The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) fears that conditions for journalists in Sri Lanka’s Eastern Province are worsening, after another journalist reported being threatened by a member of the Tamil Peoples’ Liberation Tigers (TMVP, or the Karuna faction).
The Free Media Movement (FMM), an IFJ affiliate, said it had received reports that Thakshila Jayasena, of the BBC’s Sandeshaya Sinhala Service, received the threat on August 15 after covering a protest campaign by the United National Party, Sri Lanka’s main opposition party.
Jayasena lodged a complaint with police in Polonnaruwa, reporting that a motorcyclist had blocked her taxi as she returned to her office, and told her that he intended not to leave anyone alive. She recognised him from a press conference held by Mangalam Master, the TMVP candidate for the Polonnaruwa provincial council election.
The FMM said that several threats had been made against journalists in recent months by members of TMVP, a paramilitary and political group which is contesting the provincial elections.
“If these threats are not addressed at the outset, the FMM is deeply concerned the TMVP will treat media in much the same manner as the Government treats media in the South, which is to say that they will violently clamp down on all dissent and independent reporting,” the FMM said in a statement.
The IFJ joined the FMM in demanding that TMVP ensure its cadres refrain from threats and attacks against the media, and make a public commitment to respect the safety of journalists and media freedom.
“The IFJ calls on all sides in Sri Lanka’s conflict to respect the right of journalists and independent and critical media to report fairly and critically in the interests of all citizens, without fear of threats, intimidation or worse,” IFJ Asia-Pacific said.
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 600,000 in 122 countries worldwide