The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is deeply concerned by the continued targeted attacks on the Udayan newspaper group, with two separate incidents of intrusion and intimidation by armed forces at Udayan offices within a three-day period.
“The continued attacks on the Udayan newspaper group are appalling,” IFJ President Christopher Warren said.
“It seems clear from the number of separate incidents of intimidation and violence in the last five months that the newspaper group is openly being targeted by both sides of the conflict,” Warren said.
According to IFJ affiliate, the Free Media Movement (FMM), six armed persons entered the Udayan newspaper office in Jaffna on September 7 during curfew hours, threatened the staff and handed over a statement to be published in the newspaper.
Three days later, on September 10, armed men reportedly entered the offices but were stopped by the police security guard, only to be released with no charges laid against them.
This continued harassment of the Udayan group comes after an Udayan delivery driver was shot dead while distributing newspapers on August 15, two Udayan warehouses were destroyed in an arson attack on August 8, and on May 5 several armed people stormed the offices and shot dead two employees, injuring two others.
“This sort of targeted terrorisation threatens the very existence of an independent media in Sri Lanka,” Warren said.
“It is imperative, now more than ever, that swift action is taken by the government of Sri Lanka to ensure this sort of bullying, harassment, and violence does not continue,” he said.
The IFJ, the organisation representing more than 500,000 journalists in over 115 countries, gives its full support to the employees of the Udayan group for their continued determination to inform the public despite relentless pressures and concern for their own personal safety.
The IFJ demands the Sri Lankan government ensure increased security for Udayan employees, and to severely punish any person or group who attempts to influence or harm the media through violence or intimidation.
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific +61 2 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 115 countries