31 May 2008, Colombo, Sri Lanka: The FMM has learnt that a senior defence reporter attached to the Sinhala Divaina newspaper of the Upali Newspapers Group, Sirimevan Kasturiarachchi was sternly warned against reporting matters to defence and the Sri Lankan Army by an unknown group that had stormed into his residence on 29th May 2008 at about 4am.
FMM vehemently condemn this warning and see it as being linked to the recent spike in attacks against journalists reporting on matters related to the national security and defence.
Mr. Sirimevan Kasthuriarachchi, a former Officer of the Sri Lanka Air Force and with a brother who is missing in action while fighting in the North and East has reported defence related news for over two decades. When he had imparted this information to the group, he was told that irrespective of who he was and what he said that reporting of matters related to defence needed to stop forthwith.
Mr. Kasthuriarachchi notes that of late, officials had blocked his access to information from the Army.
This incident is a yet another example of the prevailing violence against media personnel and the growing challenges to independent reporting and analysis of the on-going war between the Government and the LTTE.
FMM requestss the Police to look investigate this incident which we see as one that further erodes media freedom in Sri Lanka and puts into question the ability and willingness of the Government to protect and strengthen the freedom of expression.