස්වියයුතුයි

    මරදානේ චෝප්පේ වගේ හමුදාපතිවරයාට හැසිරෙන්න අවශ්‍ය පරිසරය නිර්මාණය කළේ කව්ද?

    මේ ප්‍රශ්න සහිත කාරණය සිද්ධ වුණේ නැවේ නෙවෙයි ගොඩබිම. නාවික හමුදාපතිවරයා පහර දෙන්නේ ඔවුන්ව ඇදගෙන යන්නේ මේක සිද්ධ වෙන්නේ නැවේ දී නෙවෙයි. නැව නිදහස් කර ගැනීමේ ක්‍රියාවලියේ දී නෙවෙයි.

    නාවික හමුදාපතිවරයෙක් නිල වශයෙන් රාජකාරියේ යෙදිලා ඉන්න කොට කොට කලිසමයි ටී ෂර්ට් එකයි ඇදගෙන මරදානේ චෝප්පේ වගේ හැසිරෙන්න අවශ්‍ය ඇයි?

  8. Christie Says:

    All this is caused by Sinhala Indian terrorists the JVP.

  9. Gunadasa Says:

    NeelaMahaYoda,

    ඔබතුමාගේ තර්කය හරි. මොහුගේ හැසිරීම අපි හෙලා දැකිය යුතුයි.
    එහෙත් මුලු රටේම නාවික හමුදාව එක් පුද්ගලයකු නිසා අවඥාවට ලක් කරන පත්තර කාරයෝ මම හෙලා දකිමි.

    එසේම කොටින්ට විරුද්ධව සටනේ, විශේෂ බෝට්ටු බලකාය නිර්මාණය සඳසා මූලිකවුන සටනේ ඉදිරියෙන්ම සිටි මොහුට අපි අනුකම්පා නොකරමු ද ?

  10. NeelaMahaYoda Says:

    ජාතික වීරයෙක් උනත් දේශපාලකයින්ගේ බැලමෙහෙවර කර ජනතා විරෝදී අන්දමට හැසුරුනොත් ජනතාව විසින් ඔහුගේ වීරත්වය මකාදමන බව සරත් ෆොන්සේකාගේ කතාවෙන් පැහැදිලි වන්නේ නැද්ද?

    වර්ජකයින් හා කතාකොට ඔවුන් ගෙනයන වර්ජනය නීතියානුකුල නොවනබව පලමුවෙන් වර්ජකයින්ට දැනුම්දීම උසස් සම්ප්‍රදායික යුතුකමක් බව ඔහු නොදන්නා බව ඔහුගේ ජඩ හැසිරීමෙන් මනාව පැහැදිලිවේ.

    ජාතික වීරයෙකුටත් නාවික හමුදා ප්‍රධානියෙකුටත් මොහු කිසිසේත් සුදුසු නැත.

  11. Fran Diaz Says:

    Questions to ask :

    Did the Navy Chief act on his own or per plans of the Higher Command in Lanka ?

    Surely there is some play acting going on here ?

    Lanka’s Armed Forces are being diminished, quite purposely ?

    What has the Commander in Chief, Pres Sirisena has to say re all this ?

  12. Fran Diaz Says:

    And let’s not take our eyes off the Main Menu – the New Constitution !

    Distractions galore to keep us distracted from the no good New Constitution.
    Latest Act, starring the poor Navy Commander.

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