The President of the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) of Sri Lanka has issued a direct threat to a journalist and publicly warned the association was compiling a ‘traitors’ list of journalists’.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate the Free Media Movement (FMM), Sri Lanka in condemning this malicious threat against media workers in Sri Lanka and demands a probe into the professional conduct of the body.
GMOA president Dr Anuruddha Padeniya, when contacted by a journalist of the state-owned English weekend newspaper Sunday Observer for his opinion on strike held on August 3, said that the association was compiling a list of journalists who betray the country. He added: “You should be ashamed of doing such a job. If I were you, I would stay home and cultivate rather than work for a paper like yours. I know you must be recording this. That is good. Let others in your newspaper also listen to this.”
C Dodawatta, the FMM convenor, said: “Although the GMOA had the right to respond according to their views, it is hard to believe that the leadership of a responsible professional body could threaten the respective journalist. It is sad to note although the GMOA could struggle democratically for their rights, similar to any other professional body, they are insensitive to media freedom, which is an equal democratic right.”
The FMM added that the mention of the “traitors list” was critical in that context. It said: “Although ethically journalists could be judged according to their practice, if a certain journalist is named as a traitor, we believe it is taking an effort to threaten the media.”
The IFJ said: “The IFJ expresses concern over public comments by one of Sri Lanka’s peak medical bodies. The fact that you have the leader of this association issuing statements about nationalism and assuaging threats of traitorism against journalists is entirely unacceptable. The IFJ demands that the Sri Lankan authorities probe the GMOA leader conduct and take necessary disciplinary action to ensure that the rights of journalists as citizens and as media are respected.”
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0946
The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries
Find the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific
Find the IFJ on Facebook: www.facebook.com/IFJAsiaPacific