The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is outraged
at continuing threats against the wife of journalist Gamini Pushpakumara, in
exile from Sri Lanka
since April after being dismissed as a producer with the state-owned Sri Lanka
Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC) in January.
calls on the Sri Lankan authorities to identify those responsible for threats
against Pushpakumara’s wife, Waruni Balasooriya, and to guarantee her safety,”
IFJ General Secretary Aidan White
In July, the IFJ noted earlier
threats made to the life of Balasooriya, who remains in Sri Lanka.
Balasooriya lodged a complaint at a local police station, but by all accounts
it was not acted upon.
has since shifted house for her own safety. However, on the evening of
September 2 she had two unidentified visitors who spoke menacingly and vowed to
find and kill Pushpakumara.
The two reportedly
referred to Pushpakumara as a “traitor” and a “Sinhala Tiger” – in reference to
the Tamil Tigers who were defeated in 2009 after a long civil war. He was
accused of sending video footage and photographs of the last phases of the war
to overseas media organisations with intent to entangle the Government of Sri Lanka in
war crimes trials.
threatening visitors accused Pushpakumara of acting in concert with General
Sarath Fonseka, who was commander of the Sri Lankan army in the last phase of
the war and challenged President Mahinda Rajapakse in presidential elections in
January. Fonseka was arrested shortly after he lost the election in a polarised
national vote, and recently stripped of his rank, pension and all benefits by a
military court which found him guilty of conduct unbecoming.
dismissal followed his leadership of a movement of SLRC staff demanding that
prescribed norms on fair coverage for all candidates be followed by the state
broadcaster, which was accused of tilting strongly toward the incumbent
learns that Balasooriya has again complained to her local police station about
the latest threats to her life, and encountered an uncooperative attitude from officials.
of Pushpakumara’s wife is a key indicator of the commitment of President
Rajapakse’s regime, now invested with a fresh mandate, to restore the civil
liberties that were seriously eroded during the civil war,” White said.
actions as a leader of the program producers’ association in SLRC were in line with
prescribed norms of fairness in election coverage. Threats implying he was
involved in the discovery of visual evidence of atrocities by Sri Lankan armed
forces is consistent with a pattern of victimisation that began as retribution
for his stand on a matter of professional ethics.”
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific
on +612 9333 0919
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