3 Sinhala leftist journalists, activists abducted

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 06 February 2007, 06:40 GMT]
A former journalist with the leftist Hiru paper, Lalith Seneviratne, was abducted at his home Monday night. Meanwhile, a trade union activist and editor of the monthly Akuna (Thunder), Sisira Priyankara, was reported missing from his work at an electrical workshop and another activist Nihal Serasinghe, who worked with the monthly was also abducted Monday evening. Leftist activists have alleged that the three friends were kidnapped by an abduction squad operated by the Sri Lankan military.

The Free Media Movement (FMM) organised a demonstration against the abduction Tuesday noon in front of the Fort Raily Station.

Nihal Serasinghe, a former editorial staff member of the leftist Diyesa monthly and a typesetter by profession, who had offered his services to bring out the Akuna paper, was abducted in Fort, Colombo around 3:00 p.m. Monday, while he was returning from a printing shop.

The second abduction took place around 6 hours later around 9:30 p.m.

Mohammed Lalith Senevirathne, 36, a well-known leftist freelance writer who earlier worked with the Hiru newspaper from the start till the paper stopped publishing, who has been helping the monthly magazine as chief layout artist, was abducted at his residence in Athurugiriya by a white-van squad.

An hour later, Sisira Priyanka, 38, the publisher of the Akuna monthly of the leftist trade union (Dumriya Kamkaru Ekathuva) of Ceylon Government Railways (CGR) workers, was reported missing.

Sisira Priyanka went out from his night duty, after receiving a phone call, to meet a friend who was supposed to be waiting at the gate of his working place, an electrical workshop of the Diesel Power Engine Yard, in Maradana in Colombo 10.

Sisira is an Excecutive Committee Member of the Railway Joint Trade Union Front, Treasurer of Ceylon Railway Trade Union Federation and the Oraganizer of Railway Workers Collective. He has played a prominent role in the recent legal action taken by the trade unions against the decision to increase the salaries of the Sri Lankan president, ministers and the MPs.

He was also an active participant in the joint Sinhala Tamil event held in October in 2003 in Colombo. The event was disturbed by an ultra nationalist mob.

Wife of Lalith Seneviratne, the former Hiru journalist, had lodged a complaint with the Police in Aturugiriya.

"A group of five to seven persons dressed in plainclothes visited the home of Mr. Seneviratne and took him away. When he shouted to his wife, sensing danger, one member of the group stopped the wife from intervening, saying that they were from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID)," said FMM in Colombo.

Police officials have told the family that they have not taken anyone by the name of Lalith Seneviratne into custody for questioning.

"FMM is seriously concerned for his safety, since at the time of this release, five hours after his abduction, no law enforcement authority had admitted to taking him into custody, nor had there been any news available about his whereabouts," the FMM said.

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