PWJA convenor Freddy Gamage alleged that the ruling UNP-SLFP coalition had conveniently forgotten the role they had played in ousting the Rajapaksas. According to Gamage, the battle against the Rajapaksas had been launched by web-based media.
Underscoring the pivotal importance of their contribution to help Maithripala Sirisena win the presidential election in January 2015, Gamage expressed concern over President Sirisena and several ministers taking on web-based media.
PWJA paid a glowing tribute to Lankaenews and Lankanewsweb for spearheading the media campaign against the Rajapaksas.
Gamage alleged that their repeated pleas for the government to create an environment for web-based media to operate freely had been ignored. The PWJA convenor pointed out that the government had also turned a blind eye to the plight of Chandima of Lankanewsweb previously targeted by the Rajapaksa administration seven years back.
Gamage said that the PWJA wouldn’t endorse Lankaenews editorial policy though it strongly believed in their right to operate. "We’ll unconditionally defend their right," Gamage said, alleging that the government had forgotten Lankaenews had adopted a similar strategy during the previous administration. Those who had been fighting the previous government hadn’t found anything wrong with Lankaenews at the time, Gamage said.
Claiming that PWJA had proposed on several occasions to establish a code-of-conduct for web-based media and also to do away with restrictions placed on websites, Gamage castigated the government for reneging on its promises.
Recollecting their plea to create a level playing field for web-based media, Gamage claimed that the government had absolutely failed to take tangible remedial measures.
PWJA alleged that President Sirisena hadn’t given them an opportunity to make representations to him though several attempts were made since the change of government. PWJA pointed that they had never been invited by President Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe when they met journalists from mainstream media.
PWJA identified Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakse, PC as one of those responsible for ongoing campaign against web-based media.
Alleging that web-based journalists had been deprived of their rights and privileges, Gamage asserted that the government was eying the possibility of suppressing and regulating the media. The government should be ashamed of the current situation, Gamage said, vowing to do whatever its takes to ensure web-media operation.
Alleging that the government had paved the way for those responsible for targeting web-media during the previous administration to resume their sordid operations, PWJA said the organisation would stand firm in its commitment to overcome whatever challenges faced by the industry.
Vowing to go ahead with their campaign against the suppression of media rights, PWJA said that they expected the government to review its draconian policies.