Sunday, January 18, 2009

Outspoken Journalist Killed in Sri Lanka

Amnesty International report that on 8th January, a brave Sri Lankan journalist paid the ultimate price for freedom of expression. Lasantha Wickramatunga, the editor of the Sunday Leader newspaper, was shot by unidentified gunmen while on his way to work. He died a few hours later of his injuries. The Sunday Leader newspaper is known in Sri Lanka for its articles exposing political corruption in privatization deals and for drawing attention to human rights abuses in connection with the recent upsurge in fighting between the government and the opposition Tamil Tigers.

This isn’t the first time that the Sunday Leader and its staff have come under attack. In 2006, Mr. Wickramatunga was threatened with arrest over an article critical of the president. In 2007, the printing presses of the Leader group of publications were attacked by 10 armed men who threatened employees and set fire to some of the equipment.

Mr. Wickramatunga’s murder occurred just two days after the privately owned MVC/MTV television studios were ransacked by a gang of thugs. MVC/MTV had also been critical of the government.

At least 14 journalists or other media workers have been killed in Sri Lanka over the past three years. More than 20 journalists have left the country due to death threats. Others have been arbitrarily arrested, tortured and disappeared while in custody of the security forces.

Amnesty International suggest: Please take a few minutes out of your day to email President Rajapaksa (priu@presidentsoffice.lk or modadm@sltnet.lk) and Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya (slembassy@slembassyusa.org ). Tell them an independent investigation into Mr. Wickramatunga’s murder and the other attacks on journalists is urgently needed now. His killers must be found and tried. Otherwise, they may have more stories like this one to report in future.

IMO: Presumably this suggestion refers to all, and, I would have thought, in particular to Tamilians, who may be need to acqaint Delhi with the sort of regime in Colombo they continue to support. Lets face it, any thinking person who knows the background can soon work out some of the causes of the Gandhi assassinations, and we do not want the necessity for more deaths of that kind, either.

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