FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION SRI LANKA

For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya

Police attack demonstration by University students 21 students arrested, 4 journalists assaulted – NfR

17. 10.2010

Sri Lanka Police obstructed a peaceful protest organized by Inter University Student’s Federation on 14th Oct 2010, assaulted number of students brutally and arrested 21 students. Those students arrested were produced in courts on 15th Oct  and remanded till 29th October, 2010.

The demonstration was organized  in defence of  the right to association of university students and to protest the unjust punitive action taken by the university authorities against student union leaders.

The right to association is a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution of Sri Lanka and right to protest has been upheld by the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka on number of occasions. During the last few weeks there  have been a number of attacks on the right to association and right to information  in  Sri Lanka.

Four journalist namely, photo journalists Pradeep Dilrukshana of Daily Mirror, Chamila Karunaratne of Rivira news paper,  Sandaruwan Yatikinda of Neth FM and Bigun Menaka of Lankadeepa  who were covering the demonstration was clearly targeted and brutally assaulted by the police. All four  journalist logged a complaint at the Cinnamon Garden Police, Colombo.  This  unlawful action  by the police  is a direct assault on the right to information of Sri Lankan people which is a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution.

Journalist who had been assaulted  told the media that they were assaulted even after they produced their media identity cards to the police constables at the scene of the protest. They were assaulted as they were covering  25 police men who were beating up  one student, one journalist told the press conference organist by four media organisations on 15th Oct.  The Convener of the  Free Media Movement,  Sunil Jayasekara expressed serious concern on continuing intimidation  of journalists and emphasized that  unless the impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators is dealt with there will not be any improvement in media freedom in Sri Lanka.

NfR stands in solidarity  with media organizations in Sri Lanka in defense of the rights to information, peaceful protest and  association NfR urges the  international human rights community to take whatever steps possible to safeguard the above mentioned fundamental rights of the people of Sri Lanka.

Recommend action:
Please send a letters of concern to Inspector General of Police, Sri Lanka
Link to the Email complains to IGP: http://www.police.lk/index.html

Issued by the steering committee

Iqbal MCM ( The Netherlands), Lionel Bopage ( Australia), Nadarasa Sarawanan (Norway), Nadarajah Kuruparan(UK) Padmi Liyanage (Germany), Raveendran Pradeepan (France), Rudhramoorthy Cheran (Canada), Saman Wagaarachchi ( USA), Sunanda Deshapriya ( Switzerland)

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