IFJ General Secretary Sends Letter to Sri Lanka President

* Below is a letter sent by IFJ General Secretary Aidan White to Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa on March 16, 2010*

 

His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa

President of Sri Lanka

‘Temple Trees’

Colombo 3

Sri Lanka

March

16, 2010

 

Your

Excellency,

 

RE: Urgent

Protection for Human Rights Campaigners and Journalists

 

The International

Federation of Journalists (IFJ) wishes to draw your immediate attention and

concern to the circulation of a list of journalists, human rights campaigners

and other prominent individuals in Sri Lanka. There is a lack of

clarity about the list’s origins and purpose, but there are reports it was compiled

by state intelligence agencies.

 

Given the trend of violence,

intimidation and threats against members of Sri Lanka’s press freedom and human

rights communities, the list and its purpose are of significant concern. The

IFJ understands the list has been in circulation in Colombo since before the presidential

election on January 26.

 

Under Sri Lanka’s national law, state

intelligence agencies are directly under your authority. The IFJ therefore respectfully

requests Your Excellency to take prompt action to investigate the source of the

list, and ensure those named on it are afforded full protection.

 

A recent report in Lanka News Web reported the list contains

an apparent rating system and includes a number of names accompanied by a brief

summary of the individuals’ professional history. The Lanka News Web report suggests the ranking system pertains to

levels of public activity and campaigning around human rights and democracy

issues in Sri Lanka.

Copies of the list have been obtained by several diplomatic missions in Colombo.

 

On March 9, the Five Media

Organisations jointly expressed concern about an alert from the Asian Human

Rights Commission (AHRC) of unofficial reports of the imminent arrest of

Transparency International Sri Lanka

(TISL) Executive Director Mr J.C. Weliamuna. Mr Weliamuna reportedly is ranked highly

on the list. The IFJ understands that Mr Weliamuna and other individuals on the

list have written to you directly to seek clarity on this matter.

 

The IFJ requests that your office publicly

explains whether the list is an official document, sanctioned under your

authority or undertakes to investigate the matter in full. We seek an assurance

that Sri Lankan authorities will not seek to intimidate and deter those named

on the list and other independent voices ahead of national elections in

April. 

 

The IFJ asks that you use your

authority to provide immediate safety and protection measures to all

individuals named on the list, and to note that state authorities must be held

accountable if any harm comes to these individuals.

 

The IFJ respectfully reminds you as

the leader of a democratic nation of your responsibility and duty to ensure diverse

views, independent information and coverage of the upcoming election process are

available to the Sri Lankan public. This would considerably strengthen and

deepen the process of national reconciliation that you have repeatedly stated

as your main priority.

 

 

Yours

sincerely,

 

Aidan White

 

IFJ General Secretary

International Federation of Journalists

 

IPC-Residence Palace,

Bloc C
Rue de la Loi 155
B-1040 Brussels
BELGIUM

Telephone: 32-2-235 22 00
Telefax: 32-2-235 22 19

 

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