07/10/2009, 00.00
SRI LANKA
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Meeting for Freedom and democracy in Sri Lanka six months after journalist assassinated

by Melani Manel Perera
Some 300 people gather in Colombo’s New Town Hall to remember Lasantha Wickramathunga and protest against the lack of freedom of expression in the country. Since 2007 10 journalists have been assassinated, 27 assaulted, 11 imprisoned and six abducted.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – A small crowd of about 300 people met to remember Lasantha Wickramathunga, a Sri Lankan journalist who was slain on 8 January. Media people, civil rights activists, opposition politicians and ordinary citizens gathered in the capital’s New Town Hall six months after he was murdered. His case remains unsolved.

Opposition deputy leader Karu Jayasooriya remembered Lasantha’s battles against corruption and for civil rights, a senior Journalist Mr. Dharmasiri Lankapeli said that “if he was here among us, he would write about the situation of war refugees in the IDP camps in the North.”

The fate of the Sunday Leader editor symbolises the struggle to defend freedom of expression in the island nation.

Jayasooriya reminded his audience that since 2007 violence against journalists had increased in Sri Lanka: 10 journalists have been assassinated, 27 assaulted, 11 imprisoned and six abducted. Only in two cases have the culprits been arrested.

“It is very hard to understand where the country is going,” the opposition leader said.

For the 300 people who came together at the New Town Hall, President Mahinda Rajapaksa is trying to silence all forms of opposition to government policies.

Hence they urge the population to “unite to re-establish democracy, freedom and social justice which is what the country needs.”

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