18th April 2008, Colombo, Sri Lanka: The Free Media Movement (FMM) is appalled to place on record that its Treasurer, journalist K. Rushangan, has received threats demanding the payment of a ransom before 25th April 2008.
K. Rushangan is the Editor of the Tamil language news and information website www.inllanka.com and the Tamil journal Saamadana Nokku (Peace Monitor) published by the Center for Policy Alternatives. He also edited the Tamil language daily Thinakkahir published in Batticaloa from 2000-2002.
On Sunday, 13th April at around 4pm, a person who claimed to be “Ealaventhan” from the LTTE demanded that Rushangan handed over a motorbike or the cash equivalent of 1,500 US Dollars. The first deadline given was 16th April. The phone number registered on Rushangan’s mobile phone was 0774 343791. This phone number is still accepting incoming calls. When Rushangan refused to pay saying that he is not in a position to do so, the caller threatened to abduct the journalist.
Though Rushangan lodged a complaint at the Dehiwala Police on 16th April, no one has been questioned or arrested by the Police to date, a situation the FMM finds wholly unacceptable in light of the seriousness and urgency of the situation.
The FMM does not have any information on the reasons for or the persons behind these threats. However, given the impunity with which extrajudicial killings and abductions take place in Sri Lanka today, the FMM hold the Police responsible for the safety and security of Rushangan and urge them to take immediate action to bring the culprits to book.