Journalists call for media freedom

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 24 January 2007, 12:50 GMT]
The journalists in Sri Lanka staged a demonstration in front of the Fort Railway Station, Colombo around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, condemning the intimidation of media persons and media institution and stressing the freedom of expression.

Journalists protest
Journalists protest

Hundreds of journalists and media workers from Free Media Movement (FMM), Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association, Journalist Workers Trade Federation, Sri Lanka Tamil Media Alliance (SLTMA) and Sri Lanka Muslim Media Forum participated in this demonstration. The mother of recently killed Sinhala journalist, Lakmal Sampath, was also participated in the protest..

The participants shouted the following slogans and carried placards too.

  • Eight journalists killed so far. What is the solution? What happened to the assurances given?
  • Let newspapers go to Jaffna!
  • Arrest Mervin’s hirelings!
  • Where are the killers of Lakmal?
  • Release Parameswary immediately!
  • Do not intimidate journalists!
  • Let Jaffna newspapers survive!
  • Stop the unwanted arrests by Police!
  • Do not punish journalists!
  • Journalists were attacked in front of a minister with the
  • presence of Police. Where can we complain?
  • President, why a blind eye towards journalists?

The mother of Lakmal Sampath carried a placard with the slogan of ‘Find out the killer of my son Lakmal!’ and requested the Police officers present to find out the killers of her son. She also urged the Police not to harm the journalists as they, she said, are like her children.

At the end of the one-hour long demonstration representatives of media organizations delivered spoke to the those assembled.

Sunantha Deshappriya, the coordinator of FMM said: “There is continued erosion of media freedom in Sri Lanka. Newspapers are banned in some parts of the country. Journalists, who expose truth, are being either intimidated or kidnapped. Media in Sri Lanka face a harsh future as it attempts to provide the correct and true information to the public in a hostile environment. We see this as a failure of democracy. The international community should try to understand this and pay attention to the problems faced by the Sri Lankan journalists.”

S. Nixon, the representative of SLTMA, urged authorities to respect the journalists and media institutions, and told that they would be compelled conduct widespread agitation if the intimidation continues.

A large number of Police officers were present at the site of demonstration to provide security.

Meanwhile, a group of persons had gathered under Deputy Minister Mervin Silva, held a meeting in the same place 30 minutes before the demonstration, to thank the Armed Forces for their victories in North East and to encourage them.

Two busloads of people were brought to the scene and they shouted slogans supporting the Armed Forces.

Even though, the organizers of the demonstration had feared that their event might be disturbed by the mobs, the demonstration ended peacefully. Recently a public rally organized by the United People's Movement (UPM) in Nugegoda hundreds of unruly elements under the direction of Deputy Minister Mervin Silva attacked the members of the Front and journalists.

22.03.07  Reckless Justice

Related Articles:
12.01.07   Media watchdog condemns paramilitary ban on papers
09.01.07   Mob led by SL Minister attack Journalists at UPM event
05.05.06   International Community should protect Tamil media - TMF


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