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May 09 mayhem: Bandula blames media for promoting violent protests

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

Media Minister Bandula Gunawardena yesterday (03) faulted the media for having promoted a protest campaign that led to the killing of an MP and his police bodyguard on May 09, 2022 and the destruction of houses belonging to 72 MPs within 12 hours.

Gunawardena, who also holds the transport and highways portfolio, alleged that the media over a period of time had deliberately created an environment conducive for the unprecedented attacks on the MPs. He said properties belonging to altogether 800 people’s representatives at different levels had come under attack.

The Minister said so at the inauguration of the second day of a UNDP funded workshop on media capacity building held at the Shangri-La, Colombo. Media Secretary Anusha Palpita was also present.

On behalf of the UNDP Marlin Herwig, Deputy Resident Representative addressed the gathering. In a barred attack on the media, the Colombo District lawmaker said that those who incited people should accept the responsibility for losses caused to politicians.

Minister Gunawardena said that his house atJambugasmulla road, Nugegoda as well as an adjacent building belonging to his son had been set ablaze. Gunawardena claimed that those who entered his unguarded house included about 50 women.

Referring to the eruption of a public protest campaign outside the then President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s private residence at Pangiriwatte, Mirihana on the night of March 31, 2022, Minister Gunawardena said that on that day a group of protesters had gathered outside his residence. The minister said that the protesters referred to him as the one who had claimed a person could survive with just Rs 2,500. The MP said that those who attacked his house and the adjoining building, too, recalled how he had justified one person could live with Rs 2,500.

MP Gunawardena alleged that the people reacted to totally wrong reportage of a statement made by him during President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s second term.

Alleging that the media brazenly exploited statements made in and outside Parliament, the minister expressed concern over the conduct of the media. The minister said that the internationally acclaimed movie ‘The Newspaper’ produced by him dealt with irresponsible journalism and how such conduct affected the lives of ordinary people.

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