Attack On Journalists Sparks Outcry In Sri Lanka

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has

called for immediate disciplinary action to be taken after a group of police

officers allegedly assaulted a group of journalists covering a student protest.


IFJ affiliates the Sri Lankan Working Journalists’ Association (SLWJA) and

the Free Media Movement Sri Lanka

(FMM) reported that five journalists covering the Inter

University Students’ Federation demonstration on October 14 in the

capital, Colombo, were attacked after they reported police used undue force to break up

the protest.


They were assaulted

despite having identified themselves as journalists to police after reporting

that a group of 25 officers were attacking a single protester.


“The IFJ demands that Sri Lanka’s

authorities investigate this gross misuse of violence against journalists who

had clearly identified themselves as reporters and not protestors,” IFJ General

Secretary Aidan White said.


“It is equally

concerning that these students – who by all accounts were exercising their

democratic right to peaceful protest – have also been targeted in such a way.”


The SLWJA and FMM will

protest the attacks with other civil society groups at a rally in Lipton

Circus, Colombo

at noon on October 19. The protest will call on the Inspector General of Police

Mahinda Balasuriya and the Secretary of Defence Gotabhaya Rajapaksa to

investigate the incident and take disciplinary action against any officers

found guilty of professional misconduct.


The five journalists

injured were: Bingun Menaka Gamage of Lankadeepa; Sandaruwan Yatikinda of Neth FM;

Pradeep Dilrukshan  from the Daily Mirror; Chamila Karunaratna from Rivira and

Subramaniyam Gunaratnam of Sirasa TV.


The students were

protesting outside the Sri Lankan

Ministry of Education to demand the release of a group of student activists from

Sri Lanka’s

Peradeniya University, who were imprisoned after

booing the Minister of Higher Education S.B. Dissanayake on a

recent campus visit. Twenty-one students arrested at the

protest will face court on October 29.


While the right to

protest and freedom of association are both enshrined in the Sri Lankan constitution, the SLWJA believes police who

employ violent tactics do so with the blessing of state authorities.



For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +612 9333 0919



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