Journalist who stood up against Government MP’s thuggery attacked

ST Online

Rupavahini drama takes another violent turn

Journalist attacked by knife-wielding thugs

A TV journalist who opposed Minister Mervyn Silva’s intrusion and abuse of a colleague at Rupavahini, the national television network, escaped murder on Friday night when he was attacked by two unidentified thugs on his way home after work. Lal Hemantha Athula Mawalage is lying in a serious condition at the Colombo National Hospital after he was attacked with a knife. The incident occurred at Shanthalokagama, Annasiwatte, when he was driving his van to his home in Athurugiriya. He was kept in the Intensive Care Unit and has just been transferred to a ward.

Attacked journalist
Mr. Mawalage at the National Hospital yesterday

Mr. Mawalage was one of the speakers who roundly condemned Minister Silva in a speech at the Rupavahini premises. Minister Silva and his bodyguards stormed the Rupavahini premises on December 27 last year, and allegedly assaulted News Director T.M.D. Chandrasekera. The minister was later held hostage in the chairman’s office by Rupavahini employees for over four hours. The Police and Army were deployed to extricate Mr. Silva to safety.

Whilst no Police action was taken against Mr. Silva, the CID has been detailed to probe how the non-Cabinet Labour Minister was held hostage and allegedly assaulted. Mr. Mawalage, who was writhing in pain, told The Sunday Times, “The men tried to pull me out of the vehicle and stab me. I managed to fight them. They cut my hands in several places. I managed to drive to the Athurugiriya Police Station to make a complaint.”

Mr. Mawalage said two weeks before the incident, a double cab had deliberately knocked on his vehicle and disappeared. “After Friday’s incident, I have been receiving calls on my mobile phone threatening to kill me,” he said. A motorcycle believed to have been used by the attackers has been found by the police.

The attack on Mr. Mawalage drew condemnation from media organizations. The Free Media Movement and the Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association said they were condemning the incident and were due to issue statements. Non cabinet media minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena told The Sunday Times he condemned the attack. He said he would call for a separate inquiry into the incident.

A three member-committee appointed by the Central Committee of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party nearly three weeks after they were appointed is yet to hold a meeting.

From The Sunday Times, 27th January 2008

See also Journalist stabbing condemned on the BBC