Archive for January, 2011

Today is the first anniversary of the disappearance of Prageeth Eknaligoda, a cartoonist and political analyst who worked for the Lanka-e-News website. He went missing in Colombo on 24 January 2010. The investigation into his disappearance has drawn a blank, despite the promises initially made by the authorities.

The situation for journalists in Sri Lanka continues to be very disturbing. Under the system of media control and intimidation established by President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government, state media journalists are censored and journalists with the privately-owned media censor themselves. Those that dare to criticize the president or his associates, as Prageeth did, risk serious reprisals.

Reporters Without Borders condemns the failure to assign resources to the investigation into Prageeth’s disappearance. President Rajapaksa must make an effort to establish what happened to this journalist and quickly offer some answers to his family, who have been left to worry for the past year without being told anything.

Cartooning for Peace and Reporters Without Borders are marking this sad anniversary by launching an international support campaign, using 12 cartoons by cartoonists throughout the world to symbolize each of the 12 months that Prageeth has been missing.

Prageeth’s wife, Sandya Ekneligoda, wrote to the former and current media ministers on 13 December about the lack of progress in the investigation despite the promises that the former minister gave on 10 February and the current minister gave on 7 May. She said her two children were suffering from their father’s absence and the failure to provide any explanation about his disappearance.

Together with Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka (JDS), Reporters Without Borders has just relayed an appeal about the literary festival taking place in the southern city of Galle from 26 to 30 January. Addressed to the Galle Literary Festival’s organizers and to the writers who are planning to attend, it does not call for a boycott but urges them to give some thought to the situation of dissident writers, journalists and cartoonists in Sri Lanka, including Prageeth.

The Alliance of Media Organizations staged a demonstration outside the main station in Colombo on 18 January about Prageeth’s disappearance and newspaper editor Lasantha Wickrematunga’s January 2009 murder. The participants chanted: “One year since Prageeth’s disappearance, two years since Lasantha assassinated – do we allow injustice?”

At least 14 journalists have been murdered in Sri Lanka since 2006, three have disappeared and more than 30 others have been forced to flee the country. Reporters Without Borders was ranked 158th out of 178 countries in the 2010 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.



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Freedom of Expression news from Sri Lanka

Monthly report No 12; period covered December 2010


1. Dec 2010No killings of media personal reported

2. 26 Dec 2010 – Director education in Jaffna shot dead for speaking out

Deputy Director of Education of the Valikamam zone of the Jaffna District who refused to direct the students of the schools in his zone to recite the National Anthem in Sinhala only and spoke against the Sinhala only dicision was shot dead in Jaffna on the same day when the controversial government sponsored Tsunami Commemoration Day Ceremony was held in Jaffna. – NfR


3. Dec 2010 No abductions of media personal reported


4. Dec 2010 – No media personal were arrested


5. 08 Dec 2010 – Two journalists assaulted at the Airport

Lanka E News journalist Shantha Wijesuriya and Sirasa TV Airport correspondent Premalal were attacked by a group of persons purported to be BIA employees. Wijesuriya suffered serious injuries and had to seek treatment at a hospital.According to reports, the journalists had been assaulted when they were covering an attack on Dr. Wickremabahu Karunaratne, Leader of the New Left Front, and his supporters, by a group of BIA employees, allegedly under government patronage.


6. 08 Dec 2010- Leader of political party assaulted for speaking out

A group mobbed comrade Vickramabahu Karunaratne when he stepped out of the airport to be welcomed by NSSP officials, party members, trade union leaders, lawyers and human rights activists.A mob including those in aviation authority uniforms who surrounded called him a ‘traitor’ and accused him of disgracing the country. Several well wishers including females who came to his rescue were injured.


7. 12 Dec 2010 – Tamil journalist attacked in Batticaloa

An unidentified three person gang attacked a Tamil journalist Manikkapody Sasikumar, 35, in Batticaloa district, on 12th night around 7.30 p.m., causing severe injuries on his hands and head. Sasikumar was admitted to the Batticaloa Teaching Hospital for treatment. http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=33213


8. 11 Dec 2010 – Minister endorses vigilante violence against free speech

Deputy Minister Sarath Kumara Gunaratna told LakbimaNews: ” It was patriotic people who were enraged by the betrayal of Karunaratne who assaulted them, but I am happy that even ordinary people of this country are taking their patriotic duty seriously and acting against traitors. I can tell you that in the future, it does not matter whether they are politicians or journalists. People will beat up anyone who betrays this country. That is what I call people’s power. People will take to task anyone who betrays this country and its leader.” http://www.lakbimanews.lk/special/spe8.htm

9. 14 Dec 2010Minister admits using violence against dissent

“We assaulted the protesting students at the Dehiwala Higher Technical Institute and chased them away leaving them only with their underwear and, in Peradeniya, we stripped the fasting students naked and chased them away. It took only four minutes to slap two or three on their ears and chase them. They ran along the street in their underwear around 8 p.m.” …….. “In Peradeniya …… there was a big fast. We went (there) around at 3 a.m. ………. We stripped them naked and chased them away.”


10. 19 Dec 2010 – London protestors to be arrested if arrived in Lanka

Intelligence authorities are investigating the Sri Lankans who had protested against president Mahinda Rajapaksa in London.They are studying the related video footage to gather information about the participants of the demonstrations. They will be arrested if they come to Sri Lanka, intelligence sources have told ‘Lakbima.’


11. 19 Dec 2010 – Army media unit threatens two journalists serving foreign media

It is reported that Maj. Mahinda, an officer of the Army media unit has threatened the photographer of the Reuters Dinuke Liyanawatta and Eranga Jayawardene, photographer of the French News service (AFP) with death.


12. 21 Dec 2010 – Minister threatened to cut the mouth with a razor blade

On 21st December Minister Mervyn Silva threatened to cut with a razor knife, the mouth of the person who gave the media news of him being castigated by the President for wearing a coloured batik shirt to the weekly cabinet meeting. He wanted this threat to be carried in the media.



13. 04 Dec 2010 – Outdated laws used to prevent the displaying of posters: 24 arrested

The Centre for Human Rights (CHR) – Sri Lanka has received information that 24 individuals have been arrested in the last few months for pasting posters and stresses that using outdated sections of the penal code to arrest and press charges against activists can be considered as an attack on the freedom of expression. http://sunandadeshapriya.wordpress.com/2010/12/04/

14. 05 Dec 2010 – National Anthem only in Sinhala; Tamil version out

Sri Lanka’s national anthem will remain only in Sinhala, the Cabinet decided on Wednesday. The move will mean that the current Tamil version will no longer be played at any official or state functions. At present, the Sinhala version of Sri Lanka Matha is used in all parts of the country with the exception of the North and the East which have a large Tamil population.


15. 11 Dec 2010 – Vice Chancellor bans human rights defender speaking at university

The Vice Chancellor of the University of Colombo ”had refused permission for an internationally renowned Sri Lankan human rights defender and a recipient of the 1998 Human Rights Award in commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to speak.” at ’”an event to be held on the campus of Colombo University and co-hosted by the Law Faculty and the University’s Human Rights Centre, in collaboration with the UNDP and UNFPA.”



16. Dec 2010`- No reports of media personal leaving the country


17. 30 Dec 2010 – Less anti-media violence in 2010 but more obstruction and self-censorship

Reporters Without Borders condemns the new forms of censorship and obstruction being used by government to prevent diverse and freely-reported media coverage of the situation in Sri Lanka.



18. Dec 2010 – No press freedom protest held

Notable developments:

19. 04 Dec 2010 – Lasantha Wickremesinghe case taken up for 38 time

The case pertaining to the murder of Lasantha Wickremathunga, which took place on January 8, 2009, almost two years ago, was taken up on 3rd December for the 38th time. Submitting a report the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) told the court that the case pertaining to the assassination of veteran journalist Lasantha Wickrematunga had been handed over to the Terrorist Investigation Division(TID).


20. 05 Dec 2010 – Cable TV operators to pay Rs. 10 mn each day in taxes

Licensed cable TV operators could end up paying levies amounting to as much as Rs. 10 million a day, if the government goes ahead with plans of extending the Rs. 200,000 levy on imported programmes and Rs. 25,000 on imported films currently applicable to terrestrial TV to the cable TV sector as well.


21. 05 Dec 2010 – Journalist Isaipriya was by 53rd Division troops in May 2009

The female Tamil journalist, Isaipriya alias Shoba (27), was killed during the final stages of the war by the troops belonging to 53rd Division of the Sri Lankan Army, in an execution-style murder at an unknown location in the island’s northern battle-zone. The mutilated naked body of the rebel media specialist was showed in a shocking video footage aired by British TV, Channel 4 recently.


22. 12 Dec 2010 – Appeal judge ‘criticised police’ ( over Prageeth case)

The judge in appeal court hearing the case of the disappearance of lankaenews journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda criticised the state counsellor for not filing the objections on behalf of the police. State counsel was pleading for a postponement of proceedings of the case citing that the police officers needed more time for their submissions. http://www.bbc.co.uk/sinhala/news/story/2010/12/101214_prageeth.shtml

the end

Microsoft Word – MEDIAFREEDOMSRILANKA monthly report No 12 Dec 2010.pdf

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