Category Archives: press freedom

The Threads of Intolerance within Contemporary Liberal/Radical Fervour

A Letter on Justice and Open Debate …. Harpers’ Magazine, July 7, 2020 ……………..
……… The letter below  will be appearing in the Letters section of the magazine’s October issue. We welcome responses at letters@harpers.org

Our cultural institutions are facing a moment of trial. Powerful protests for racial and social justice are leading to overdue demands for police reform, along with wider calls for greater equality and inclusion across our society, not least in higher education, journalism, philanthropy, and the arts. But this needed reckoning has also intensified a new set of moral attitudes and political commitments that tend to weaken our norms of open debate and toleration of differences in favor of ideological conformity. As we applaud the first development, we also raise our voices against the second. The forces of illiberalism are gaining strength throughout the world and have a powerful ally in Donald Trump, who represents a real threat to democracy. But resistance must not be allowed to harden into its own brand of dogma or coercion—which right-wing demagogues are already exploiting. The democratic inclusion we want can be achieved only if we speak out against the intolerant climate that has set in on all sides.

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Authoritarian Populism is the Danger Ahead

Ahilan Kadirgamar, in Daily Mirror, 6 July 2020, where the title runs “Regimes in Times of Crisis: Authoritarian Populism, Bonapartism and Fascism”

The crisis we face now is like a tectonic shift in the economy. Global production, the labour used for it, and the demand to realise it, are all in free fall. What will be the political consequences, and what kind of regimes will emerge out of such a deep crisis?
In Sri Lanka, as we approach a significant parliamentary election, my question is not about the character of the parties and the personalities of the candidates that may win or lose. The victory of the SLPP and its consolidation is a bygone fact; that battle was lost with the presidential election last November.

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A Chilling and Terrifying Word-Picture of USA Today

David Kilcullen, in The Inquirer, 30 May 2020 and the Australian, 4 June 2020, with this title Home of the hateful, fearful, heavily armed” …..

Coronavirus is threatening to ignite a tinderbox of grievances in the US. The growing parallels with Iraq, Lebanon and Somalia are real and disturbing.

The rise of militias and armed protesters across the US is sometimes seen as a fringe right-wing issue, but it is much broader. Armed groups have formed across the political spectrum, worsening divisions the coronavirus has exposed in American society.

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Penny Wong and Medcalf: Critical Comments on Australia’s Asia Policy

Andrew Tillett, in Financial Review, 3 March 2020, where the title runs “ Climate, coronavirus raises risk of ‘armed mistrust’ between China, US”

The risk of “armed mistrust” between China and the US is rising, with climate change and coronavirus two key areas where co-operation is sorely lacking, according to Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong. Senator Wong also criticised the government’s cuts to foreign aid in south-east Asia at a time when she said Australia needed to be strengthening its regional influence.

Penny Wong will say that for Australia to realise the region it wants demands multipolarity, not binary competition between the US and China. Alex Ellinghausen

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Switzerland Surrenders …. While the Machinations of a Cabal appear in the Deep Seas

Political Editor of the Sunday Times, 5 January 2019, where the title runs  “UNP leadership: Parliamentary group to decide next week”

Switzerland has publicly expressed regrets for challenging Sri Lankan “authorities’ commitment to due process” and for calling that “into question” over the saga involving an embattled staffer at the embassy in Colombo. Their about turn, embarrassingly coming down a few notches, was spelt out in an official Third Person Note (TPN) Bern sent on December 30, 2019 to the Ministry of Foreign Relations. This was after diplomatic consultations got under way with a special envoy to ease tensions between the two countries. The note was released both in Colombo and Bern simultaneously.

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Bar Association canes Swiss Embassy for Its Garnier Act

News Item in Island, 4 January 2019,where the title reads thus …. “BASL takes umbrage over Swiss Govt. statement”

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka yesterday took umbrage over the high handed statement issued by the Swiss government on December 30 relating to proceedings pending in the magistrates Court of Colombo over the purported abduction of one of its Colombo embassy’s local employees.

Hanspeter Mock

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The AUSTRALIAN ‘Umpire’ bats for Sajith and depicts Gota as Anti-Democratic Ogre

 Amanda Hodge in The Weekend Australian, 16 November 2019, where the title runs Sri Lanka election dilemma: democracy or the dread of dynasty”

Ahead of Sri Lanka’s polarising presidential elections on Saturday, an editorial tinged with desperation in the Sunday Observer newspaper urged voters “to keep the lights on in Asia’s oldest democracy. Vote to keep the journalists in this newsroom and newsrooms across the country, who are trying to be truth-tellers, safe from harm,” it said. “There are 35 candidates on the November 16 ballot paper, but a presidential election is ultim­ately a choice between two candidates. One of them terrifies us.”

Presidential candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa with the Sinhalese-Buddhist nationalist party on Wednesday during the last political rally before heading to the polls on Saturday. Picture: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images.

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French Revolutionary Songs …. Marchons! Marchons!

 Satyajith Andradi, in Island, 12 July 2019, with this titleLa Marseillaise And L’internationale – Revolutionary Songs From France”

 “How many on our flesh eat their fill?
But if the ravens, the vultures, One morning disappeared,
The Sun would shine still.” …..
L’Internationale; trans; Michell Abidor

the Storming of the Bastille

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Canadian Cha-Cha-Cha: Genocide Claims

Chandre Dharmawardana, in Colombo Telegraph, 5 July 2019, where the title “Two Alleged Genocides – And Canada’s Claimed Support For Conflict Prevention In Sri Lanka”

David McKinnon, Canada’s High Commissioner to Sri Lanka  has stated, on Canada’s National Day  that  “Canada would continue to support conflict prevention efforts in Sri Lanka, where  it has been seen how hate speech and media can entrench communal divisions”.  Meanwhile back in Canada, successive Canadian governments have failed to understand how this very “hate speech” is being entrenched in Canadian municipal discourse and even in parliamentary proceedings by militant diaspora groups. They wish to replay the old ethnic animosities of their homeland  in Canada too.

fervent demonstrations in Toronto mounted by Canadian Tamils in 2009 … presaging recent claims

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Hanging Israel Folau: Corporate Power in ‘Marriage’ with the Bigotry of Progressives

Steven Chavura, in The Australian, 25 April 2019, with this title “Beware the Choke Tackle of Diversity”

In the seminal textbook of liberalism, On Liberty (1859), John Stuart Mill depicted a Victorian England full of prudishness and prejudice, describing social convention, rather than the government, as the greatest threat to freedom of speech. In some ways little has changed, for it is not the government that has sought to punish Israel Folau for his public Christianity. Yet at the same time it is not society either, at least not in the sense of a grassroots movement to see his contract terminated. Indeed, many fans in lower-middle-class multicultural suburbs would find nothing offensive about the sentiments on homosexuality that he expressed in his infamous tweets.

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