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Government Gazette

‘Weligama Declaration 2006’

Journalists’ role vital in building national unity

The launching of the `Weligama Declaration 2006’, which demonstrates the role to be played by the media for national unity, took place at the BMICH on Wednesday.


Science and Technology Minister Prof. Tissa Vitharana at the launch.

Science and Technology Minister Prof. Tissa Vitharana, UNP, Deputy Leader Karu Jayasuriya, Bosnian Newspaper Editor Kemal Kurspahic addressed the ceremony. A message from the Mass Media and Information Minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa was read by Ministry Consultant Charitha Herath.

The contents of the Weligama Declaration 2006 was first discussed at a workshop held at Weligama in September. The Bakeer Markar Centre for National Unity and the Sri Lanka Press Institute were the two organisations involved in fostering national unity, that brought journalists and intellectuals to discuss about the media’s role in building Sri Lankan unity.

Ten media organisations in the country, including the Editors’ Guild of Sri Lanka, Working Journalists’ Association, the Free Media Movement, the Newspaper Society of Sri Lanka and the Muslim and Tamil Media Alliance unanimously endorsed the declaration.

According to Minister Yapa’s message, although media can play a major role to create the national unity among communities, a section of the media in Sri Lanka exacerbates existing communal and ethnic tensions by continuously playing on the nationalist and religious emotions of the people.

“In most countries who very often face with conflicts, one finds some of the media guilty of campaigns to demonize one group of people and build resentment and fear among the other group,”.

The message also says that the role, played by the media for national unity cannot be over-emphasized. Media personnel are at the front line and it is through them that much of our world is interpreted.

The ratification of the Weligama Declaration is very heartening, because the strength of this diversity provides avenue for activity for many journalists.

The message also says that only the ratification of the declaration alone would not produce results and constant consultations among media heads on the agreed points are essential to sustain this endeavour.

Minister Prof. Tissa Vitharana said that it was the duty of every journalist to make proper and accurate reporting as the reading public totally rely on their reporting.

The Minister also stressed that all media men must act with sense of responsibility.

UNP, Deputy Leader Karu Jayasuriya recalling his school days at Ananda College, said that he had a close rapport with students of various communities.

“Although we belonged to different communities and our teachers too, we lived happily without problems,” he said.
He said a peaceful environment prevailed in this country five decades ago and it was not late even now for the media to play a bigger role to create the same unity once again among all communities.

In a special interview on the Weligama Declaration 2006, former Minister Imthiyas Bakeer Markar said that his late father had a dream to bridge the gap between all communities irrespective of their caste, creed or religion and the `Weligama Declaration 2006’ was launched to meet his objectives.

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Produced by Lake House Copyright 2006 The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd.

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