Sri Lanka anchor defends colleague justifying New Zealand massacre

ECONOMYNEXT – A senior anchor attempted to distance her private television network from controversial comments of a colleague who justified the massacre of 50 people in New Zealand, but ended up indirectly endorsing the racist comments.

Dilka Samanmali of Derana TV said her controversial colleague Chapa Chapabandara was not a full time employee, but a freelance anchor for the TV station.

However, she repeated Chapabandara’s argument equating the New Zealand mosque massacre to what he believes to be New Zealand’s action of exporting “poisoned” milk powder to Sri Lanka.

“New Zealand sending us poisoned milk, either knowingly or unknowingly, and the mass murder are both wrong,” Samanmali wrote on her Facebook page.

In Sri Lanka, conspiracy theories are floated against imported products by vested interests. The latest is that milk powder from New Zealand has diary fat replaced by pork fat.

On her Facebook page, Samanmali said she regretted Chapabandara’s post which suggested New Zealand “deserved the mass massacre” , but did not condemn it.

Samanmali’s followers on Facebook too cheered the mass massacre of Muslims.

A Facebook follower of Samanmali identified as “Thushara Ratnayaka” said the massacre was a good response to Muslim extremists. “Eka hoda vedak muslim anthavadayata dipu hoda pilithurak.”

Another Facebook user asked Samanmali to read comments for Chapabandara’s post to understand how Derana fans were rejoicing the mass murder of 50 Muslims.

At the same time, many social media users on other platforms castigated Derana and demanded that Chapabandara be taken off the air, but there was no immediate response from owners of the station although they had been tagged in social media posts.

“Dangerous shooting in New Zealand! They must be thinking they can feed us poison and live in fun! Huh… CHAPA, March 15, 2019” Chapabandara said on Facebook and Twitter. After an avalanche of protests, he issued a lengthy, rambling video defending his comments. He described his detractors as “uneducated people”.

Former Central Bank deputy governor W. A. Wijewardena said the Derana TV personality’s comments were totally unacceptable.

“Disgusting, but you can’t expect anything different from such half-educated people; if one goes by the same reasoning, SL was subject to all those terrorist attacks may be due to some past sins (of Sri Lankans)!,” Wijewardena said on Twitter.

Chapabandara issued several more posts on Facebook over the weekend claiming he was a patriot defending armed forces.

Facebook user Nuwan Dissanayaka told Chapabandara that it was too late to cover his offensive comments with “patriotism.”

“Too late, you have already proved you are a cheap media man,” Dissanayaka said commenting on Chapabandara’s Facebook page.

An Australian white supremacist has been arrested for the gunning down of 50 people at two mosques in Christchurch and wounding over 30 others in the worst incident of gun violence in the country on Friday. (COLOMBO, March 17, 2019-SB)