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  • » 01/24/2007, 00.00

    SRI LANKA

    Protest against press censorship

    Melani Manel Perera

    Eight journalists are killed in 2006; many more, Tamil and Sinhalese alike, are threatened or attacked. Many choose exile.

    Colombo (AsiaNews) – Press freedom in Sri Lanka is under siege with both Tamil and Sinhalese journalists threatened, newspaper offices raided by police and people arrested or even killed, this according to the Free Media Movement (FMM) whose members as well as members of the national media demonstrated in front of Fort Station, Colombo’s main railway station,

    Protest organisers demanded real investigations into several violations of press freedom that have occurred in the past three months.

    They noted that last year eight journalists were killed, both Tamil and Sinhalese; that in the last three months, two Tamil journalists were arrested; that five other survived attacks; that ten editors and managing editors have received death threats in Colombo, not to mention countless others who are constantly harassed.

    Some 300 journalists from various media companies, local and international, took part in the initiative. Relatives of some of the victims were also present.

    After the demonstration, FFM organiser Sunanda Deshapriya lamented that many journalists have had to leave the country fearing for their lives.

    Several media organisations were also represented: the Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association, the Federation of Media Employees Trade Unions, the Sri Lanka Muslim Media Forum and la Sri Lanka Tamil Journalists Alliance.

    Demonstrators called on the authorities to conduct thorough investigations into some recent cases like the two-month detention of Tamil women journalists arrested without charge; the army publication ban on some Tamil papers and weeklies; the red tape imposed on a new Sinhalese newspaper and the “unofficial” censorship imposed on media and journalists working in Jaffna, northern Sri Lanka.

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    See also

    25/02/2010 SRI LANKA
    Solidarity for missing journalist who opposed president
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    13/01/2012 SRI LANKA
    Government criticised on anniversary of journalist’s murder
    A rally is held to remember Lasantha Wickrematunga, assassinated on 8 January 2009. After three years, the police has not yet arrested the culprits. Human rights activists, civil society representatives and opposition politicians blame President Rajapaksa for the journalist’s death.

    18/07/2009 SRI LANKA
    Global media demand free access to refugee camps
    An open letter to the President of Sri Lanka in defence of press freedom in the country. Requests also for the safety of journalists in the regions of the north, the creation of an office for the investigation of crimes against the media and the release of three reporters in jail since March 2008.

    20/01/2011 SRI LANKA
    Sri Lanka journalists seek justice in protest against government
    Two years since the murder of Lasantha Wickramatunga, yet no one has been arrested. Journalists, opposition politicians and representatives of civil society point the finger at the government: "The State protects the guilty."

    11/06/2009 SRI LANKA
    Silent march through the streets of Colombo in defence of freedom of expression
    The Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association leads march against the prevailing climate of intimidation; it accuses paramilitary groups of being responsible for violence against journalists. On 1 June journalist Poddala Jayantha, who works for Sinhalese-language news paper ‘Silumina’, was briefly seized and beaten.



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