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Sri Lanka 15 January 2009

Reporters Without Borders backs London demonstration in protest at murder of leading editor

Reporters Without Borders today voiced its public support for a demonstration to be held in London on 15 January in protest at the killing of a prominent Sri Lankan editor.

The demonstration will be the occasion for “a new strong condemnation of the murder” of Lasantha Wickrematunga of the Sunday Leader, the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

“We urge the government to react quickly to end the climate of impunity in Sri Lanka and we urge Londoners to join the rally in memory of the murdered journalist, to condemn repression and the critical situation for journalists in Sri Lanka", the organisation said.

The demonstration, organised by the editor’s colleagues and backed by Reporters Without Borders and other organisations, will take place from 2 to 5pm outside the residence of the prime minister of the United Kingdom at 10 Downing Street.

The objective is to denounce the killing of Lasantha Wickrematunga, a crackdown on the media and the desperate plight of many of the country’s journalists.

At least 4,000 people demonstrated in the streets of the capital Colombo calling for justice during the funeral on 12 January of the outspoken editor of the Sunday Leader who was highly critical of the government.

Demonstrators wore black arms bands and chanted anti-government slogans. It was the biggest demonstration against the government of Mahinda Rajapaksa since he took power more than three years ago. The government has denied any implication in the murder of the editor and has promised to carry out a thorough investigation.

In his final editorial, published posthumously on 11 January, the journalist said he knew that he was being targeted by the government. “When finally I am killed, it will be the government that kills me”, he wrote.

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