For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya
( BBC Sandeshaya)
Nine journalists were killed in Sri Lanka in the last two years, the chief government whip told the parliament on Wednesday.
Chief whip Dinesh Gunawardhane was replying to a question raised by the opposition.
“Since January 2006, Nine journalists were killed, twenty seven were physically assaulted and five were abducted,” said the minister.
He also said that, while four of the abducted journalists were later found, investigations and judicial procedures are being carried out about the rest of the incidents.
“On the 27th of December 2007, intruders broke into the national TV station the Rupavahini. According to the police, one of the employees was beaten up by the intruders. The report names Don Nuwan Gunathilaka and honourable minister Dr. Mervin Silva as the intruders. The report only name Don Nuwan Gunathilaka for assaulting the news editor of Rupavahini”. The minister explained.
“If the investigations are still going on, why did the defence secretary, in an address through state media, call murdered editor Lasantha Wickramatunge a ‘rat-snake’ and talk about killing ‘rat-Snakes’?” asked the leader of the opposition Ranil Wickramasingha.
Dinesh Gunawardhana asked the opposition leader to present his statements with the Defence Secretary’s quotes to parliament.
culture of impunity and indifference
Paris based Reporters Without Borders [RSF] had condemned “The culture of impunity and indifference” over killings and attacks on journalists in Sri Lanka.
Quoting the findings of an international mission to Sri Lanka in October 2008, RSF noted three trends relating to the coverage of the conflict: “lack of press access and independent information flow in the conflict zones, a wave of assaults and intimidation of journalists covering the conflict, and self-censorship by the media on the realities of the war.”
Keith Noyahr was abducted and released
Launching the new report, “Media Under Fire: Press Freedom Lockdown in Sri Lanka”, the International Mission criticised the Government over its inaction and failure to take the attacks, murder and assassination of reporters seriously.
Free Media Movement
“This has in turn led to an almost total blackout of independent and objective reporting from the North and East of Sri Lanka, which have seen the worst of the country’s long-running civil war”. The report points out.
Meanwhile the Free Media Movement had appointed an interim committee to conduct its activities until the next Annual General Meeting.