IFJ Demands Immediate End to Harassment of Media Workers in Sri Lanka

Jun. 03, 2008

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is shocked at reports of another violent attack on media workers in Sri Lanka and demands local authorities to fulfill their responsibility to respond to and prevent such attacks.

According to the Free Media Movement (FMM), an IFJ affiliate, a camera crew working for Sirasa TV was ambushed by unidentified attackers as they were attempting to film preparations for the Vesak (Buddhist religious event) in Kiribathgoda town on May 19.

The victims, identified by the FMM as Sirasa TV producer Lalith Rajapaksha, cameraman Chanadana Amarasinghe, and driver P.P. Kostha, were reportedly inside their vehicle when the gang confiscated a camera and used it as a weapon to destroy the vehicle’s windows and windscreen.

P.P. Kostha was hospitalised with serious injuries following the attack.

The FMM confirms that police were within view of the incident and did not intervene to protect the lives and property of the journalists.

Kiribathgoda town falls inside Labour Minister Mervyn Silva’s Kelaniya constituency. According to the FMM, Minister Silva had previously warned Sirasa TV media personnel not to cover events in Kiribathgoda.

The attack came in the same week as defence reporter and senior journalist for The Nation Keith Noyahr was abducted and brutally bashed on May 22.

Another senior journalist, J.S. Tissainayagam, remains in the custody of the Terrorist Investigation Division of the Sri Lankan police following his arrest on March 7 and his appeals continue to be delayed by the Sri Lankan courts.

The IFJ expresses its solidarity with the hundreds of journalists and press freedom advocates who joined in a peaceful demonstration at Kollupitiya Junction in Colombo on May 23 to protest the continuing human rights violations and attacks on media freedom in Sri Lanka.

Organised by media rights groups including the FMM, the demonstration sends a clear message to the Sri Lankan government and to all perpetrators of violence against the Sri Lankan media to immediately end attacks and harassment of media workers.

For further information contact International Federation of Journalists Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries

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