Sri Lanka

2011


Blog   |   Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka's savage smokescreen

Sri Lanka's former attorney general Mohan Peiris, who is now the senior legal adviser to the cabinet and who many Sri Lankans say is aiming to become the next Supreme Court Chief Justice, has made conflicting statements about missing journalist Prageeth Eknelygoda. The discrepancies do more than point up the government's indifference to Eknelygoda's fate and the mental anguish of his wife and two sons. Peiris's statements highlight the disregard with which the government views international opinion.

Alerts   |   Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan government to impose guidelines on media

President Rajapaksa's government is imposing new guidelines on the Sri Lankan media. (Reuters)

New York, November 10, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned by the Sri Lankan government's announcement of an upcoming set of guidelines and code of conduct for journalists and media organizations, and believes these regulations will only increase the government's control of the media.

The announcement, which appeared Thursday in the government-owned Daily News, said the government would "soon introduce a set of guidelines and a code of conduct for media to be adhered to by all media institutions and media persons in the country." The announcement also stated that the government would set up the guidelines, which would be enforced under the relevant laws.

November 10, 2011 1:37 PM ET

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Blog   |   Sri Lanka

Advice for colleagues on the digital front lines

If you're running a website that's come under attack, or is likely to, here is some advice on how to protect yourself.

First, a little background:

On Monday we filed an alert about the Sri Lankan government's blocking of at least five websites there. The move silenced just about all of the country's independent online voices. Two websites, Groundviews and its sister Sinhala site Vikalpa, have survived a few temporary takedowns, but for now they seem to be about the last two journalism sites posting independent analyses about Sri Lankan politics that are still up and running.

Alerts   |   Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka, anti-government website blocked

New York, October 19, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by reports that access to anti-government news website Lanka eNews has been blocked inside Sri Lanka, according to the site's exiled editor and users inside the country. All three language versions of the site, English, Sinhala, and Tamil, have not been available since Tuesday. 

October 19, 2011 2:21 PM ET

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Blog   |   Sri Lanka

On 9/11 and post-conflict Sri Lanka

For a few years now, I have used Sugi Ganeshananthan's articles as a frame of reference for CPJ advocacy in Sri Lanka. Ganeshananthan, a novelist and essayist who teaches at the University of Michigan, writes stories often grounded in current events. Her 2008 novel, Love Marriage, addresses the cultural and familial conflicts that Sri Lankans face all over the world.

September 6, 2011 12:30 PM ET

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Blog   |   Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Mexico, Russia, Sri Lanka, UK, USA

Journalists take stage: Q&A with 'Record' playwright

A promotional image for "On the Record," which opens this week at London's Arcola Theatre.

The true stories of journalists from Mexico, Sri Lanka, Russia, the United States, and the Occupied Palestinian Territories will hit the stage July 20 at London's Arcola Theatre. "On the Record," which runs through August 13, examines the careers of six journalists, the risks they face, and their determination to make an impact through their work. This is the latest production by the UK-based Ice and Fire theater company, founded in 2003 to explore human rights stories through performance. Christine Bacon, Ice and Fire's artistic director and co-author of "On the Record," discusses the production's inspiration, messages, and challenges in this CPJ interview. 

Blog   |   Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka's Groundviews back online after takedown

A note for the Sri Lanka watchers who visit CPJ.org regularly. Sanjana Hattotuwa, the founder of the citizen journalism website Groundviews messaged me this morning to say that the site is up and running again after suddenly going down within Sri Lanka over the weekend. Hattotuwa is the driving force behind the site, which is headquartered at the Center for Policy Alternatives, an independent Sri Lankan think tank.  

June 20, 2011 5:39 PM ET

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Reports   |   Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iran, Journalist Assistance, Pakistan, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Syria

Journalists in exile 2011: Iran, Cuba drive out critics

Two of the world’s most repressive nations each forced at least 18 journalists to flee their homes in the past year. In exile, these journalists face enormous challenges. A CPJ special report by Elisabeth Witchel.

Newly freed Cuban detainees and their families in a bus after their arrival in Madrid. Exile was the price the detainees paid for their freedom. (AP/Victor R. Caivano)

Blog   |   Sri Lanka

BBC coverage of Prageeth Eknelygoda's disappearance

Sandhya Eknelygoda, here with her sons, is still seeking information her missing husband Prageeth. (CPJ)

A short follow-up to yesterday's alert about Sandhya Eknelygoda--"Sri Lankan journalist missing for 500 days"--and her attempts to get assistance from anyone in the Sri Lankan government or at the United Nations to help her learn more about the disappearance of her husband, Prageeth. The BBC's Colombo correspondent Charles Haviland produced a story about Eknelygoda and her two teenage sons, Harith and Sanjay, and puts their story in the context of the other disappearances in Sri Lanka. It's a powerful piece. Follow this link to the BBC story.  

June 9, 2011 4:59 PM ET

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Alerts   |   Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan journalist missing for 500 days

A missing poster for Eknelygoda.

New York, June 8, 2011--It has been exactly 500 days since Sri Lankan journalist Prageeth Eknelygoda disappeared. He has not been seen by his wife Sandhya Eknelygoda or by the couple's two teenage sons, Sanjay and Harith, since he left for work around 7:30 a.m., on the morning of January 24, 2010. Sandhya filed a complaint with the local police office at 11:30 a.m. the next day but so far no government official has given her information about her husband's whereabouts. His family and colleagues at the Lanka eNews website where he worked have no idea what has become of Eknelygoda.

Reports   |   Multimedia, Sri Lanka

Video Report: Murdered With Impunity

In “Murdered With Impunity," Sri Lankan journalist Sonali Samarasinghe describes the unsolved murder of her husband, the editor Lasantha Wickramatunga. Although Wickramatunga was beaten to death on a busy street in broad daylight, the government has failed to apprehend his attackers. (3:32)

Read our accompanying special report, “Getting Way With Murder.” Please visit our Global Campaign Against Impunity and see how you can help. CPJ's Global Campaign Against Impunity is underwritten by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

June 1, 2011 12:01 AM ET

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Blog   |   Iraq, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka

Video: 'Living in silence: Journalists in exile'

We write a lot at CPJ about the terrible things that happen to journalists because of their reporting, but we don't often get a chance to show you what happens to them after they are forced to flee their homes and land abroad. This video, about three such journalists, is worth watching.

Alerts   |   Sri Lanka

Another Lanka eNews journalist arrested

New York, April 25, 2011--Police arrested a journalist with the independent Sri Lankan news website Lanka eNews today, according to local news reports. CPJ has called on the United Nations and the international diplomatic community this year to respond to a series of uninvestigated attacks targeting the outspoken site. 

Blog   |   Sri Lanka

U.N. vows transparency on Sri Lanka abuses

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa. (Reuters)

The three-person panel of experts on Sri Lanka appointed in 2010 to look into possible war crimes during the decades-long conflict with Tamil secessionists submitted its findings to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday. That report should include the attacks on the news media that have become a reality for journalists working there.

April 13, 2011 1:49 PM ET

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Alerts   |   Sri Lanka

Diplomatic corps must act to free ailing Sri Lankan journalist

New York, March 31, 2001--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on the international diplomatic community in Colombo to help secure the release of Lanka eNews website News Editor Bennet Rupasinghe. According to colleagues in Colombo and international news reports, Rupasinghe was arrested by police after responding to a summons. He was called to give a statement about allegedly threatening a brother of a suspect who is in custody over the arson attack on the site's office on January 31.

March 31, 2011 4:56 PM ET

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Blog   |   Sri Lanka

U.N. to investigate Prageeth Eknelygoda's disappearance

One of Prageeth Eknelygoda's last cartoons.

Tuesday's letter from CPJ and four other groups to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon apparently had some impact. The Canadian Press reported today that Ban has asked the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and UNESCO, which oversees press freedom, to look into the case of Prageeth Eknelygoda, a Sri Lankan columnist and cartoonist missing for more than a year.

March 9, 2011 5:30 PM ET

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Alerts   |   Sri Lanka

Media rights groups to U.N.: Intervene in Sri Lanka case

A missing poster for Eknelygoda.

New York, March 8, 2011--Five prominent media rights organizations sent a letter on Monday to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, calling on the U.N. to intervene in the case of Prageeth Eknelygoda, the Sri Lankan columnist and cartoonist for the Lanka eNews website, who disappeared on January 24, 2010. Since then, the letter notes, his wife, Sandhya Eknelygoda, has been asking the Sri Lankan government for any information about his fate. She has been given no word from any person in the government. Eknelygoda's disappearance and his wife's efforts on his behalf have been widely reported in Sri Lankan and international media.

Blog   |   Sri Lanka

Why hasn't the U.N. reached out to Sandhya Eknelygoda?

On February 18, we noted that the United Nations in New York finally said it received a letter from Sandhya Eknelygoda, the wife of missing journalist Prageeth Eknelygoda. Sandhya had given the letter to the U.N. representative in Colombo, Neil Buhne, on January 24, the first anniversary of her husband's disappearance. It was also channeled to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said. 

February 24, 2011 12:21 PM ET

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Blog   |   Sri Lanka

Request for help for Prageeth: Lost in the mail?

Finally, there has been some movement in the case of Prageeth Eknelygoda, at left, the Sri Lankan journalist who disappeared on January 24, 2010. The United Nations says it has received a letter from Eknelygoda's wife, Sandhya, that she had handed over to the U.N. representative in Colombo, Neil Buhne, on January 24, the anniversary of his disappearance.  

February 18, 2011 1:50 PM ET

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Blog   |   CPJ, Pakistan, Sri Lanka

At Attacks launch: What if governments are perpetrators?

Umar Cheema

When we launched the new edition of Attacks on the Press at the United Nations today, I was hit with questions about Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Both dealt with what amounts to the same problem: What do you do when you're asking a government to investigate a crime in which it might have been the perpetrator? 

The Sri Lanka question came first. What is happening in the case of Prageeth Eknelygoda, a critical cartoonist and columnist who disappeared more than a year ago? The question starts around 17:07 on the U.N.'s archived webcast of the event. The Pakistan question, which starts at around 33:55, addresses the case of Umar Cheema, another critical columnist. Both Pakistan and Sri Lanka get ample coverage in this year's Attacks on the Press.

February 15, 2011 4:50 PM ET

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Attacks on the Press   |   Afghanistan, Burma, China, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam

Attacks on the Press 2010: Asia Analysis

Partisan Journalism and the Cycle of Repression

With journalists in their midst, police and protesters clash in Bangkok. (Reuters/Chaiwat Subprasom)

by Bob Dietz and Shawn W. Crispin

Lal Wickramatunga's family and publishing house, Leader Publications, have paid dearly in Sri Lanka's highly charged political climate. While Leader's newspapers, including the weekly Sunday Leader, are widely known for tough, independent reporting, they have been caught up in a partisan media environment, one filled with violence and censorship. Wickramatunga's brother has been murdered, his company has been sued, and his journalists face intimidation.

Attacks on the Press   |   Sri Lanka

Attacks on the Press 2010: Sri Lanka

Top Developments
• Anti-government cartoonist missing; police make no evident effort to find him.
• Government readies plan for a strict media regulatory agency.

Key Statistic
19: Journalists in exile, having fled violence, imprisonment, and intimidation.


In his Independence Day speech on February 4, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa declared that the country "cannot be developed with harassment, gross punishments, or by the gun." But the sentence that followed--"Discipline is not revenge"--hinted at the repressive measures his administration would continue to pursue against critical news media.

February 15, 2011 12:14 AM ET

Alerts   |   Sri Lanka

United Nations must intervene to protect Sri Lanka's media

The offices of Sri Lankan website Lanka eNews were completely destroyed in an arson attack today. (Lanka eNews)

New York, January 31, 2011--Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon must press the United Nations to address the string of uninvestigated and unprosecuted attacks on journalists and media houses under the government of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. CPJ responded after an early Monday morning arson attack on the offices of the independent Sri Lankan website Lanka eNews in the Malabe suburb of the capital, Colombo. Staff members told CPJ that everything in the offices had been destroyed, although no one was injured in the 2 a.m. raid. The outspoken website posted pictures of the destruction

Blog   |   Sri Lanka

Lasantha--journalist, activist, citizen--deserves justice

A drawing of slain editor Lasantha Wickramatunga stands in the lobby of The Sunday Leader. (CPJ)

On January 13, President Mahinda Rajapaksa told Sri Lankan media his government had no evidence to continue an investigation into the murder of Sri Lankan editor Lasantha Wickramatunga. Rajapaksa made this comment in response to a question raised by Lasantha's brother Lal in the presence of about 60 media personnel, including editors, publishers and government ministers, at a customary monthly presidential breakfast. 

Rajapaksa's nonchalance over an investigation he himself publicly promised to initiate in the wake of the murder and amid allegations his government was involved, came just five days after Wickramatunga's family and colleagues commemorated the prominent journalist's second anniversary of his death.

January 19, 2011 3:56 PM ET

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Blog   |   Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka, press marks a bitter anniversary

The son of missing cartoonist Prageeth Eknelygoda seeks justice at a Colombo rally. (Paba Deshapriya)

In recent years, January has emerged as Sri Lanka's cruelest month for journalists. To commemorate that ugly fact, 100 journalists and press freedom activists gathered Tuesday outside the Fort Railway Station in the capital, Colombo, demanding that the government expedite investigations into a series of attacks and January killings that occurred in both 2009 and 2010. 

January 19, 2011 2:52 PM ET

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Blog   |   Sri Lanka

An appeal to help the family of a disappeared journalist

Sri Lankan cartoonist and political reporter Prageeth Eknelygoda disappeared almost one year ago today. He was last seen leaving the Colombo offices of the political Website Lanka eNews, where he worked, late on the evening of Sunday, January 24, 2010. No one has heard from Eknelygoda since.

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