The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is
outraged at an arson attack on the Siyatha TV station and radio broadcast
facilities of the Voice of Asia Network in Sri Lanka
during the early hours of July 30.
information from IFJ affiliates, the broadcaster’s offices in central Colombo were attacked by a
group of 12 to 15 men. They held two journalists at gunpoint and reportedly
made staff kneel, before flinging petrol bombs into the facility’s control room.
Two journalists were injured and the control room was gutted.
and observers allege that the attack, which occurred close to the main hub of
the Sri Lankan Government and its
principal security wings, could not have occurred without the tacit approval of
Rajapakse and his government must reverse their failure to prevent attacks on
the media and act now to investigate a string of incidents, including the
attack on Siyatha TV, the worrying disappearance Prageeth Eknaligoda in January, prior
physical threats against others, and the forced exile of a number of Sri Lanka’s journalists,” IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said.
TV and radio stations are owned by a businessman who backed former Sri Lankan army commander Sarath Fonseka in the
presidential contest in January against incumbent Mahinda Rajapakse. Following
Rajapakse’s victory, the owner left the country with his immediate family,
reportedly on account of threats to his safety.
“The IFJ is shocked
and outraged at this attack, which is consistent with the unenviable record acquired
by Sri Lanka through the
last few years of its bitter civil war, as one of the most dangerous places in
which to work in the media,” White said.
though that with the end of the civil war, there would be credible moves to
effect a national process of reconciliation and fix accountability for past
crimes against journalism.”
report that the Siyatha group also ran a Sinhala language newspaper, Siyatha,
which shut down a month ago due to political and economic pressure. A leading
journalist from the newspaper has subsequently sought refuge abroad rather than
risk attack and possible prosecution.
further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific
on +612 9333 0919
represents more than 600,000 journalists in 125 countries
IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific