Death Threats to Journalist’s Family in Sri Lanka

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is alarmed

by threats made against the safety of the family of senior Sri Lankan journalist Gamini Pushpakumara.

 

“We call

upon the Sri Lankan police and

security agencies to take immediate measures to investigate the source of the

threats and to extend all necessary protection to Pushpakumara’s family,” IFJ General

Secretary Aidan White said.

 

Pushpakumara,

who is an executive committee member of the Sri Lanka

Working Journalists’ Association (SLWJA) and secretary of the program producers’

union of the state-owned Sri Lanka

Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC), was summarily dismissed from employment at SLRC

after presidential elections in Sri

Lanka

in January.

 

The dismissal

followed Pushpakumara’s active leadership in the union’s demands that the SLRC

follow specified norms of fairness in its coverage of the presidential election

campaign.

 

Pushpakumara

has since left his home town of Horana, near Colombo, for safety

reasons. But his family remains, and on the evening of July 12, had two

visitors who spoke in a threatening manner to his wife Waruni Balasooriya.

 

They

alleged that Pushpakumara was a “Sinhala tiger”, a tacit supporter of the Tamil

secessionist movement that was defeated in May 2009 after a quarter-century-long

civil war.

 

Ms

Balasooriya was also warned not to report the threat to police for fear of

violent retribution. The IFJ has learnt that a complaint was nevertheless filed

at the Horana police station on July 14.

 

“As Sri Lanka

faces increasing international scrutiny over its human rights record and the

newly re-elected president’s intent to pursue a policy of national

reconciliation, the safety and well-being of media personnel will be a crucial

benchmark against which progress will be assessed,” White said.

 

“Unfortunately,

recent actions by the Sri Lankan

authorities indicate that they remain disinclined to take action against the use

of coercion and threats of violence that attempt to silence journalists who courageously

speak the truth to power.”

 

For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +612 9333 0919

 

The IFJ

represents more than 600,000 journalists in 125 countries

 

Find us on

Twitter: @ifjasiapacific