New York, January 29,
2010—The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by reports that
“We are receiving reports of government retribution against journalists who sided with the opposition in the election. Given the ugly history of attacks on journalists in Sri Lanka, we call on President Mahina Rajapaksa to ensure the safety of all journalists in Sri Lanka, and to use his new mandate to reverse the repressive trends of the past several years,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator.
At least 10 security agents were deployed outside the
Prageeth Eknelygoda, a political reporter for Lanka eNews, remained missing today after disappearing on the night of January 24. Several CPJ sources said they fear he was abducted. Eknelygoda was described by colleagues as a political analyst who supported opposition presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka.
Lanka eNews is blocked to online users in
Swiss Public Radio reported today that Sri Lankan
authorities have withdrawn
a visa granted to journalist Karin Wenger and have asked her to leave the
country within 48 hours. “I fear I have been kicked out for asking
uncomfortable questions at a government press conference,” Wenger, who is based
The Sinhala-language opposition weekly Lanka reported that its editor, Chandana Sirimalwatte, had been arrested around noon today. Several other news outlets picked up the report, citing Lanka as their source. CPJ is seeking to independently corroborate the arrest and the circumstances.
Fonseka, the former general who challenged Rajapaksa, has refused
to accept the outcome of the election and has vowed a legal challenge. The BBC reported
that journalists have been barred from entering the street where Fonseka’s
campaign office is located, in a tourist hotel in
The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence, a nonpartisan domestic group, said that while there were apparent irregularities in the polling, there was little evidence of large-scale fraud. About 70 percent of the country’s 14 million voters cast ballots, although the turnout in Tamil areas was only 30 percent, particularly in the northeast where the war with secessionist Tamils ended last year.