Featured image courtesy Paula Bronstein/The Global Mail
Discovered through a tweet this morning that the article ‘Champika, Rathana Thera responsible for Gnanasara Thera’s actions’, published in print and on the Daily Mirror website on 16th June 2017, has been deleted. No explanation given by the paper as to why the article, which is readily available on other sites a Google search away, is no longer on its own website.
At the time of writing, the video of the press conference by the BBS, on which the report was based on, is still available on the Daily Mirror’s YouTube channel. We have archived the video here, in case it too inexplicably and eventually disappears.
As noted on Wikipedia, the Streisand effect is the phenomenon whereby an attempt to hide, remove, or censor a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicising the information more widely, usually facilitated by the Internet. It is an example of psychological reactance, wherein once people are aware something is being kept from them, their motivation to access and spread the information is increased.
This mysterious yet revealing deletion of news and information around the BBS, Gnanasara and those who have been associated with it, now holding key positions of power in the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government, is cause for concern. Gnanasara, at the time of writing and despite two warrants in his name, evades arrest. The entire Police force and intelligence services of Sri Lanka cannot find him, and for over a month. As columnist Tisaranee Gunesekara notes,
The BBS is on the march, once again. Attacks on Muslim shops and mosques have proliferated. The attacks are not limited to any particular locality, but extremely widespread, from urban Dematagoda via suburban Maharagama to rural Mahiyangana. So far the police have been inexcusably incompetent in prevention and in detection. And Lankan police suffer such generalised and spectacular failure only when a political hand is holding them back.
Emphasis ours. Why is an article linking the BBS and Gnanasara to a powerful member of government suddenly and without any explanation taken down? Who is powerful and feared enough in order for a mainstream newspaper in Sri Lanka to take down content from its website? What does the level of impunity Gnanasara enjoys in 2017, reminiscent of what he enjoyed in 2014 under the Rajapaksa regime, say of the current administration and those in it?
In order to increase the discoverability of the content taken down from the Daily Mirror website, we publish the contents of it in full below. Those in power need to be reminded that censorship and impunity only bring grief upon themselves.
‘Champika, Rathana Thera responsible for Gnanasara Thera’s actions’
The Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) said today Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka and MP Athureliya Rathana Thera should take responsibility for its General Secretary Galagodaaththe Gnanasara Thera intervening in various matters in the country.
“Gnanasara Thera would have turned even more violent had he accepted the contracts given by Minister Ranawaka and Rathana Thera,” BBS CEO Dilanthe Vithanage told a news contract (sic).
He said they had prompted Gnanasara Thera to incite violence to achieve their political goals.
“No one talks about the real issues which he raises in public,” Mr. Vithanage said.
Sinhala Ravaya General Secretary Magalkande Sudaththa Thera said the Government was trying to label Gnanasara Thera as another Prabhakaran.
“The joint opposition paints the BBS as a front of the Government while the Government the BBS as a JO front. The Government also blamed the BBS saying the BBS was created by former defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa to pave the way for him to contest the 2020 presidential election. On the other hand the JO said the BBS was created to support to Minister Champika Ranawaka to do the same,” he said. (Chaturanga Pradeep)