The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) extends
its solidarity to Sri Lanka’s
five main organisations of journalists as they begin a campaign of protests to
draw attention to the new wave of media suppression since the country’s
presidential election on January 26.
Media Movement (FMM), the Federation
of Media Employees’ Trade Unions (FMETU) and the Sri Lanka Working Journalists’
Association (SLWJA) – all IFJ affiliates – are participating in a public rally in
for noon today. Also involved are the Sri Lanka Muslim Media Forum and the Sri
Lanka Tamil Media Alliance.
Issues to be
raised at the rally include the disappearance of freelance cartoonist and
columnist Prageeth Eknaligoda on January 24, the detention of Lanka editor Chandana Sirimalwatte, ostensibly for terrorism offences, on January 30,
and the victimisation of several employees of government-owned media
“The IFJ is very
concerned at the obvious intent of Sri Lankan authorities to clamp down on
journalists and media organisations that may have taken a critical attitude
toward the administration of President Mahinda Rajapakse, recently re-elected
to a new term,” IFJ General Secretary Aidan White
The IFJ is
deeply worried about Eknaligoda, whose disappearance was followed on the day of
the election by the blocking of the Lanka-e-News website for which he was a contributor.
Elections Commissioner ordered the ban lifted, but it was reimposed soon
detention, similarly, followed the sealing of the Lanka newspaper’s offices.
Though the closure was lifted on a magistrate’s order, the paper’s editor
continues to be detained without charge.
media institutions Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd (the Lake House group)
and the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC) have also witnessed significant
internal turmoil since the election. In both, journalists who insisted on adhering
to the media code of conduct set by the Commissioner for Elections have been verbally
and physically abused.
A senior office-holder
of the SLRC workers’ union has received a notice of termination of services, 17
have been prohibited from entering the premises, and three have been sent on
compulsory leave. Another 13 staff have received letters demanding they explain
also reports that security agencies intend to summon several journalists for
interrogation regarding an alleged assassination plot against the President by
his main opponent in the recent election.
upon authorities in Sri
Lanka and in particular on President
Rajapakse to call off the witch-hunt and to approach the post-election scenario
with national reconciliation as the uppermost priority, including in regard to freedom
of the media and the right to free speech,” White said.
further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific
on +612 9333 0919
represents over 600,000 journalists in 125 countries