Feature Article

Assault on media

[TamilNet, Sunday, 16 March 2008, 16:08 GMT]
While the 2007 Country Report on Human Rights Practices in Sri Lanka released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor of the U.S. State Department catalogued the deteriorating climate for media freedom in Sri Lanka, State intimidation of, and violence on journalists continue in 2008. Unidentified men have broken into the houses of journalists Munusamy Parameshwari in Gampola, and Sashi Kumar and Sunetra Athugalpura in Gonawela, Kelaniya in three separate incidents in the last two days, according to media reports. Parameshawari's relatives were assaulted before the attackers got away, reports added.

2008 attacks on Media
Excerpts from U.S report on media freedom follows:

"Although the media was generally free to criticize the government, media freedom deteriorated in the conflict-affected north and east, especially in Jaffna, where many journalists were killed, abducted, and intimidated, while others reportedly practiced self-censorship. By year's end there were fewer functioning independent press or media outlets in Jaffna; some were forced to close due to threats against journalists and media workers."

"On April 29, unknown gunmen believed to be associated with the EPDP killed Uthayan journalist Selvarajah Rajivewaran in Jaffna. On August 1, unknown gunmen believed to be associated with the EPDP killed Nilakshan Sahadevan, a part-time journalist and a University of Jaffna student faculty advisor in the Department of Journalism. On August 15, unknown assailants threw acid in the face of K.P. Mohan, a Thinakkural journalist. On October 26, unknown gunmen on motorbikes shot and killed Kanagarajan Pradeepan, the 26-year old twin brother of Kanagarajan Prashanthan, who previously worked for the newspaper Namadu Eelanadu before it was closed following the August 2006 killing of its managing director Sinnathamby Sivamaharajah."

"Daily Mirror editor Champika Liyanarachchi reported that on April 16, Defense Secretary Gothabaya Rajapaksa threatened her and fellow journalist Uditha Jayasinghe, who had written a critical story about the Karuna group's intimidation of IDPs in the east. Karuna subsequently denied that he intended to harm Liyanarachchi, and Defense Secretary Rajapaksa denied threatening her. The Defense Secretary's brother, President Mahinda Rajapaksa, reportedly later apologized to Liyanarachchi."

On internet freedom, the U.S report said, "[i]n June the government ordered the country's two largest Internet service providers (ISPs) to restrict access to TamilNet, a pro LTTE news Web site. By year's end access was not restored. The government denied ordering the block. However, media sources reported interviews with employees from the ISPs alleging that they were acting on government orders...Because of the 2005 violent death of former editor of TamilNet Dharmaratnam Sivaram the editing and hosting of the Web site relocated to Geneva."

16.03.08  Assault on media

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External Links:
US: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2007: Sri Lanka


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