FMM is horrified and shocked that another staff member, Mrs. Ranjani Aluthge, librarian of the of state controlled Sri Lanka Rupavahini Cooperation (SLRC) was cut with a razor knife this evening, 5th March 2008. She was on her way home traveling in a public transport bus when a young person wearing a cap cut her from her back close to her shoulder twice before getting out of the bus. Mrs. Ranjani was admitted to the Colombo general hospital and received number of stitches on the cut injuries. FMM condemns this horrible act in strongest terms.
This is the forth incident of attacks and attempted attacks on SLRC journalists and media workers that has taken place recently.
On 25th January a knife attack on journalist Lal Hemantha Mawalage took place. He was on his way home around 11.00pm when he was attacked by two men on motor bicycle who lay in wait for him. He received severe cut injuries in his right arm, was admitted to Ward 72 of the Colombo general hospital. Two days ago journalist Mawalage was asked to get his coffin ready by some unknown peson.
On the night of 29th January two persons armed with a pistol entered the house of media worker Duleep Dushantha of the state owned SLRC (Sri Lanka Rupavahini Cooperation). As he was not in the house at that time they threatened his mother with death if she informed the police of the incident.
On 27th February assistant Director News Camera Priyal Ranjith Perera of SLRC was threatened by unidentified gang while he was in his residence. They tried to attack/stab him but he was able to close the door and shouted for help.
All these journalists were involved in the spontaneous protest that sprung up on 27th December 2007 when labour Minister Mervyn de Silva stormed into the SLRC with group of thugs and assaulted its news director.
Soon after three Journalists from privately owned MTV net work who were involved in covering the 27th December incident logged a complain in Maharagama police station saying that they had received credible information of underworld persons are plotting to harm them. Two other journalists who were involved in covering the minister’s intrusion in to SLRC were followed by unknown persons recently. None of these incidents has been investigated to a completion and no culprit has been brought to the book. In this situation some journalists who played a leading role at the protest are forced to go in hiding.
These attacks and threats are creating a fear psychosis especially among the journalists who participated and covered the 27th December SLRC protest against the minister. This in turn will obstruct them performing their duty of informing people.
It is very unfortunate that our repeated requests to the government for immediate and open inquires into these incidents have not had any positive responses. Instead what we hear is an anti-media rhetoric by government high ups. Intolerance of critical reporting is being promoted to dangerous level of fearful inciting.
In this situation FMM urge all democratic forces including political parties to join with journalist’s orgnisations in protesting all these attacks and protecting what ever media freedom we have in our country today.