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Sri Lanka: Journalists Injured in Attack on Political Leader

December 10, 2010

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is outraged to learn of an attack on journalists at the Bandaranaike International Airport at Katunayake near Colombo on December 7.

According to information received from IFJ affiliate the Sri Lanka Working Journalist Association (SLWJA), two journalists – Shanta Wijesuriya of the news portal Lanka-e-News and Prema Lal of Sirasa TV – were injured in the attack, whose principal target was the leader of the New Left Front, Wickramabahu Karunaratne, as he returned from an overseas trip.

Attackers were heard accusing Karunaratne of treason for having spoken of Sri Lanka’s recent human rights record at several speaking engagements during his travel.

The two journalists were assigned by their news organisations to cover the return of the political leader, a candidate in the nation’s presidential election last January. Sri Lanka’s Free Media Movement (FMM), also an IFJ affiliate, believes that the attack on the two journalists was a “well coordinated action aimed at ensuring the media remain silent”.

The SLWJA has pointed out that after the initial attack, carried out in the presence of police personnel, the attackers pursued the vehicle in which the two journalists were travelling, obstructed its path and continued raining blows on the two.

“We fully endorse the call made by the SLWJA and FMM for civil society to stand up and condemn these latest manifestations of political intolerance”, IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said.

“Though we have no expectation, given the recent track record, of a serious official investigation into this outrage, we hope that the media community and civil society will join hands to fix responsibility and enforce accountability”.


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