The Free Media Movement expresses it serious concerned that residence of two well known journalists has been ransacked by unknown gang on 16th March 2008. The two journalists are Sunethra Athugalpura of Lakbima newspaper and her husband Sirasa TV News Producer Sashi Kumara. Both journalists told FMM that they cannot think of any personal reasons for this burglary and they do not have personal enemies.
According to Sashi Kumara the gangsters had ransacked his home, scattering books and files belonging to him and his family. Nothing had been stolen from the residence and, therefore, the incident could be considered an act of intimidation, Kumara told news media.
Television Journalist Sashi Kumara was in Pakistan for a month covering February elections in Pakistan and returned home just two days before on 14th March. He has also covered the war in the northern and eastern provinces, highlighting the situation of victims of war including the refugees.
Journalist Sunetra Atugalpura a political reporter, had covered many controversial issues including interviewing Mr. Mervyn Silva after the incident at the Rupavahini Corporation.
What ever the reason may be FMM agrees with journalist couple that this could defiantly be an intimidation and a warning to frighten them for their independent reporting.
Given the environment of unofficial censorships imposed by the various sectors of the government and continuing threats, assaults and intimidation of journalists and media by state and non state actors in Sri Lanka today FMM reiterate that it is the duty of the government to take immediate steps to create an enabling environment for media practitioners to perform their duty without fear of retaliation. As far as the culture of impunity reigns there will be no end to intimidation of media in Sri Lanka. The government has willing or unwillingly failed to establish the rule of law in any single attack on media.
FMM is compelled to say that what the country needs today is not the presidential statements saying that the country is overflowing with media freedom, but the rule of law.