The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has
called for immediate disciplinary action to be taken after a group of police
officers allegedly assaulted a group of journalists covering a student protest.
IFJ affiliates the Sri Lankan Working Journalists’ Association (SLWJA) and
the Free Media Movement Sri Lanka
(FMM) reported that five journalists covering the Inter
University Students’ Federation demonstration on October 14 in the
capital, Colombo, were attacked after they reported police used undue force to break up
They were assaulted
despite having identified themselves as journalists to police after reporting
that a group of 25 officers were attacking a single protester.
“The IFJ demands that Sri Lanka’s
authorities investigate this gross misuse of violence against journalists who
had clearly identified themselves as reporters and not protestors,” IFJ General
Secretary Aidan White said.
“It is equally
concerning that these students – who by all accounts were exercising their
democratic right to peaceful protest – have also been targeted in such a way.”
The SLWJA and FMM will
protest the attacks with other civil society groups at a rally in Lipton
at noon on October 19. The protest will call on the Inspector General of Police
Mahinda Balasuriya and the Secretary of Defence Gotabhaya Rajapaksa to
investigate the incident and take disciplinary action against any officers
found guilty of professional misconduct.
The five journalists
injured were: Bingun Menaka Gamage of Lankadeepa; Sandaruwan Yatikinda of Neth FM;
Pradeep Dilrukshan from the Daily Mirror; Chamila Karunaratna from Rivira and
Subramaniyam Gunaratnam of Sirasa TV.
The students were
protesting outside the Sri Lankan
Ministry of Education to demand the release of a group of student activists from
Peradeniya University, who were imprisoned after
booing the Minister of Higher Education S.B. Dissanayake on a
recent campus visit. Twenty-one students arrested at the
protest will face court on October 29.
While the right to
protest and freedom of association are both enshrined in the Sri Lankan constitution, the SLWJA believes police who
employ violent tactics do so with the blessing of state authorities.
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific
on +612 9333 0919
represents more than 600,000 journalists in 125 countries
IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific