Kongahage claims Channel 4 tricked him, distorted interview



Sarath Kongahage

Easter Sunday controversy:

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Former Ambassador to Germany, Switzerland and ex-High Commissioner in South Africa, Sarath Kongahage, yesterday (12) alleged that British television Channel 4 had tricked him into discussing political developments with the focus on the 2019 Easter Sunday carnage.

Claiming that the Channel 4 programme didn’t reflect what he had said in a two-hour interview on 22 Dec., 2022, at his Madiwela residence, the one-time UNP National List MP said that he had agreed to their request, believing the London-based ITN handled the programme.

Kongahage called a media briefing at Sanda TV of the Sri Lanka Foundation to explain his participation in the latest C4 episode, amidst repeated calls for an international investigation on the basis of accusations that Maj. Gen. Suresh Sallay, serving as Minister Counsellor at the Sri Lankan Mission, in Malaysia, conspired with National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) and former LTTE cadre Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan aka Pilleyan (now a State Minister) to mount the Easter Sunday attacks.

Kongahage said that he had not realised that it was a Channel 4 programme until it was telecast.

Kongahage found fault with Opposition and Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) leader Sajith Premadasa, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and those who threw their weight behind unsubstantiated allegations propagated by C4. Kongahage, who held several key posts in the media field as Chairman, Rupavahini, and Director Sirasa, warned of dire consequences unless all political parties, represented in Parliament, reached consensus on post-war reconciliation process without further delay.

The ex-MP alleged that the C4 project was aimed at causing turmoil at a time the country was experiencing severe economic difficulties.

Commenting on the spate of killings and attacks during Mahinda Rajapaksa’s tenure as the President, Kongahage said the country was paying a heavy price for the failure on the part of successive governments to punish those responsible for the assassination of Sunday Leader Editor Lasantha Wickrematunga and the reprehensible attacks on journalists Upali Tennakoon, Keith Noyhar and Poddala Jayantha. Those responsible should be punished, regardless of their standing in the society, he said.

Kongahage strongly criticised President Gotabaya Rajapaksa for releasing Staff Sergeant Sunil Ratnayake, found guilty of killing eight Tamil civilians, in 2000, in the Jaffna peninsula. Such rash decisions contributed to the overall deterioration of Sri Lanka’s standing in the eyes of the international community, the former Ambassador said.