Media Release: Sri
August 26 2013
The International Federation of Journalists
(IFJ) joins partners and affiliates, the Free Media Movement (FMM) and the Sri
Lanka Working Journalists’ Association (SLWJA) in strongly condemning the armed
home invasion inflicted on a journalist couple in Colombo just before dawn on August
FMM and SLWJA report that a group of masked men,
armed with knives and what seemed to be hand grenades, forced their way into
the home of Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema and Romesh Abeywickrema. The men
ransacked the house, took away valuable items including jewelry and, curiously,
closely examined files and documents belonging to the couple.
Mandana is associate editor of the Sunday Leader, and her husband Romesh is
business editor of the same newspaper.
After being tipped off by the couple, police reportedly
challenged the intruders as were leaving the home, shooting one intruder dead
and capturing another two.
Police have described the incident as armed robbery,
but FMM convenor Sunil Jayasekara has suggested the interest shown by the
intruders in the couple’s documents, indicated another motive.
A few days before the armed intrusion the tyres
of the Abeywickrema family vehicle were slashed and the body of a dead cat
dumped on their door step. And just prior to these events, a newspaper known
for pro-government sympathies had been attacking Mandana Ismail, describing her
The IFJ Asia-Pacific said: “We are deeply
concerned at these events which bear an eerie resemblance to past incidents of
personal vilification against journalists culminating in a physical attack.
“We call upon Sri Lanka’s Ministry of
Information to urge restraint among the staff of state-owned media outlets and
for them to cease the campaigns of attack and vilification against independent,
“Further, we call on the police to determine the
genuine motives behind the attack and prosecute those responsible,” the IFJ
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0950
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