Friday, October 15, 2010

Five senior journalists of SLRC remain suspended without any inquiry

While several journalists covering the protest of university students were subjected to a police assault last week, other media persons continue to be hounded out, and threatened in Sri Lanka.

Of particular interest is the case of the group of thirteen employees of the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation. Thirteen journalists were victimised for insisting that Rupavahini abide by the Elections Commission Act, and give all political parties and candidates equal air time during the Presidential and General elections held earlier this year. However, acting in contravention of the Act and an order of the Supreme Court, Rupavahini officials not only allowed more air time to political stooges of the government, the President and his party, 

SLRC also used the news telecasts to attack the media personnel. The thirteen were branded as anti-state conspirators and "Sinhala Tigers", and suspended from work. Following their interdiction the media persons filed Fundamental Rights cases, and seven have since been reinstated. However, the seven are under immense pressure to withdraw the cases. Senior journalists Kanchana Marasinghe, Athula Peiris, H.K. Alagiyawanna, Gamini Pushpakumara, and Ravi Abeywikrama still remain suspended. Almost nine months have passed without any inquiry on this suspension. Soon after the Presidential election on 28th January programme producer Ravi Abeywikrama was assaulted official of SLRC. So far police has not taken any action to investigate the assault although journalists lodged complains at the police on the same day.

Harassment of the others has led to at least one person to seek political asylum in another country. It is relevant to recall that the five who have not been re instated are active media union leaders, and have been threatened with death following SLRC's live coverage of an assault on its Director, News by a government Minister and his goons in December 2007. Allegations of being anti state conspirators renders these persons open to arrest at any time.

In light of the continued threats to the SLRC media personnel, the government's ineptitude in probing into the disappearance of Lanka E News Editor Prageeth Eknaligoda and the continuing assault of journalists, Networking for Rights demands that the government take remedial action and bring an immediate halt to the intimidation of media personnel.

  Issued by Steering Committee, NfR Sri Lanka

C/O, 19447, Victory Blvd,#2, Reseda,CA 91335, USA

Steering committee : Iqbal MCM ( The Netherlands), Lionel Bopage ( Australia), Nadarasa Sarawanan (Norway), Nadarajah Kuruparan(UK) Padmi Liyanage (Germany), Raveendran Pradeepan (France), Rudhramoorthy Cheran (Canada), Saman Wagaarachchi ( USA), Sunanda Deshapriya ( Switzerland)

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