Sri Lankan journalist assaulted by political supporters

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliates the Free Media Movement (FMM) in condemning the assault of a senior journalist in Galle, southern Sri Lanka on July 12. The IFJ demand an immediate investigation into the incident.

Daya Neththasinghe, an environmental journalist and features editor for Sathhanda newspaper, was assaulted by supporters of politician Piyasena Gamage at a temple in Neluwa, Galle on Tuesday, July 12. Neththasinghe was at a discussion about the environmental impact of a power point on invitation of the local authority. He was invited to present his opinions, however he was quickly attacked when he raised negative implications of the mini hydro power plant approved in 2012. Several locals intervened to stop the assault and took Neththasinghe to Neluwa hospital.

According to reports, Neththasinghe has always been vocal about the environment destruction caused by the plant in Dellawa village in Neluwa. Due to the criticism and protests, President Maithripala Sirisena had ordered the Central Environment Authority to prepare a special report, which is believed to have caused friction in the local community.

Seetha Rajanee, the FMM Convener, said: “Attack on Sathhanda journalist is an attack on professional rights of journalists. The FMM insist on a free and fair investigation in to the incident. Legal action should be taken against such incidents making the society aware that these attacks are not a sign of a civilized society.”

“It is very alarming to find assaults and threats still continue on journalists, creating an unsafe and restricted environment to conduct their profession. The FMM is disturbed to witness planned attacks on journalists still continue despite the attempts made to ensure a free media and professional rights of journalists.”

The IFJ said: “The attack on Daya Neththasinghe is a violation of press freedom and freedom of expression. No journalist should be attacked for his opinion. The IFJ is alarmed by the increasing number of attacks on journalists in Sri Lanka despite promises and commitment of the government in press freedom; and firmly believes that failure to act quickly on such incidents would lead to graver situation.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0946 

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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