TMVP threatens a female journalist
19th August 2008, Colombo, Sri Lanka: It has been reported to the Free Media Movement (FMM) that a TMVP (Karuna faction) supporter/member threatened journalist Thakshila Jayasena from the Sandeshaya – BBC Sinhala Service when covering a protest campaign by the United National Party, Sri Lanka’s main opposition party.
According to Ms. Jayasena, the incident occurred on 15th August 2008 as she was returning to her office after covering the protest rally. A motorcyclist who followed the three-wheel taxi she was travelling in blocked her way, stopped the taxi and asked her if she can recognize him. Ms. Jayasena told him that she has seen him at the press conference held by Mangalam Master, the TMVP candidate for the Polonnaruwa Provincial Council Election. Then the TMVP supporter/member had told her that he had come there not to leave any one alive and that he arranged a whole group to do the job.
Journalist hakshila has lodged a complaint regarding this threat made against her at the Polonnaruwa police station (No. 376/174). The FMM views this threat, coming from an armed group engaged in the Provincial Council Election as an omen of worse media repression in the Eastern Province. If these threats are not addressed at the outset, the FMM is deeply concerned the TMVP will treat media in much the same manner as the Government treats media in the South, which is to say that they will violently clamp down on all dissent and independent reporting. We recall that a number of threats against journalists from the TMVP over the past months that have been brought to the notice of the FMM.
We demand an apology from the TMVP over this regrettable incident and ask them to respect the freedom of expression and media freedom in areas under their control, if they wish to convince us of their newfound democratic bias. We also request the Polonnaruwa police to initiate a quick and transparent inquiry in to this incident to ensure that all journalists will be able to report the upcoming Provincial Council Elections without fear and intimidation.