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Sri Lanka

2010

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Sandhya Eknelygoda and sons Sanjay and Harith. (CPJ)

Prageeth Eknelygoda has been missing since January 24 of this year. He was a political cartoonist and columnist for Lanka eNews, a website whose editor, Sandaruwan Senadheera, was forced into exile. In Sri Lanka's highly partisan media climate, Lanka eNews backed the wrong presidential candidate, Sarath Fonseka, who not only lost but was jailed on politicized fraud charges. 



In this video companion to CPJ's 2010 census of imprisoned journalists, Sri Lankan columnist J.S. Tissainayagam describes his own time in prison and how international advocacy can make a difference in winning the freedom of jailed reporters, editors, photojournalists, and bloggers. (4:09)

Read the special report "Iran, China drive prison tally to 14-year high" and view our database of journalists in prison.

New York, July 30, 2010—Two employees were injured in an arson attack today on the offices of the Voice of Asia Network in the heart of Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo, according to international and local media reports. The fire destroyed the studios of the group’s Siyatha TV station, but the network’s three radio stations have been able to remain on the air.

Prageeth Eknelygoda’s wife, Sandhya, at left, has been in close contact with CPJ since his disappearance on the night of January 24, just two days before the hotly contested Sri Lankan presidential elections. She was a primary source for our May investigative report, In Sri Lanka, no peace dividend for press. As we noted in our alert today, she has started to organize prayer vigils at Hindu and Buddhist temples and Christian churches around the country, trying to pressure the government into helping her locate her husband. Although they have had no word from him, she and her two sons, 16 and 13, are convinced Eknelygoda, below, is still alive.

A poster of Eknelygoda.

New York, July 23, 2010—Six months after the unexplained disappearance of Sri Lankan journalist and cartoonist Prageeth Eknelygoda, the government has refused to offer any assistance or provide answers to his wife, Sandhya. The government’s attitude is a clear indicator of the anti-media polices of President Mahindra Rajapaksa, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Eknelygoda, a political reporter and cartoonist for Lanka eNews, disappeared on the night of January 24, two days before the presidential elections that gave the incumbent president a sweeping victory that will keep him power for six more years.

Before he disappeared on January 24, Prageeth Eknelygoda was a journalist, columnist, and cartoonist. Here are some examples of his cartoons from a show at Colombo's Lionel Wendt Gallery in May. His wife, Sandhya, has given us permission to use them.

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New York, June 19, 2010The Committee to Protect Journalist welcomes the arrival in the United States of Sri Lankan journalist J.S. Tissainayagam, who arrived at Washington’s Dulles International Airport on Saturday morning. He was met there by friends. According to CPJ representative Kamel Labidi, who was on hand to meet Tissa, “He was all smiles, and said to thank everyone who helped him gain his freedom.”
The end of Sri Lanka’s war with Tamil rebels has not eased repression of independent media. Journalists still face violence, harassment, and detention. Will President Rajapaksa use his victories on the battlefield and in the polling booth to reunite the nation and restore free expression? A CPJ Special Report by Bob Dietz and Robert Mahoney

President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the swearing-in ceremony for his cabinet. (AP/Eranga Jayawardena)
By Robert Mahoney

 

A bullet hole, right, is a reminder that M.V. Kaanamylnathan and his newspaper have faced grave threats. (CPJ/Robert Mahoney) JAFFNA, Sri Lanka
M.V. Kaanamylnathan hasn’t left his office for four years. Sri Lanka’s civil war is over but the editor-in-chief of the Tamil daily Uthayan still thinks it’s unsafe to venture out. He’s become famous among the island’s media community for his self-imposed house arrest. The colonial-era compound housing the editorial offices and printing press are guarded, but not especially tightly, reflecting an easing of tension since the defeat of Tamil secessionists in May 2009. 

By Bob Dietz

No prosecutions have been brought in the Lasantha Wickramatunga murder. (Reuters/Andrew Caballero-Reynolds)

CPJ’s March 2009 special report, “Failure to Investigate,” addressed three severe attacks on the media in January of that year. CPJ also found a broad pattern in which “top journalists had been killed, attacked, threatened, and harassed since the government began to pursue an all-out military victory over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in late 2006.”

2010

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Killed in Sri Lanka

19 journalists killed since 1992

10 journalists murdered

10 murdered with impunity

Attacks on the Press 2012

23 Journalists in exile, one of the highest rates in the world.

Country data, analysis »

Contact

Asia

Program Coordinator:
Bob Dietz

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