Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins Sri Lanka’s
five leading organisations of journalists in calling for an immediate inquiry
into the illegal detainment of a senior Jaffna
journalist by supporters of Sri
Lanka’s ruling coalition on February 27.
N. Parameswaran, Jaffna
correspondent for the Daily Mirror, Lankadeepa and the BBC Tamil service, was held by supporters of the Sri Lanka Peoples’
Party (SLPP), a party within the ruling coalition, as he gathered information from
internally displaced peoples (IDPs) from Vanni outside the party’s office in Jaffna.
Parameswaran told the Five Media Collective
(also known as the Sri Lanka Five) that he was detained and threatened as he inquired
into claims that IDPs were being pushed to fill in party membership forms for
the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), the leading party in the ruling coalition,
in exchange for promises of receiving welfare support.
“The detention of Parameswaran
violates the right to information and the right of journalists to do their fundamental
work in gathering information,” IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said.
“The IFJ respectfully appeals to President
Mahinda Rajapaksa, in both his capacity as President and as Media and
Information Minister, to ensure party cadre do not usurp the right to access information,
and to make good on his public statements that police and authorities must inform
him immediately if a journalist is arrested or detained.”
The Five Media Collective said in a
statement that Parameswaran reported being detained by civil supporters of the SLPP,
who took him to SLFP organizer Thilakumara Udugama. His camera and mobile phone
were confiscated, and he reported being threatened.
A senior police officer reportedly refused
to arrest Parameswaran despite Udugama’s demands. Parameswaran was released
after half an hour, and his equipment was returned to him.
Parameswaran has lodged a complaint
at the Jaffna
The IFJ joins the Five Media Collective
in calling for an inquiry into the manner in which Parameswaran was detained.
In the run-up to general elections
in April, the IFJ further requests a public assurance from the President and
Government that all journalists working in Jaffna will be able to conduct their work
without fear of intimidation or threats.
The Five Media Collective comprises the
Free Media Movement (FMM), the
Federation of Media Employees’ Trade Union (FMETU), the Sri Lanka Working
Journalists’ Association (SLWJA), the Sri Lanka Tamil Media Alliance (SLTMA)
and the Sri Lanka Muslim Media Forum (SLMMF).
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific
on +612 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists
in 125 countries worldwide