For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya
NfR – Net working for rights in Sri lanka
Exile network for media and human rights in Sri Lanka
Press release/ 04 February 2011
Networking for Rights expresses it suspicion of the news that a suspect has been arrested in connection with the arson attack on the Lank-e-news office in Malabe on January 31, 2011 and calls on the government to conduct the investigation in a transparent manner. Lanka- e-news journalists. According to a Lanka e news report this drug addict suspect has made a confession that he along with another underworld figure set fire to the Lanka-e-news office as they were given a contract by a unknown person form abroad. Further more according to police this other underworld figure is missing!! This version of police investigation clearly points to a cheap cover up.
NfR also strongly condemns the front page news report in the state controlled Sinhala language daily, Dinamina of 02nd January . In an obvious attempt to divert the investigation and tar the image of those attached to Lanka-e-news, the news report claims that empty alcohol bottles, blue films, women’s underwear and similar items have been discovered at the scene of the crime. NfR views this report as a deliberate attempt to discredit the journalists and divert the interest of the people from the actual nature of the attack – a further suppression of media freedom. Lanka-e-news journalists have publicly stated that this is a cooked up story and challenged the government to prove it.
This is a continuation of the allegations and name calling by government controlled media institution to harm the reputation of fellow journalists and human rights activists.
It is important o note that the arson attack on the Lanka-e-news office comes soon after President Mahinda Rajapakse told media heads that a separate unit is investigating the activities of certain websites with a view towards “taking action” against them.
Mass Media and Information Minister Keheliya Rabukwella has stated that the attack is an attempt to discredit the government. NfR asks Minister Rabukwella to initiate action that would ensure responsible and balance reporting by all media institutions, including government controlled journalists and reign in those who justify the attacks for the perks
and privileges thrown at them by the government.
Given the many and varied acts of violence perpetrated on media personnel and media institutions which remain unsolved, NfR has deep concerns whether the government is serious about the investigation and committed to bringing the real culprits to book.
NfR reiterates its call for a transparent investigation and concrete action to arrest this trend. We call on the government to ensure that the investigations would not end in a similar fashion as those on the murder of Lasantha Wickramatunge, disappearance of Prageeth Ekneligoda and scores of other assaults, abductions and arson attacks which have gone unsolved so far.
Steering Committee, NfR Sri Lanka
Steering committee : Kshama Ranawana ( Canada) Lionel Bopage ( Australia), Nadarasa Sarawanan (Norway), Nadarajah Kuruparan(UK) Padmi Liyanage (Germany), Raveendran Pradeepan (France), Rudhramoorthy Cheran
(Canada), Saman Wagaarachchi ( USA), Sunanda Deshapriya ( Switzerland)
C/O, 19447, Victory Blvd,#2, Reseda,CA 91335, USA
Blog Site: http://nfrsrilanka.blogspot.com/
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