FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION SRI LANKA

For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya

Media organisations condemn attack on Uthayan office while police fail to do their duty

Media organisations, political parties and civil rights movements condemned this week’s attack on an Uthayan newspaper office in Kilinochchi, as police failed to make a breakthrough in the investigations. Six media organisations condemning the attack, said that the media in the Northern Province continues to be suppressed to prevent public access to information.

The Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association (SLWJA), the Free Media Movement (FMM), the Sri Lanka Tamil Media Association (SLTMA), the Sri Lanka Muslim Media Forum (SLMMF), the South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) and the Federation of Media Employees Trade Union (FMETU) said the Government should take total responsibility for the attack, in which the staff were attacked and vehicles and office equipment damaged.

They said that various attempts have been made during the past three months, to prevent the distribution of the newspaper in the North.  ‘Despite heavy security presence, men armed with clubs travel around freely in the north’, the statement said.

The Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) and the Centre for Human Rights and Research (CHR) also strongly condemned the attack. “We see this as a continuation of media suppression in the North, and the attempt to create a fear psychosis within the province,” they said.

Seven persons armed with clubs, stormed the Uthayan newspaper office in Kilinochchi, as the newspapers transported from Jaffna were being unloaded.  Two employees, A. Ponnuthurai and S. Pradeepan were hospitalised, while five others were injured.
The attackers escaped on motorcycles.

Police Spokesman SP Buddhika Siriwardena said no breakthrough has been made in the investigations.

ST

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