The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is relieved to report the release from detention of A.R. Vanna Loshan by Sri Lanka’s Terrorism Investigation Division (TID) on November 22.
According to the Free Media Movement (FMM), an IFJ affiliate, the TID handed Loshan over to his parents after eight days in detention without charge under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). The TID reportedly gave no reason for Loshan’s detention or release.
Loshan, the general manager Vettri FM radio station, has worked as a radio journalist for almost 10 years and took up his post at the Tamil-language station in early 2008.
“The release of A.R. Vanna Loshan provides a glimmer of hope for Sri Lanka’s independent media that the draconian PTA and Emergency Regulations will not be used systemically in an effort to silence critics,” IFJ Asia-Pacific said.
“The IFJ stands by its principles that freedom of expression is a universally recognised human right, and anti-terror laws must not be wielded as a weapon to quash that right.”
Loshan’s release is welcome news to Sri Lanka’s media and press freedom community, who continue to fight for the unconditional release of senior Tamil journalist J.S. Tissainyagam and printing press owners N. Jesiharan and his partner Valamarthi.
On March 7 and 8, TID officials arrested Tissainayagam, Jesiharan and Valarmathi under the PTA. The three were held without charge for more than five months until formal indictments under the PTA were issued in August.
Court proceedings against the three are currently under way.
The IFJ joins the FMM and local organisations in acknowledging international advocacy for the release of Loshan and in urging continued concerted action to demand that the rights of Tissainayagam and his colleagues be upheld, including their right to justice and protection while in custody.