Tuesday, April 06, 2010

MBC/MTV Attack: How do you react when the office is stoned?

by Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema - A staff member at MTV/MBC retracts how he and collegues reacted when hail of stones hit them last week.

For Rodrigo, a news manager in the Sirasa news room, and everyone inside the Sirasa network building the attack left them shocked and unable to figure out what had happened until the lapse of a few minutes after the attack.

When Rodrigo’s day in office commenced at 9.30 a.m., as in other days, there was nothing unusual about it. He went about preparing for the evening news bulletin and attended the daily de-brief attended by the station heads around 3 p.m.

After sorting out the news details, Rodrigo was back at his seat when everyone had heard some noises from the direction of the head office, the Capital Maharajah building, around 3.30 p.m.

“Unable to understand exactly what was going on, some employees started to run towards the fire exits. However, everyone was asked to remain in their floors,” he said.

About six heads from the news room including Rodrigo had then walked towards the entrance to their building, which was next to the head office building.

“There was protest outside the headquarters building and suddenly everything turned violent with the protestors pelting stones at the car park and the head office windows,” Rodrigo recounted, adding that they had immediately started to make calls to the emergency numbers including the police.

“’We are under attack,’ we said. The protest continued and a group of protestors started to walk towards out office and we ran for shelter. We ran to our gate.”

By this time Rodrigo started to see some of his colleagues and a few more from the head office injured by the stones thrown by the angry mob.

“The head office was like a war zone with broken glass bottles and stones strewn around broken windows and damaged vehicles. The vehicles in our car park however were moved away as soon as the stones were thrown to our compound,” Rodrigo said.

With the protestors moving forward towards them armed with stones and poles, Rodrigo and his colleagues had to think quickly to defend themselves.

“We had to protect ourselves and we had no option but to retaliate. We took the stones, bottles and poles thrown towards us by the protestors and threw it back at them in self defence,” he said.
About five minutes into the attack, the police had arrived at the scene.

“The police arrested 16 persons before our eyes. Gradually the protestors started to back down.”

It was now time for Rodrigo and his colleagues to return to the news room to prepare the breaking news bulletin.

“We had to assess the damage to do the story. Even by then we were still trying to figure out what had happened. The attack was unexpected. Even the still cameras in our head office building were damaged in the attack. Till everything was sorted out we had to prepare the initial breaking news bulletin,” Rodrigo said.

While Rodrigo and a few others prepared the breaking news bulletin, the others started to make the necessary arrangements to face another possible attack.

“Every one was gearing for another attack. We did not know what had happened and we thought they would attack us again. We looked at a second attack as well. Even now we are geared to face another attack. The staff has been made aware of the steps to be taken in case of another attack,” Rodrigo said.

For Rodrigo, the Monday evening attack was not the first time he had faced a violent attack against his institution.

“The attack on Sirasa in 2008 was scarier than this. In 2008, our Pannipitiya station was literally converted to a battle field. While fires raged on one side, the bomb squad had to be called to defuse the live grenades that were thrown into the premises. While trying to help douse the fire and salvage what ever we could from the studio, we had to attend to our injured colleagues as well,” Rodrigo recounted.

However, regardless of what attack may come against the institution, Rodrigo and his colleagues seem resolute in their stance of fighting back.
“We will continue regardless of all these attacks. We are committed to what we do,” Rodrigo said.

© The Sunday Leader

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
Bookmark and Share

No comments:

Post a Comment

© 2009 - 2014 Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka

  © Blogger template 'Fly Away' by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP