A provincial journalist was detained for hours and threatened by the Sri Lankan military for taking photos and filming video of a public protest at A'lampil in Mullaitivu district, northern province of Sri Lanka on March 18.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate the Free Media Movement (FMM) in condemning the Sri Lankan military for harassment of the journalist and demands a formal investigation.
Provincial journalist Shanmugam Thavaseelan, 32, of ABC media network was detained for more than two hours by the military and was only released after his newsroom contacted the military spokesperson in capital Colombo. He was in possession of his media card and was covering the public protest against the alleged land grab by the military. While being released, a military officer reportedly threatened him: “We will watch you and get you at the next opportunity.”
The FMM said: “The FMM considers it as an act impeding his professional duties and a threat to freedom of expression. The FMM wishes to stress the fact that it is an obligation of the Sri Lankan Government including the armed forces to create a democratic environment for media personnel to perform their duties without any obstacles.”
The IFJ said: “The IFJ condemns the harassment of a journalist by the Sri Lankan military. It is a journalist’s duty to cover incidents of public interest, and to expose any wrongdoing by any state agency. It is the duty of the Sri Lankan authorities to ensure safety of journalists as well as provide a conducive environment for free and independent reporting. The IFJ urges the Sri Lankan authorities to probe the matter and ensure that such incidents are not repeated in future.”
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0946
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