FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION SRI LANKA

For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya

SLWJA condemns attack, urge people to stand up to restore lost liberties – Sri Lanka Working Journalist Association

Press Release, 2010 Dec. 09

Sri Lanka Working Journalist Association (SLWJA) condemns in unequivocal terms†† the assault of two journalists at the Katunayake Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) on Tuesday (7).

The SLWJA also condemns the attack on Dr. Wickremabahu Karunaratne, Leader of the New Left Front and his supporters by a group of BIA employees, obviously under the state patronage. It is disturbing that Dr Karunaratne and his supporters were assaulted in the environs of BIA in the presence of police personnel.
The two journalists- Lanka E News journalist Shantha Wijesuriya and Sirasa TV Airport correspondent Prema Lal were covering the attack on Dr. Karunaratne when the attackers set upon them, grievously injuring journalist Wijesuriya, who is also an executive committee member of the SLWJA.
Attackers pursued the vehicle travelled by two journalists, obstructed its path with two vehicles and assaulted journalists with clubs and knives.

Dr Karunaratne was assaulted on his arrival from England where he addressed several public meetings.† He was one of the main speakers at the Tamil Remembrance Day 2010 held on 27th of November.

The two attacks are another pointer of intolerance and paranoia in the high places of the government. It is a bitter but stubborn truth that in the present day Sri Lanka space for free discourse and political dissent is fast shrinking. The attack highlights this disturbing reality.† It must be stressed that the impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators of a number of attacks carried out against media personnel and media institutions, civil rights groups and political dissenters should end if Sri Lankans are to fully enjoy the rights guaranteed under the constitution. Given that our regular appeals made to†† authorities to investigate countless previous attacks against journalists fell into deaf ears, we believe that any fresh calls for investigations into the recent attack would be futile and in vain. We could only urge the people of this country to stand up and rally together to restore lost civil liberties of this country.

Kanchane Marasinghe
National Organiser
Sri Lanka Working Journalist Association

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