Monday, January 31, 2011

Arson Attack on Online News Portal Office in Sri Lanka

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) strongly condemns an arson attack on the offices of LankaENews, a popular news portal operating out of a suburb of the Sri Lankan capital city of Colombo.

Lanka E News office set on fire

(Lanka-e-News, 31,Jan.2011, 3.25AM -2nd edition 31Jan.10.30AM) Lanka e news website has been set on fire this early morning (31) at about 2.00 a.m. by a group of unidentified individuals.

Unidentified thugs set fire to Lankaenews office

An unidentified group of thugs has broken the locks at the Lankaenews office in Daham Mawatha, Malabe, and set fire to all the files, computers and other equipments. The group has thereafter set fire to the office building.

The incident has occurred about 2am on Monday. When the neighbors arrived and tried to extinguish the fire, the whole office has been burnt. Moments before the incident, an unidentified person who called its news editor Bennet Rupasignhe has threatened him with death.

Offices of anti-government site burn in Sri Lanka

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP): A group of men broke into the offices of a website critical of Sri Lanka's government and set fire to it Monday, a journalist from the publication said, adding that he suspected a government role in the attack.

Bennett Rupasinghe, news editor of LankaeNews.com, said the fire destroyed everything in the offices. He said the attackers could have been sent by the government as punishment for the website's critical articles.
Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella denied the allegation.

Popular and independent website office set on fire in Colombo

http://www.lankaenews.com office located at Daham Mawatha, Malabe, a suburb of Colombo Sri Lanka has been set on fire around 2.00 am, 31 January 2011. a short news item posted on the site says that " About an hour ago, the LankaeNews office premises was set on fire. At about 2.00 am today, a group of unknown personnels had broken into the premises and set it on fire. By now everything that was inside the building has been destroyed."

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Galle literary festival appeal

Reporters Without Borders and Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka (JDS), a network of exiled Sri Lankan journalists, announce the launch of an international appeal already signed by Noam Chomsky, Arundathi Roy, Ken Loach, Antony Loewenstein and Tariq Ali, asking writers and intellectuals to endorse a campaign for more freedom of expression in Sri Lanka.

“Where is Prageeth?”

Prageeth Eknaligoda, a journalist, cartoonist and political analyst, went missing nearly one year ago. He disappeared in Colombo on 24 January 2010.
With the help of famous cartoonists all over the world, Reporters Without Borders and Cartooning for Peace are launching a campaign that appeals to the Sri Lankan authorities to do everything possible to find Prageeth.
A new cartoon will be published every day until the anniversary of his disappearance.
“Give us back Prageeth!”

An appeal to help the family of a disappeared journalist

Sri Lankan cartoonist and political reporter Prageeth Eknelygoda disappeared almost one year ago today. He was last seen leaving the Colombo offices of the political Website Lanka eNews, where he worked, late on the evening of Sunday, January 24, 2010. No one has heard from Eknelygoda since.
His wife, Sandhya, told CPJ that after her husband failed to come home that evening, she filed a police report. Eknelygoda's editor, Sandaruwan Senadheera, told local and foreign media that he feared the cartoonist had been abducted in retaliation for his open support of the opposition during Sri Lanka's 2010 presidential elections. The abduction theory resonates with Sandhya Eknelygoda, who said that in 2009 her husband was abducted, handcuffed, blindfolded, and held for one day by unidentified individuals. Days prior to Eknelygoda's disappearance, Senadheera himself was forced to flee Sri Lanka fearing continuous threats against his life.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Journalists Demand Investigations into Death, Disappearance in Sri Lanka

As protests in Sri Lanka mark the anniversaries of the murder of Sunday Leader editor Lasantha Wickrematunge and disappearance of cartoonist Prageeth Eknaligoda, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) demands that the Government of Sri Lanka expedite investigations into these cases and immediately disclose any findings.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sri Lankan media rights activists

Sri Lankan media rights activists shout slogans during a protest in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2011. Media rights groups' members demanded the government to inquire into the attacks and killings of journalists and punish the culprits. Placards show portraits of journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda, who was disappeared one year ago. The placards read: 'One year completed for the disappearance,' top, and 'Do we allow the injustice.'
(AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

Sri Lankan journalists demands justice for killed, disappeared journalists

Bharatha Mallawarachi, The Associated Press 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.

Websites that criticise the Government to be dealt with

The attention of NfR  has been drawn to a conversation that  is  reported to have taken place  at a breakfast meeting  hosted by President Mahinda Rajapakse for senior media personnel in Colombo on the 13th of January, 2011.
According to media reports the President has told those who had attended the meeting  that  a separate unit is investigating the  activities of certain websites with a view to  ‘take action’   against them.

(http://thenewsmaster.blogspot.com/2011/01/silumina-editor-suggests-president-to.html)

CHR Sri Lanka report on LLRC Mannar Sessions: Oscillation between Hope and Hopelessness

(Lanka-e-News -17.Jan.2011, 4.20PM) Over 1000 people gave evidence before the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) in Mannar, from January 8-9, 2011. Centre for Human Rights (CHR) is convinced that this enthusiastic public participation shown by the affected, as a clear indication and desire for reconciliation, as well as their need for assistance. Around 600 submissions were presented during the session at Manthai West AGA’s Office, the highest number during any session to date.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Ruhunu University students attacked by the Nil Balakaya(Blue Battalion)

9 hospitalised; 2 in serious condition
Lanka-e-News -16.Jan.2011, 0.30AM) A group of Ruhunu University students of the management and finance faculty were attacked when they were at the main entrance gate of the University by thugs and goons belonging to the Nil Balakaya. Swords, iron rods , glass bottles, and Bicycle chains have been used to launch this attack. According to reports reaching Lanka e news , 9 of the victims have been admitted to the Matara Gen. Hospital , and two of them are in a critical condition.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Govt. Media, ‘Silumina’ Editor turns grave digger for websites

(Lanka-e-News, 15,Jan.2011, 10.25AM) The Editor of the Govt. newspaper ‘Silumina’ Karunadasa Sooriyarachi had suggested to the President Mahinda Rajapakse to take action against websites which are unduly criticizing the Govt.

Sooriyarachi has made this proposal to the President at a meeting of the chiefs of the media Institutions held on the 13th at the Temple Trees headed by the President, according to information reaching Lanka e news.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

32-year-old male seeks asylum with HRC in Jaffna

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 12 January 2011, 11:24 GMT]A 32-year-old man from Changkaanai, where a chief priest was killed a few weeks ago, has sought asylumn with the Sri Lankan Human Rights Commission (HRC) in Jaffna Monday and was produced in the courts through Sri Lankan Police Tuesday. The judge, witnessing the traumatic condition of the victim ordered the police to take him to Jaffna Teaching Hospital for a medical inspection and place him in the protective custody till 18th January, legal sources in Jaffna said.

146,679 Vanni people missing within a year of war: Bishop of Mannaar

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 12 January 2011, 00:09 GMT]
According to records of the SL Government Agent offices of Mullaiththeevu and Ki’linochchi districts, the population of Vanni was 429,059 in October 2008. The total number of people who got into SL government control after the war was 282,380, according to UN update as of 10 July 2009. “Due clarification should be made regarding what happened to 146,679 people, which is the discrepancy between the number of people who came to government controlled areas between October 2008 – May 2009 and the population reported to be in Vanni in early October 2008,” said the Catholic Bishop of Mannaar, Rt. Rev. Dr. Rayappu Joseph in his submission to the LLRC Saturday. The Bishop has also raised the issues of militarization, colonisation, land grab, Sihalicization, Buddhicisation and civil as well as human rights abuses that take place in the Tamil land following the war.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Resettlement Still Ongoing

Sunday Leader, By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema 

Over 80,000 persons are yet to be resettled by the government in the Northern Province. According to the Resettlement Ministry, while there are 18,000 persons remaining in the Menik Farm welfare center, there are 72,000 persons who are currently residing with relatives in the North. Deputy Resettlement Minister Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan told The Sunday Leader that the 72,000 persons who are to be resettled are those whose houses are located in the high security zones (HSZs) in Jaffna.

Lasantha Murder Case Drags On Justice Delayed Is Justice Denied

Police, on Wednesday, informed the Mount Lavinia courts that investigations were being carried out based on information regarding the involvement of a former member of Army Intelligence and a garage owner in the assassination of the Editor of The Sunday Leader, Lasantha Wickrematunge.

Lasantha’s Killers Still Walk Free

By Frederica Jansz-Sunday Leader
A year ago, a high profile investigation into the murder of Lasantha Wickrematunge and the attacks on Editors Upali Tennekoon, Keith Noyahr and NamalPerera begin_of_the_skype_highlighting     end_of_the_skype_highlighting got underway as senior sleuths attached to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) and the Terrorist Investigations Department (TID) sifted through a smattering of leads which may, they said, eventually pinpoint who were responsible for these attacks on journalists at the height of the war against the LTTE.
Seventeen army soldiers attached to the Army Military Intelligence Unit but also identified as having worked ‘closely’ with former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka were remanded and held by the TID/CID.

Lasantha Wickrematunge's second death anniversary

Family members and relatives of the late Lasantha Wickrematunge, former Editor of The Sunday Leader, singing Hymns at the Service of Thanksgiving to mark his second death anniversary, at the General Cemetery Kanatte yesterday. (Pic by Nimal Dayaratne/Island)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Lasantha Wickrematunge's second death anniversary

A colleague of The Sunday Leader newspaper former Editor in Chief Lasantha Wickrematunge bows his head in front of his grave during his 2nd death anniversary in Colombo January 8, 2011. Wickrematunge was shot by unidentified gunmen on motorcycles as he drove to the office of the Leader newspaper in a suburb of capital Colombo in 2009, according to the police. Wickrematunge was a prominent senior Sri Lankan journalist known for his critical reporting on the government.… Read more » REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte (SRI LANKA - Tags: CRIME LAW MEDIA ANNIVERSARY)

Newspaper editor’s murderers still at large two years later

RSF, Sunday Leader editor Lasantha Wickrematunga, a courageous, talented and iconoclastic journalist, was shot dead in Colombo by a death squad two years ago tomorrow. His murder is still unpunished.
Reporters Without Borders is appalled by the fact that the Sri Lankan government is doing nothing to solve this murder and in fact is clearly preventing the truth from coming to light. By blocking the investigation and by fostering a climate of impunity and indifference, the government has become an accomplice. Wickrematunga’s murder dealt a major blow to media freedom in Sri Lanka.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Assault on Tamil media personnel continues in East

[TamilNet, Thursday, 06 January 2011, 16:55 GMT]
Attacks on media persons in Batticaloa and Ampaa'rai districts by armed groups and politicians associated with Colombo is on the increase. On Wednesday, P.M.M.A.Cader, a media person working for several years in the Ampaa'rai district, was severely assaulted on Wednesday by a councillor of the Kalmunai Municipal Council when the journalist was on his way to Maruthamunai to collect information about displaced persons due to the recent floods. Mr. Cader has been warded in Maruthamunai base hospital.

A complaint has been lodged in the Kalmunai police station.

On December 11, Manikapody Sasikumar, Batticaloa correspondent of Thinakkural, a Colombo Tamil daily, was assaulted by unidentified armed persons.

But the police fail to take action against the attackers even after complaints are made, media sources in the East complain.

Maruthamunai village is located in Kalmunai police division.

Killings in Jaffna raises the question whether death squads have been reactivated'

The Hindu ~by R. K. Radhakrishnan
Politicians and non-governmental organisations have expressed serious concern over the “deterioration” of law and order in the northern districts.

Assault on Senior Journalist in Ampara District

NfR reports with indignation the assault on  Mr. P.M.M.A.Cader (53) , a senior multi-lingual  journalist working in the Ampara District in the  Eastern Province of Sri Lanka.   He is the  Provincial Correspondent  for Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Limited and also  works for some other Tamil language media as well.  Following this attack he is  under treatment  at the  Maruthamunai Hospital in  Kalmunai, for  dizziness and headache.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Abductions shock Mannaar, relatives of victim confront white van

[TamilNet, Thursday, 06 January 2011, 19:22 GMT]
Sinhala-speaking armed men in white-van rushed through Mannaar abducting four males, one of them a Muslim youth, Jaharil Jazeel. The episode resulted in a confrontation between the relatives of Mr. Jazeel and the abductors, exposing the level of top-hierarchy involvement of Sri Lankan defense authorities in the chain of abductions. Sri Lanka Navy, Sri Lanka Army and Police guarding the Mannaar Bridge withdrew their security, allowing the abductors to proceed southwards after seeing a piece of paper produced by the men right in front of the victim’s relatives, who were chasing the white van in four three-wheelers. The armed men, confronted by Jazeel’s relatives opted to take away the mother of Jazeel in their vehicle only to force her off their vehicle at gunpoint at Vangkaalai Junction after crossing the Mannaar bridge on their way to South along Mannaar – Medawachiya Road.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The re-immergence of fear psychosis the Jaffna District


NfR expresses its serious concern  about the deterioration of the law and order situation in  the Northern Districts of Sri Lanka.  The series of killings that have taken place during the last few weeks in the Jaffna Peninsula  raises the  question  whether   death squads  have been reactivated in the  Jaffna Peninsula.  The latest in the series of killings,  is the cold blooded murder of 28 year old  Ketheeswaran Thevarajah  of Jaffna  on 31st  December 2010. This is the fifth such killing that has taken place in Jaffna within last two weeks. None of  these  killings   have been seriously investigated or  resolved,  so far.