For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya
The Associated Press Jan 18, 2011
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – Sri Lankan journalists and activists protested Tuesday to draw attention to what they called the government’s failure to pursue the perpetrators of crimes against media workers.
About 100 demonstrators gathered Tuesday in front of the main railway station in the Sri Lankan capital to complain that no one has been arrested in connection with the killing of a prominent journalist two years ago, the disappearance of another last year and an attack on a television station.
Lasantha Wickrematunge, editor of The Sunday Leader newspaper, was shot dead in his car by assailants on Jan. 8, 2009. The paper had been critical of the government’s conduct in the war against the now-defeated Tamil Tiger rebels and reported on alleged human rights violations and government corruption.
Two days before his killing, armed men attacked privately owned Sirasa television station, with hand grenades and gunfire that started a fire causing heavy damage to its studios.
“Two years have passed since the killing of Lasantha and attack on Sirasa, but the government has failed to bring any culprit before the law and punish them” said Gnanasiri Kottigoda, president of the Sri Lanka Working Journalists’ Association.
Paris-based Reporters Without Borders has accused the government of hindering an investigation into Wickrematunge’s killing.
Prageeth Ekneligoda, a political columnist and cartoonist with Lankaenews.com, was reported missing and is believed to have been abducted while on his way home from work a year ago.
Ekneligoda supported the opposition candidate in last year’s presidential election and disappeared two days before the poll.
The government has repeatedly denied any coverups and said that it continues to investigate the crimes.
Media rights groups say Sri Lanka is among the most dangerous places in the world for journalists. Amnesty International says at least 14 Sri Lankan media workers have been killed since the beginning of 2006. They blame the government for failing to properly investigate several other attacks on media and arrest the culprits.