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Sri Lanka 5 July 2008

Appeal for information about Colombo attack on press freedom activist

Any person with credible information about an attack on journalist Namal Perera, a co-ordinqtor of the Sri Lanka Press Institute (SLPI), on 30 June in Colombo is invited to send it to the International Press Freedom Mission by fax, email or telephone.

The Publishers and Editors Guild of Sri Lanka has offered a reward of 5 million rupees (more than 45,000 dollars) for information leading to the arrest of those responsible.

Six men in a white van tried to kidnap Perera on 30 June as he was driving in a vehicle with British embassy employee Mahendra Ratnaweera. The assailants broke the vehicle’s windows in their attempt to grab Perera. "It is you, Namal, we are going to kidnap," one of them cried in Sinhalese before they were all forced to flee because of protests from passers-by. Both Ratnaweera and Perera sustained injuries in the course of the attack.

Two soldiers on a motorcycle approached the SLPI’s office the same day, while the Sinhalese nationalist newspaper Dinamina accused the SLPI of sending members of the Tamil Tiger rebels abroad to prepare attacks.

A journalist who has specialised in military matters, Perera is one of those in charge of the SLPI’s press freedom campaign. He and another SLPI member have been in hiding since the 30 June attack.

Anyone who witnessed the attack or have any credible information should send an email to HelpPressSriLanka@gmail.com, send a fax to +33 1 4523-1151 or leave a telephone message at + 33 6 3273-2108. The message can be in English, Sinhala or Tamil.




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