Journalists Injured in Attack on Political Leader in Sri Lanka

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is

outraged to learn of an attack on journalists at the Bandaranaike

International

Airport at Katunayake near Colombo on December 7.

 

According to

information received from IFJ affiliate the Sri Lanka

Working Journalist Association (SLWJA), two journalists – Shanta Wijesuriya of

the news portal Lanka-e-News and

Prema Lal of Sirasa TV – were injured in the attack, whose principal target was

the leader of the New Left Front, Wickramabahu Karunaratne, as he returned from

an overseas trip.

 

Attackers

were heard accusing Karunaratne of treason for having spoken of Sri Lanka’s

recent human rights record at several speaking engagements during his travel.

 

The two

journalists were assigned by their news organisations to cover the return of

the political leader, a candidate in the nation’s presidential election last

January. Sri Lanka’s Free

Media Movement (FMM), also an IFJ affiliate, believes that the attack on the

two journalists was a “well coordinated action aimed at ensuring the media

remain silent”.

 

The SLWJA

has pointed out that after the initial attack, carried out in the presence of

police personnel, the attackers pursued the vehicle in which the two

journalists were travelling, obstructed its path and continued raining blows on

the two.

 

“We fully

endorse the call made by the SLWJA and FMM for civil society to stand up and

condemn these latest manifestations of political intolerance”, IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said.

 

“Though we

have no expectation, given the recent track record, of a serious official

investigation into this outrage, we hope that the media community and civil

society will join hands to fix responsibility and enforce accountability”.

 

For

further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +612 9333 0919

 

The IFJ

represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries

 

Find the IFJ

on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific

 

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