| by a Special Correspondent (KK)
( 03 March 2012, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The above ceremony was held recently at the Sirimavo Bandaranayke Exhibition Hall of the BMICH, Colombo, with the participation of a large crowd including Ravaya readers and supporters plus President Mahinda Rajapakse, Opposition Leader, Ranil Wickramasinghe, Tamil National Alliance Leader, R.Sambandan, Nissam Karriapper, Deputy Secretary, representing Srilanka Muslim Congress Leader Rauf Hakkim, and several other Ministers and Parliamentarians.
Ravaya weekly, a Sinhala language newspaper, has been widely regarded for its editorial independence and radical political views during decades of unrest and war. It had started as a magazine in the early August 1966 and now grown as a newspaper since August 1986.
Prof.Sarath Wijesuriya starting the inaugural address said that ‘RAVAYA IS NOT A DREAM BUT IT IS A REALITY’. Ravaya first published in August 1966 as a magazine and later developed into a Newspaper in August 1986. I myself am a continuous reader and also a writer of Ravaya magazine from the beginning and until 2012 now. Ravaya is still continuing to be published as a newspaper in Srilanka, not inaugurated on a political motive but started on social and political wellbeing of the country. This act as a stage for all, including citizens representing civil society as well the common man.
There are three good political goals in inaugurating of this paper, namely, people directing towards a comentable stand on the political complexity of the country, secondly, representing law and order, Truth and good governance, thirdly, strength of thought for thinking and reading. When ravaya was established, it was J.R. Jayewardene who governed Srilanka. He not only governed Srilanka but controlled the media of that time. All the rulers who came after J.R. also did the same thing for media on different extents. As a civil citizen, what I see from Victor Ivan is how he was existing giving an unbiased and unafraid leadership to his paper. It was actually a tremendous job. At times he fought with the powerful ministers or presidents and senior government officers of the country like Chief Justice, Judges etc. Not only fought by his paper but also wrote so many books namely a few, ‘nonimi aragalaya’,’pena ahinsakada’,’pansale viplawaya’,’lankawa galawa ganima’,chawra rajya’. Now I am going to highlight a dialogue in the first Ravaya magazine that is ‘what is going to happen to the country’. S.Nadeshan,Q.C., Ven. Maduluwave Sobitha Thero, ,Dr.A.T.Ariyaratne, Hector Abeywardena, Dr. Colvin R. De Silva, Dr.Newton Gunasinghe, Prof. Ediriweera Sarathchandra, the then Defense Minister Lalith Athulathmudali supplemented to the dialogue. Ideas expressed by all these personnel are very much relevant to today.
Next spoke Mr. Victor Ivan (Chief Editor) explained his untiring 25 years of Ravaya services rendered to the nation.
On the occasion of its 25th year of publication, Ravaya’s editor, Victor Ivan, defended the newspaper’s social and political evolution. He said Ravaya has undergone development over more than two decades from a small-time operation to a mainstream vehicle for news and lively, sometimes even contentious, opinion and analysis.
During the period under review, it had gone against politicians of both government & opposition, Presidents, Ministers of successive governments, public officers like Judges and even Chief Justice, Secretaries of ministries, etc.
“Obviously, it is an uphill task, as the newspaper sought to correct all wrongs in society, not just politically but socially and in every sphere and sector of the industry,” the chief editor told the gathering.
‘Ravaya aims to address the key issues facing the nation’, he further stressed.
‘Ravaya has done & still doing to correct malpractices in society and thereby brought about key changes within the establishments at the time. In particular, he noted the paper’s editorial fight against Sri Lanka’s judiciary.’ The newspaper set a precedent by criticizing the behavior of judges and the courts.
Mr. Ivan has been a long-standing social activist as well as a highly regarded journalist. He was among the leaders of the 1971 Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) Marxist insurrection and a member of the Free Media Movement.
He has since left his political radicalism behind and taken a new path towards social change, using the paper to change people’s perceptions.
‘Ravaya became the newspaper with an opinion that also allowed people to air their views, including those that were the subject of criticism of politics and society.’ he further said.
At the beginning , he said,’ he invited peoples representatives including, Head of State, Leader of Opposition, Leader of Tamil NationalAlliance,LeaderofMuslimCongress,governmentofficers,professionls,educationists,artists,journalists,and readers of Ravaya for this 25 th anniversary. He further stated that we now are in a decisive, important, historical junction as a nation, and that is why we invited such a delegation to give their urgent attention to this particular problem. We celebrated the 64 Th anniversary of Independence recently, but more than half of that time we had to live within blood baths. When we compared with the population figure, the number of persons killed or wounded is a bigger one. Even the souls of the living and not wounded are injured, needs treatment, not prevailing in a positive or healthy society as we all were suffering among dead bodies, and with wounded people as well were living under tragic circumstances in the society with fear of death.
When we got a democratic freedom from our colonial rulers, our leaders did not possess a clear vision to unite our people who had vast differences of race, cast, creed and religious basis. These leaders saw the seeds of anger and hate on the basis of race, cast, creed, and religion to grab the power from the other. 1977 presidential system made the country worse and can be named as a prime step in a journey going towards an un-united & undemocratic society. Since then we lost the rule of law, and there is corruption & wastage in all spheres, Taking revenge, not giving due suitable place for qualifications, unjustifiying in distribution of dividends etc.
As I see there are two ways to solve this problem, one is revolution which is not advisable and leads to dangerous results. The other method is to draw up a plan for a collective agreement & a plan to achieve national reconciliation after studying the nature of the problem and its causes honestly & rightly. So now it is the moment that everybody joins hands and does something to rebuild a new Sri Lanka. For this, the prime responsibility lies on our political leaders including head of state & leader of the opposition & others. Similarly the institutions, which have been in a broken state as a whole, should be revived to the satisfaction of the general public. An immediate solution has to be given to the ethnic problem. We must reorganize the entire system and make a genuine democratic government. When doing it, we may consider the recommendations of LLRC. The final target would be a united country and a democratic country where everything is done under the rule of law and order. Then only we can get up to face the challenges of within the country and also coming from internationally. Finally I wish wisdom for this to all the political leaders including head of state.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa said the uprisings of 1971, 1989 – 90 periods and the 30 year terrorism have brought nothing but blood and tears to the nation. We must not be complacent and think that we have obliterated terrorism once and for all, but determine to create an atmosphere in which terrorism and separatism would never raise their heads.
‘Sri Lanka never sowed the seeds of racism to fight terrorism and, therefore, had the blessings of the people to restore peace, harmony and reconciliation across the length and breadth of the country. There were no large scale massacres, extra judicial killings committed by armed forces in Sri Lanka during the 30 year war, as democracy protected in the country. Peace, justice and conciliation disappear when one takes up arms and separatism puts an end to development’. He said.
He further said that by running Ravaya for 25 years, Victor has done a good job, I wish him success, and he had the courage & devotion to do this. This is a good strength to democracy in our country. He finally appealed to unite to build up one Srilankan nation which will cater to future of our people and our future generation. Otherwise the future generation will curse us not only politicians, but also for all of us including media men, professionals and religious leaders.
Opposition leader Ranil Wickramasinghe said that Ravaya also started with the changes effected in 1977, Ravaya commenced to produce opposing views to UNP and to protect democracy, Victor Ivan has done an immense job of work. Similarly, Ravaya represented the people when wars took place in South & North, to protect the democracy in the country. We remember when we start the open economy in 1977, some Asian countries were far behind us but now they are in the forefront now only, Cambodia, Myanmar, Bangladesh etc. are behind us. Ravaya can be treated as a by product of 1977.That time drastic changes did occur in social and economical fields. Ravaya acted as a commentator. It sounded so many new ideas against open economy. Therefore Ravaya did a prominent role among other newspapers. They acted in a very hard time in our country. When Democracy in a troubled state, they tried to protect it. Ravaya started a survey how the different governments of Srilanka building up the society, Re-building up will be done by reorganizing of Health, Education and Employment sectors. At this occasion, all these aspects have to be reorganized to be suited to new generation, to give a better life to future generation. Ravaya those days wrote against UNP, after that it worked devotedly to bring Chandrika in, & finally Mr. Ivan wrote a book against Chandrika.
We all agreed for LLRC recommendations, but we are not talking a mechanism to effect changes it has proposed, what is up to us is talking about it & do something urgently, We must make a solution to ethnic problem inside our country. We must decide it, Mr. Sambandan is here with us today, he has not gone to Geneva, We ourselves have not gone there, so let us all get together & solve our problems here in our country.
Mr.Sambandan, leader of Tamil National Alliance said that Ravaya did a good service to the nation. Among the newspapers, which speak to Sinhala people about the due rights of Tamil people is none other than Ravaya. We, Tamil people salute them. The youth of North & South rose against governments, we must find out the real causes and solve their problems, irrespective whether they are Sinhala, Tamil or Muslim. Mr.Nissam Karriyapper spoke on behalf of Muslim Congress leader.