FMM condemns closure of papers

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 23 May 2000, 09:33 GMT]
The Free Media Movement (FMM) in Sri Lanka, while condemning the closure of two newspapers, has called upon "all democratic forces, here and aboard, to exert maximum pressure upon the Sri Lankan government to desist from using emergency regulations to restrict the freedom of expression and other democratic rights in Sri Lanka."

Following is the full text of the press release:

"The Free Media Movement wishes to express its condemnation of the closure of two newspapers, namely 'Uthayan' and 'The Sunday Leader'.

"Uthayan is the only newspaper published in Jaffna. Since the fresh outbreak of hostilities between the SL army and the LTTE, the paper has continued to publish on a single sheet, due to the lack of newsprint. The sudden closure of 'Uthayan' deprives the already beleaguered population of Jaffna of a very valuable source of information.

"The Sunday Leader has been a critical voice from its inception in the mid 90s. It has played an important role in providing the Sri Lankan public with many investigative stories on high level corruption in the country. Two weeks ago it carried a very critical exposÈ on the political bias of the Competent Authority.

"The 'Uthayan' closure was effected by the army on May 19 and 'The Sunday Leader' on May 22, under the Emergency Regulations promulgated on May 3, 2000. According to newspaper reports, no specific reason was given for the decision to close 'Uthayan' and 'The Sunday Leader'.

"On May 4, the FMM issued a statement expressing our concern regarding the restrictions placed on media freedom as a consequence of the Emergency Regulations.

"We see the closure of the 'Uthayan' and 'The Sunday Leader' as a warning to other newspapers and journalists as to the consequences of their attempts to continue reporting on the current situation in the country. We deplore the arbitrary restriction of media freedom through the use of Emergency Regulations in this manner.

"The FMM reiterates its call to the government to lift the restrictions on the media and on press freedom immediately, and to permit the 'Uthayan', 'The Sunday Leader' and all other news media in Sri Lanka to continue reporting available news to the people of this country so that they may form an informed and independent opinion regarding the present situation.

"FMM calls upon all democratic forces, here and aboard, to exert maximum pressure upon the Sri Lankan government to desist from using emergency regulations to restrict the freedom of expression and other democratic rights in Sri Lanka."


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