Colombo on “witch hunt” against local journalists, says deported IFJ Director

[TamilNet, Saturday, 02 November 2013, 09:03 GMT]
The Asia-Pacific Director of the reputed global media watchdog, International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Ms Jacqui Park, who was arrested, detained for two days in house arrest at Hotel Galadari together with her colleague Ms Jean Worthington and kicked out of the island by the Sri Lankan regime on Friday, described Colombo’s officials of conducting a systematic “witch hunt” against local journalists as she reached Sydney on Saturday. While the Free Media Movement (FMM) in Colombo was coordinating an island-wide event in bringing together journalist associations that have been working under the prevailing media suppression and harassments by the Colombo regime, Ms Park and her colleague were visiting the island on tourist visa and were invited to attend the FMM event on Wednesday, where they were arrested.

"From the kinds of questions that we had over the two days it was clear it was kind of a witch hunt against the local media, local journalists and media freedom activists who are really trying to create some free space for freedom of expression in Sri Lanka," Park said from Sydney.

"We know from our work this is not an isolated incident but really a pattern of behavior of intimidation and threats against journalists in Sri Lanka."

The Sri Lankan Defence and immigration officials subjected Ms Park and Ms Wothington to lengthy questioning of up to nine hours a day following their arrest on Wednesday at the FMM event.

The AFP reported citing FMM spokesman Sunil Jeyasekara that Ms Park was only allowed to board the flight after the interrogators removed all data from her personal laptop at the end of two days of questioning.

In the meantime, the IFJ said it was gravely concerned about the safety of media personnel inside Sri Lanka arising from this incident.

The immigration officials in Colombo had told the visiting IFJ officials under their interrogation that Sri Lanka’s immigration law didn’t allow tourists to participate in workshops. The IFJ in its statement argued that no breaches of visa conditions have occurred.

Journalists in the island said that the episode has not only proved that the SL State is adamant on restricting local journalists from mobilizing, but the detention and deportation has also exposed how it is monitoring the interactions of the local journalists with the foreign journalists and media rights activists.

The IFJ also described the move as "an attempt to intimidate and harass journalists inside and outside Sri Lanka to prevent reporting on the realities of life in Sri Lanka" ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting later this month.

Tamil journalists observing the episode said without addressing the international injustice, which also failed Eezham Tamils at a crucial juncture in their history, the justice would not be restored in the island.

 

Latest 15 Reports
17.10.19 19:14   Photo
SL Police resorts to violence in grabbing lands of Tamil fishers in Batticaloa North
16.10.19 23:19   Photo
Chennai Connect and Eezham Tamils reminding Tamil Nadu to assert Tamil geopolitics
15.10.19 23:50  
Colombo destroys dairy-farming economy of Eezham Tamils in Batticaloa
14.10.19 23:48   Photo
Tamil parties in North-East stipulate ‘acid test’ terms to SL presidential candidates
13.10.19 22:15   Photo
SL Governor's latest land grab poses danger to archaeological traces of Eezham Tamils
12.10.19 22:23   Photo
Monks step up campaign against Muslims, want to carve out Sinhala colony in Ampaa'rai
11.10.19 22:07   Photo
Vote for Self-Determination, reject major candidates for more effective boycott
10.10.19 23:31   Photo
SL Police intensifies restrictions on Saiva devotees at disputed ‘chaitya’ hilltop in East
09.10.19 20:17  
Indian Coast Guard trespassed into waters off Jaffna, 18 fishers detained since 03 October
08.10.19 18:43  
Divisional Secretary, TNA MPs must act to release Chegnchoalai lands: civil activist
07.10.19 23:12   Photo
Heinous act by HRCSL: former orphans of Chegnchoalai on the brink of losing lands
06.10.19 12:21  
EPDP joins Jaffna protest against desecration of Neeraaviyadi temple
05.10.19 22:06  
Families inheriting lands from parents refused of land registration in Moothoor East
04.10.19 21:50  
SL Archaeology, Police continue to disturb Tamils’ right to worship at Vedukku-naa'ri hilltop
03.10.19 19:16  
Raghavan plans to distribute uncultivatable lands to Tamils to compensate for loss of fertile lands
 
Find this article at:
http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=36788