RSF_en News Organisation January 13, 2021 Find out more July 13, 2015 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Press Council’s revival threatens media freedom in Sri Lanka News Sri LankaAsia – Pacific News Sri Lanka: RSF signs joint statement on attacks against human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists News Sri Lanka: tamil reporter held on absurd terrorism charge Follow the news on Sri Lanka Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka (JDS) are alarmed by the new president’s decision to revive the Press Council – a controversial body that gave the authorities a great deal of scope to coerce the media – and urge him to create an independent council that guarantees a system of media self-regulation. Sri LankaAsia – Pacific Help by sharing this information President Maithripala Sirisena’s government announced the revival of the Press Council on 2 July, six month after his election victory ended years of autocratic rule by the Rajapaksa family and fuelled democratic hopes in Sri Lanka. The council allowed the authorities to impose severe sanctions, including imprisonment, on journalists.“By reviving this mechanism for harassing the Sri Lankan media, President Sirisena is dashing the hopes raised by his election and is again placing the media under a permanent threat of authoritarian abuses,” said Benjamin Ismaïl, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk.“We urge the president to rescind this decision and instead to begin a complete overhaul of the Press Council with the aim of turning it into an entity that guarantees media independence.”JDS added: “The government’s move to re-enact the controversial legislation reinforces serious and legitimate fears, as the desire to curtail media freedom always reflects anti-democratic intentions.”Created in 1973, the Press Council was much used during Mahinda Rajapaksa’s presidency, which was brought to an end by Sirisena’s victory in January. During his campaign, Sirisena pledged to support media freedom and to end the harassment of journalists.RSF already voiced concern about a resumption of intimidation of Tamil journalists in April, when several journalists from the north of the country were questioned and in some cases charged or detained by the Colombo police.After Sirisena’s 8 January election victory, RSF and JDS urged him to end his predecessor’s policy of violence against journalists and to combat impunity for such violence.Sri Lanka is ranked 165th out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index. to go further July 29, 2020 Find out more Receive email alerts Sri Lanka: Journalist manhandled by notorious police inspector currently on trial July 15, 2020 Find out more
Dan Lieb, president of the New Jersey Historical Diver’s Association, was the man for the job.Teacups that were found after the discovery of Ship Aurora.“It’s amazing that in only 22 feet of water, something as fragile as china, packed in with hardware and coal and asphalt, actually managed to survive over a hundred years of hurricanes and nor’easters,” he said.The organization, which is an assembly of amateur historians and archaeologists, has aided in the discovery of unidentified wrecks off the Jersey coast since 1992.Lieb conducted all the behind-the-scenes work, such as framing and measuring the vessel, while using his background in historical research to track the ship’s roots all the way back to Maine, where it was built in 1824.Some of the artifacts were sold off to keep the recovery expedition afloat, yet Filippone had one ultimate goal in mind throughout the process.“I had the policy when we were working it that I wanted it to go to a museum,” he said. “Anything that was unique would go to the museum, anything two or more we’d split up; this way, I wanted to keep it intact.”For Harber, he believes that it was a perfect storm that brought the trio together.“We were very lucky to be available, and the weather was right for the initial work on it,” he said. “We had a clear stretch of weather, the visibility wasn’t bad, and we got a lot of work done in a short amount of time.” Transporting the china back to port presented its own set of challenges.“We had all of this china on the boat, and no way to really secure it on our boat,” Anthony said, grinning to Filippone. “And the ride home, you had to be careful or you’d break half of it, because he doesn’t know how to drive.”While the china surely peaked their interest, other meaningful and historical pieces from the wreckage were recovered, ranging from construction tools to pre-Civil War surgical equipment.After a late night of diving, Kenny Harber shows off some blue and green china excavated from the hull of the Ship Aurora.Each man had his own favorite find. Harber’s was a fully intact brass octant, a nautical tool used to measure distances on the sea. Anthony laid claim to a brass chronometer, which he claimed could work to this day if given to the right clockmaker.For Filippone, he recovered the medallion of Stephen Thomas, one of the ship’s passengers, which was made to commemorate his service in the Battle of Trafalgar.The three-man crew received help from locals who accompanied them on expedition dives. Of those who helped, one was crucial in the identification of the ship. After the divers went public with their discovery in 2007, they were connected with Debbie Whitcraft, who was in the process of finalizing the Museum of New Jersey Maritime History.Along with family and friends receiving some of the china, and the guys keeping a few pieces for themselves as well, nearly all of the recovered tableware now rests in that museum in Beach Haven on Long Beach Island.The book, which Filippone has titled “Tattered Rails,” in reference to a newspaper article’s description of the site the morning after the ship sank, is paddling on to the next phase.“Joe and I wrote the script, but I sent it down to Beach Haven and they’re going to put it together,” he said, during a Sunday morning coffee hour with his partners. “Right now, I don’t know how big this book is going to be, because we have 447 pictures, but I want it to be intact; everything possible about the ship into one.”“I think it’s a wonderful idea to do the book, I think it’s a really, really good idea,” said Lieb. “It’s a wreck that nobody had ever heard of certainly in recent memory, or certainly over the past 150 years.” By Jay CookHIGHLANDS – That old saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” for the most part, rings true. Yet for three local scuba divers, that adage could instead read “one man’s wreck is another man’s treasure.”Gary Filippone, Joe Anthony and Kenny Harber are turning their diving expedition between 2002 and 2007 into a book, in which they’ll talk about how they took hundreds of boat rides and retrieved thousands of artifacts from a Sandy Hook shipwreck.A Highlands resident and veteran wreck diver with 43 years of scuba experience under his weight belt, Filippone claims he has never seen anything like what he first came upon on July 1, 2002: a shipwreck 1,200 feet off the shores of Sandy Hook, in only 19 feet of water during low tide.What he encountered was Ship Aurora, a 106-foot shipping vessel, bound for New York City from Liverpool, England. The ship sank on Nov. 27, 1827, after a storm threw the three-mast ship off course. Of the roughly 40 voyagers on board that night, six crew members perished as they went down with the ship.Immediately after passing through the tolls into Sandy Hook, Filippone used Area A, which has a fenced-in parking lot, on the barrier peninsula as a reference for finding the wreck each trip out.What was left in the high-dynamic area, which has a high rate of ground swells and rough waters, were the remains of the ship sans a mast and sails, most likely cut loose during the storm.“I believe this is one of the top 10 American wrecks in the country, talking historically,” Filippone said over an early morning cup of coffee at Water Witch Coffee in Highlands, where the trio met each morning before their dives.Using Filippone’s 23-foot center console boat named “Sea Monkey,” he and Anthony, a resident of Atlantic Highlands, began to further investigate the ship only a week later. Filippone brought his spear gun down, and after missing a shot and it clanking off of Ship Aurora’s hull, they noticed something shining in the sand.The recovery of artifacts from Ship Aurora.“Picture a sand mound in your head,” Anthony said. “And then you just take a big fan and blow the top of that off; and all you see is blue and green edges stacked for feet.”Those edges turned out to be roughly 2,200 total pieces of Staffordshire and shell edge china, surrounded by mounds of roofing slate manufactured for New York City rooftops.“You wouldn’t have thought that there was much of anything in there, except the ship was a deep hull,” said Harber, who also lives in Atlantic Highlands and is the coffee shop’s property owner.He was surprised by how much was waiting to be found inside.From May through October for the next five years, the three divers worked Ship Aurora, excavating and removing thousands of teacups, pitchers, plates, platters and bowls; and it was no piece of cake.Using milk crates with rope and lift bags, the china was hoisted from the sea where it had rested in nearly perfect condition for 175 years.