Photo: FMM presents its short term proposals to President Maithripala Sirisena

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) heartily congratulates newly elected Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena. The IFJ calls on President Sirisena to ensure he delivers on the short-term proposal on re-establishing freedom of expression rights in Sri Lanka put to him by the Free Media Movement in December 2014.

The IFJ also congratulates the Sri Lankan people, media and its affiliates – the Sri Lankan Working Journalists Association (SLWJA) and the Free Media Movement (FMM) – for the successful and peaceful election.

Mr. Sirisena was elected President of Sri Lanka in the presidential election on January 7, 2015 ending the decade-long rule of Mahinda Rajapaksha, whose tenure saw media restrictions and harassments for many journalists.

Jane Worthington, the IFJ Asia Pacific acting director, said: “The IFJ congratulates the Sri Lankan people, media and newly elected president; and calls for media freedom and the safety of journalists to be at the forefront of the President’s reforms.”

The IFJ added: “The FMM put forward a media reform proposal while expressing support to Mr. Sirisena on December 16, 2014 and the IFJ hopes that the proposal will be looked into with highest priority by the government.”

The FMM proposal for media reforms include enforcement of the Freedom of Information Act, abolishment of impunity in the crimes against journalists, ensuring of independence of press, and ending the censorship on media.

The cabinet had approved the Freedom of Information Act in February 2004 under the premiership of Ranil Wickremasinghe, who has been re-appointed as the Prime Minister in the new government.

The IFJ said: “Impunity is a major issue for press freedom in Sri Lanka as investigations into killings, disappearance, attacks and threats on journalists and media institutions have not taken place. The IFJ urges the new Sri Lankan government to immediately establish mechanism to investigate crimes against journalists and ensure the safety of media workers across the country.”

It’s notable that over the past several years, the press freedom index in Sri Lanka has been on a steady decline. There has been systematic harassment to the media, with killings, attacks and threats to opposition voices; forced exiles and restriction attempts such as police questioning to media, restrictions on online media and threats to organizations training journalists, especially those from Tamil dominated areas.

The IFJ added: “It’s an opportunity for Sri Lanka and new government to ensure the democratic governance by ensuring complete media freedom and respect to freedom of expression.”

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its partners in the South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN) strongly condemn the June 29 crackdown by Sri Lanka’s police and security agencies, in which the offices of two web-based news sites were raided and nine media workers arrested.

The IFJ learns from Sri Lankan affiliates that a team of approximately 25 law enforcement officials arrived at the shared premises of the two websites, SriLankaXNews and SriLankaMirror, on Friday morning. All the media workers present were detained within the locked premises for three hours and questioned by the police, following which they were taken away to the headquarters of the Crime Investigation Department (CID). They are yet to be released and no formal explanation has been issued by the police authorities on the reasons for their arrest.

Computers and other equipment were confiscated from the premises of the news websites.

Concurrently, the police also raided the residence of Ruwan Ferdinandez, formerly with the SriLankaMirror and now editor-in-chief of SriLankaXNews. The latter is widely regarded as the news website of Sri Lanka’s principal opposition, the United National Party.

Just the day before the raids, Sri Lanka’s government had ordered the country’s main internet services to cut off access to five Tamil-language news websites: TamilWin, Athirvu, Sarithan, Ponguthamil and Pathivu.

“We note that this crackdown occurs immediately after the government ordered the dissolution of the elected governing councils in three provinces of the country, including the politically sensitive eastern province”, said the IFJ Asia-Pacific.

“The raids on independent media speak of an intent to seriously curb critical commentary during the campaign and run-up to fresh elections in these provinces”.

SriLankaMirror was one of five websites blocked by the government in November 2011, following a directive that all websites carrying news and current affairs content on the country should be registered with the Ministry of Information.

It was subsequently unblocked on condition that it would not provide links to any unregistered websites.

In May, Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court declined to hear a petition filed under the fundamental rights clauses of the Constitution, seeking that the restraints on accessing the websites be removed.

“We are deeply saddened that despite the return of peace and relative political stability in Sri Lanka, the intolerance for independent media reporting and commentary shows no signs of abating”, said the IFJ Asia-Pacific.

“We demand the immediate release of the nine detained media workers and the removal of all restrictions on accessing the websites that have been at the receiving end of the government’s unwelcome attention”.

சண் தவராஜா

சிவராம் நினைவு நிகழ்வு மற்றும் தராக்கி ஆவணப்படம் திரையிடல் சென்னையில் ஏப்ரல் 29ஆம் திகதி நடைபெற்றது. திரைப்படத்துறையினர் சென்னை ஊடகவியலாளர்கள் ஆய்வாளர்கள் என பலரும் கலந்து கொண்டனர். சென்னை எம் எம் திரையரங்கில் தராக்கி ஆவணப்படம் திரையிடப்பட்டது. சிவராம் கொல்லப்பட்டு 7 ஆண்டுகள் கழித்து இந்த ஆவணப்படம் வெளியிடப்படுகிறது. சிவராம் கொல்லப்பட்டபோது சென்னையில் ஒரு சில கண்டனக் கூட்டங்கள் நடைபெற்ற பின்னர் முதல் தடவையாக இந்த நினைவு நிகழ்வு நடைபெற்றது. இந்த ஆவனப்படதினை ஊடவியலாளரும் ஆவணப்பட இயக்குனருமான சோமிதரன் தயாரித்திருந்தார்.

சிவாரம் கொலைக்கு பின்னர் சரிநிகர் பத்திரிகை ஆசிரியர் சிவகுமாருடன் இணைந்து இலங்கை தமிழ் ஊடவியாலாளர்கள் மற்றும் ஊடகவியல் குறித்து ஒரு ஆவணப்படத்திற்கான ஓளிப்பதிவை ஆரம்பித்து தொடர்ச்சியாக ஆவணப்படுத்தி வந்தனர்.இந்த நிலையில் அதில் ஒரு பகுதியாக சிவராம் நினைவாக “தராக்கி ஒரு பத்திரிகையாளனின் பயணம்” ஆவணப்படம் சுவிஸ் சிவராம் ஞாபகார்த மன்றத்தின் அனுசரணையுடன் திரையடப்பட்டது.

இந்த படத்தில் சிவராமுடன் நெருக்கமாக இருந்தவர்கள் சிவராமின் மனைவி மற்றும் பிள்ளைகள் எனப் பலரும் சிவராம் குறித்து இந்த படத்தில் பேசியிfருக்கிறார்கள். ஒரு ஊடகவியலாளனின் பயணமும் மரணத்துள்ளான வாழ்வும் கண்ணெதிரே தெரியும் மரணத்தை எதிர்கொண்டு ஊடகப் பணியாற்றியதும் படத்தில் பதிவு செய்யப்பட்டுள்ளது.
Taraki a journalist journey . 55 min Tamil and English. direction by Someetharan . editing by P kamalakannan