FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION SRI LANKA

For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya

Prageeth missing due to ‘chemical weapon probe’

Cartoon for Prageeth in Le Courrier international, French weekly

Prageeth Ekneligoda is missing since 24 January, 2010
The main reason for the disappearance of a journalist is an investigation he carried out on the alleged use of chemical weapons by Sri Lanka forces, says his wife.

Sandhya Ekneligoda, the wife of the disappeared political columnist and cartoonist Prageeth, says his husband went missing after he published a piece on his investigation and informed diplomats over the issue.

“In 2008, Prageeth wrote and informed the diplomats about the Sri Lankan government’s usage of chemical weapons against the people in the north,” she told the BBC.

The Sri Lanka government has always denied using chemical weapons in its war against the Tamil Tigers.

“And he actively supported then opposition candidate Sarath Fonseka’s campaign,” Mrs Ekneligoda added.

I welcome you, to a country, where thousands of women and children weep silent tears for a nation of innocent civilians who have been killed or disappeared on account of their ethnicity. Welcome to Sri Lanka

Sandhya Ekneligoda’s letter to international writers

Before the disappearance a year ago on 24 January 2010, he was abducted by a group came on a white van in August 2009 but was released a day later.

His wife has travelled to Galle on Friday, together with their eldest son Sanjaya,16, to appeal to international writers and authors in finding her husband.

“I think he was abducted by people who did not like the truth,” Sanjaya Eknaligoda told the BBC.

Distributing leaflets among the participants of Galle Literary Festival (GLF) on Friday Mrs Ekneligoda has requested the help of world renowned writers to exert pressure on Sri Lanka government.

Galle Festival

“I welcome you on behalf of the wives and children, of journalists in Sri Lanka, who have been abducted, killed or forced to flee the country as a result of their work,” the leaflet distributed by Mrs Ekneligoda among the Festival delegates said.

Sandhya Ekneligoda with sons (photo: file photo)
‘I think he was abducted by people who did not like the truth,’ says Sanjaya Eknaligoda, 16 (L)

She could only distribute the letter though she expected to address the forum, Mrs Ekneligoda told BBC Sandeshaya, but she was grateful that she was allowed to enter the Festival.

“I welcome you, to a country, where thousands of women and children weep silent tears for a nation of innocent civilians who have been killed or disappeared on account of their ethnicity. Welcome to Sri Lanka.”

Mrs Ekneligoda expressed her gratitude to award winning authors Arundathi Roy, Noam Chomsky and others and the campaign groups Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and Journalist for Democracy (JDS) for calling for a boycott of the Festival at a time journalists and activists facing constant threats.

But the Festival organisers, Sri Lanka government and some human rights campaigners have criticised the call for boycott.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sinhala/news/story/2011/01/110128_prageeth_galle.shtml

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