Arson Attack on TV Station in Sri Lanka Must be Investigated


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.


According to

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

state agencies.


“President Mahinda

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.


The Siyatha

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.


“We expected

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.”


IFJ sources

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


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