The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins Sri Lankan affiliate the Free Media Movement (FMM) in condemning the role of security forces in the cancellation of a yet another workshop for journalists’ in Gampaha, Sri Lanka, on June 7.
According to reports, the three-day workshop for Tamil-language media in North-Eastern Sri Lanka was cancelled after a group of miscreants warned to disrupt it. The workshop theme was investigative reporting arising from recommendations from the Reconciliation Commission.
The FMM has advised that instead of ensuring the journalists rights to association and assembly, the police advised the organizer Transparency International Sri Lanka to leave the venue and hotel. The participants were moved to the Galadari Hotel, Colombo, for safety but the management of the five-star hotel asked them to leave the hotel at midnight after receiving threats.
According to the FMM, this is not the first reports of intimidation to stop Tamil journalism training programs in Sri Lanka. The same media workshop was also abandoned due to intimidation by the military earlier in May in Giritale, the Polnnaruwa district of North Central Province. In January this year, another two-day training for Tamil journalists organized by the Search for Common Ground in the same district was abandoned after a group of Buddhist monks disrupted proceedings.
The FMM said: “All these developments show that suppression of independent media in Sri Lanka is a well planned strategy. The Government has failed to carry out any independent investigation on continuing violations of freedom of expression rights in the country.”
“The FMM calls on the government to initiate a credible investigation on this blatant violation of rights of the journalists and to bring the culprits to book. The FMM also calls on all democratic forces to come forward to safeguard basic freedoms of the people of Sri Lanka, including the freedom of expression.”
The IFJ said: “This pattern of threat and intimidation is designed to silence the media and ultimately block the public’s right to know. The lack of due investigation in this string of incidents is the reason Sri Lanka remains high on the world’s watch list for impunity. Those incidents have deteriorated the freedom of expression and weakened democratic governance, thus we urge the Sri Lankan government to immediately act to stop such activities and allow media-related training for the development of the independent media.”
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0950
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