The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is outraged at reports that a librarian at the state-controlled Sri Lanka Rupavahini Cooperation (SLRC) television station was cut with a razor knife while travelling on public transport on March 5.
Ranjani Aluthge was attacked on a bus by a young person who stabbed her back and shoulder twice before getting off the bus. Aluthge received stitches for her injuries.
According to the Free Media Movement (FMM), an IFJ affiliate, the attack is the fourth violent incident recorded against SLRC journalists and media workers since the beginning of 2008.
On January 25, SLRC news division producer Lal Hemantha Mawalage was attacked with a knife by two men on a motorbike about 11pm. He was admitted to hospital with severe cuts to his right arm. On March 4, Mawalage was threatened by an unidentified person who told him to get his coffin ready.
Two armed assailants entered the house of SLRC media worker Duleep Dushantha on January 29. Not finding him, the attackers threatened his mother with death if she informed the police of the incident.
SLRC assistant director news camera Priyal Ranjith Perera fought off attacks by an unidentified gang who entered his home on February 27. The attackers fled.
The three journalists were involved in an incident on December 27 when the Minister for Labour, Mervyn Silva, stormed into the SLRC with a group of people and assaulted the news director.
Another three journalists from MTV network who were also involved in covering the December 27 incident have reportedly logged a complaint at Maharagama police station saying that they had received credible information that “underworld persons” were plotting to harm them.
The FMM reports that some journalists who played a leading role in protests about the December incident have gone into hiding.
“Attacks on journalists and media organisation staff for reporting on matters of public interest issue are completely unacceptable,” said IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park.
“By trying to create an atmosphere of fear and violence to fracture the media community, the perpetrators are undermining the value of freedom of expression for all people in Sri Lanka.”
The IFJ joins the FMM in calling on Sri Lanka’s Government and authorities to act on repeated requests for immediate and open investigations into these attacks. No perpetrators have been brought to justice to date.
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries