For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya
Media groups in Sri Lanka on Sunday accused the government of detaining a senior editor and shutting down his newspaper because the publication backed the losing opposition candidate in elections.
The wife of a Sri Lankan journalist who mysteriously disappeared one week ago has pleaded that he be freed by whoever is holding him. Prageeth Eknaligoda’s colleagues said he wrote articles favourable to losing presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka.
More staff from the state electronic and print media including a deputy Director of the state owned television Rupavahini, are under probe for their alleged involvement in a coup attempt by the opposition against the government, state television reported in its night news bulletin.
Centre for Policy Alternatives
30th January 2010: A series of recent events connected to the presidential election last week give rise to extremely serious concerns about the state of democracy in Sri Lanka today. The campaign period, the election and its aftermath were marred by unprecedented disregard for the Constitution and the law, resulting in not only violence and large-scale abuse of public resources, but also in setting a number of disquieting precedents with regard to the respect for constitutional authority and democratic values.
Authorities are monitoring the user activities of Facebook and Twitter social networking sites as some members of these networks allegedly defame prominent personalities and spread false rumours against the government.
The journalist thought that would make a good picture back home. He aimed his camera to take a shot. The commando aimed his gun and shouted “stop taking pictures or I will shoot you.”
The premises at Delkanda, Nugegoda, of the Lanka newspaper published by the JVP was sealed off by a group of officers from the CID yesterday. The editor, Chandana Sirimalwatha, who has been arrested previously and is still in detention, was brought to the premises and the sealing off took place in his presence. All the employees were told to take any of their personal belongings and then forced to leave the premises.
By Kishali Pinto Jayawardene
(January 31, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Quite apart from the frenzied allegations and counter allegations that have now come to dominate much of public talk on Sri Lanka’s Presidential Elections this Tuesday, one profoundly pathetic image dominates my mind, putting into doubt the very basis on which I will decide whether or not to exercise my vote in future elections in this country.
Will Mahinda Rajapaksa’s second term as President of Sri Lanka usher in a more liberal attitude towards private channels and newspapers? With the re-election of President Mahinda Rajapaksa in Sri Lanka, many will be watching to see what his next term will mean for the government’s policy towards private media.
We, 5 media organizations of Sri Lanka consider the steps taken by Criminal Investigation Department of Sri Lanka police to seal the Lanka newspaper office and arrest/detain its editor Chandana Sirimalwatta as a fatal blow to media freedom and democracy in Sri Lanka.
The pro-Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) newspaper Lanka was sealed by CID detectives yesterday – while world media rights groups expressed alarm over attacks on journalists and the free media after the presidential election.
Secretary general of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon has once again appealed to Sri Lanka’s political parties to exercise restraint and abide by the laws of the land. His associate spokesman Farhan Haqm has told the media that the UN chief was aware of developments on the ground in the island.
The Sri Lankan government should immediately end its post-election harassment of media outlets and ensure protection of journalists from attack, Human Rights Watch said today.
Since the presidential election on January 26, 2010, Sri Lankan authorities have detained and questioned several journalists, blocked news websites, and expelled a foreign journalist. At least one journalist has been assaulted and several have been threatened. President Mahinda Rajapaksa was re-elected to a second term in the hotly contested election.
The “Lanka” newspaper office was sealed a short while ago by CID personnel acting on a Court order.
Officers attached to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) who had previously arrested the editor of the “Irida Lanka” newspaper, Chandana Sirimalwatte, have tried to break into his residence a short while ago. According to initial reports, the officers who had visited his residence tried to search the premises without a search warrant.
Two days after he was declared the winner of this week’s election, Reporters Without Borders appealed today to President Mahinda Rajapaksa to put a stop to arrests and intimidation of journalists working for privately-owned and foreign media.
The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by reports that journalists in Sri Lanka have been subjected to government intimidation, arrests, censorship, and harassment in the aftermath of this week’s presidential election.
The European Union on Friday urged the Sri Lankan authorities to investigate reports of “irregularities” during the country’s recent election and ensure the safety of his defeated opponent.
Editor of the “Irida Lanka” newspaper, Chandana Sirimalwatte, has been arrested by the Criminal Investigation Department on Friday (29) afternoon. According to his lawyers he was questioned for two hours and was detained for further questioning.
Sri Lankan authorities have withdrawn the visa granted to a Swiss reporter covering the island’s fiercely fought presidential vote and asked her to leave the country within 48 hours.