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  • » 11/26/2007, 00.00

    SRI LANKA

    “Continuing trend” towards stifling free media

    Melani Manel Perera

    Following an arson attack against the offices of Leader publications, which puts out papers critical of the government, Bishop Duleep De Chickera releases special communiqué. He appeals to all religious leaders not to remain silent and defends freedom of expression as necessary for the well-being of democracy.

    Colombo (AsiaNews) – “The continuing trend to silence independent media has already reached dangerous proportions,” said Duleep De Chickera, Anglican bishop of Colombo, following the latest arson attack on November 21 against the offices of Leaders Publications which publishes English-language papers like Sunday Leader and Morning Leader as well as Sinhala-paper Irudina Sinhala.

    “The well planned and executed arson attack on the Sunday Leader Press came as a shock to the nation. This must be seen as yet another calculated attempt in a trend to stifle the free media of this country,” said Bishop De Chickera.

    A media that can freely voice dissent, advocate freedom of expression and the right to information and engage in a discourse of critique, is indispensable for the well-being of a democratic and civilised nation at all times,” he added. “It is absolutely crucial in times of violence, war, social suspicion and instability.”

    Furthermore, he condemns the atmosphere of “impunity” in which these “brazen criminal acts” can take place.

    For Bishop De Chickera all religious leaders have a responsibility to speak out against the situation.

    I consequently call upon all responsible religious bodies and groups of Sri Lankans to condemn this act and call for a free investigation and indictment of the perpetrators.”

    For his part President Mahinda Rajapakse has pledged a quick investigation into the events of November 21.

    In the last two years as the conflict between rebels and the army escalated in the northern and eastern parts of the country, journalists and people working in Sri Lanka’s media have been the object of violence, including abductions, disappearances and death threats.

    The three papers published by Leader Publications have often criticised Rajapakse’s administration for suppressing democratic rights and favouring private interests and the war effort.

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    See also

    13/01/2009 SRI LANKA
    Strong anti-government protests at funeral of journalist murdered in Colombo
    More than 8000 people take part in the funeral of Lasantha Manilal Wickramatunga, editor of the Sunday Leader newspaper. “Waves of anger, fear and desperation” are sweeping “across the country,” says Colombo bishop. Everyone wants to know who is behind the murder. President Rajapaksa blames international elements for the assassination, claiming that it was carried out to eclipse the country’s military victories against Tamil Tigers.

    18/01/2008 SRI LANKA
    Christian leaders slam escalating violence against civilians
    Sri Lanka’s Bishops’ Conference and the Anglican bishop of Colombo express concern over last Wednesday’s bombing in Buttala that killed 27, al civilians. They call on both government and rebels to put a stop to the violence and go back to talks. Instead President Rajapakse asks for patience in order to launch a final offensive.

    07/04/2008 SRI LANKA
    Military retaliates after suicide bomb kills minister
    Air force attacks Tamil rebel base. A bomb at the start of a marathon run near Colombo kills Highways and Road Development Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, a Catholic, and former Olympian Karunatane. Altogether 15 are dead.

    27/09/2016 10:28:00 SRI LANKA
    Body of the journalist killed for criticizing government to be exhumed

    Lasantha Wickrematunge was killed in 2009 in broad daylight on his way to work. He had been a stalwart critic of the corruption of the government led by President Rajapaksa, human rights violations and the war against the Tamil Tigers. His tomb is guarded, to prevent retaliation of his killers who are still at large.


     



    13/01/2010 SRI LANKA
    No justice for Lasantha, a year after the journalist’s murder
    Lasantha was assassinated in his car in broad daylight on 8 January 2009. A year later, hundreds of journalists gather to remember him and slam the government for its inaction in tracking down the culprits. In Sri Lanka, tens of journalists have been assaulted or forced to flee the country.



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