Media Release: Sri Lanka October
New Level of
Danger for Sri Lanka’s Journalists as Threats Mount
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is alarmed at
widespread and frequent verbal and physical attacks against journalists and press
freedom defenders in Sri
Lanka as the country’s internal conflict continues.
According to the Free Media Movement (FMM), an IFJ affiliate,
journalists in the troubled Eastern Province and those raising voices
unfavourable to either party in the violent confrontations between Sri Lankan
Government’s with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) are in grave
latest assault on media freedom, a
series of letters were reportedly received by human rights defenders and
lawyers associated with the current trial of senior Tamil journalist J.S. Tissainayagam,
the first journalist to be charged under anti-terrorism laws for his published
reportedly warned any supporters of Tissainayagam
or other defenders of human rights cases that they would be summarily killed or
suffer life-threatening injuries. The source of the letter, “Mahason Balakaya” (Mahason Regiment) is an
unknown group, the FMM reports.
In August, a supporter of the Tamil Makal Viduthalai Pulikal
(TMVP) Karuna faction threatened journalist Thakshila Jayasena from Sandeshaya, the BBC Sinhala Service,
when covering a protest campaign by the United National Party, Sri
Lanka’s main opposition party.
In September, journalist Radhika Devakumar,
a provincial correspondent of the Tamil daily Thinakaran newspaper,
survived an assassination attempt in her home. This incident is reportedly
linked to her former position as media coordinator for Eastern Province Chief
Minister Sinvaesathurai Chandrakanthan.
18, an article in the
state-controlled Dinamina daily accused
ten journalists of working for the Tamil Tigers and allegedly reporting
distorted interpretations on the humanitarian crisis facing the Sri Lankan
“For any hope of democratic stability to
return to this now conflict-devastated country,
journalists and photographers must have the right of passage to report on the
war independently and disseminate information locally and internationally,” IFJ Asia-Pacific
are now more than ever being actively targeted for their reporting. Moves by any
party to incite further violence against the media are not only irresponsible
joins the FMM in calling upon the
Inspector General of the Police to take the lead in dismantling the growing
attitude of disregard for journalists’ safety and professional duty by
demonstrating that any perpetrator of such violence will face justice.
denouncing the trend of attacks and threats will the Government be able to
restore public confidence in Sri
Lanka at such a fragile time.
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919
represents over 600,000 journalists in
120 countries worldwide