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Sri Lanka 5 March 2008

Journalists continue to be physically attacked in connection with minister’s use of force at state TV station in December

Another employee of the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation TV broadcaster has been physically attacked in Colombo. Researcher Ranjani Aluthge was the victim of a knife attack this evening as she was returning home by bus. She has been hospitalised with a stab wound.


03.03.2008 - Journalists continue to be physically attacked in connection with minister’s use of force at state TV station in December

Reporters Without Borders condemns two physical attacks on journalists on 27 February that seem to be linked to their coverage of a December incident in which labour minister Mervyn Silva stormed into the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC), a state-owned television station, and assaulted its news director.

“Physical attacks and acts of intimidation against SLRC journalists for objecting to Silva’s use of force is intolerable,” the press freedom organisation said. “How can one account for the fact that the authorities spend more time interrogating SLRC journalists than looking for those responsible for these attacks?”

Four men armed with knives tried to attack Priyal Ranjith Perera at his home in Pitakotte, south of Colombo, in the evening of 27 February, but were forced to flee when neighbours intervened. Perera was in charge of a TV crew that filmed the December incident at SLRC.

The same day, a group of men on motorcycles circled around the home of another journalist who has written about the incident, and who had previously received suspicious phone calls on 13 and 17 February.

Silva, a controversial minister known for his hostility towards journalists, burst into SLRC headquarters on 27 December and order the thugs accompanying him to beat the station’s news director, T.M.G. Chandrasekara. Since then, journalists who helped force Silva to leave the building or who covered the incident have been targeted.

Silva’s thugs are suspected of carrying out a knife attack on 25 January on SLRC journalist Lal Hemantha Mawalage, who was hospitalised with multiple wounds to the hands and body.

According to the Free Media Movement, a local organisation, around 20 SLRC journalists have been questioned since the December incident but no one has been arrested or questioned in connection with the attacks and threats against journalists.




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