Press release/1st Dec 2008
FMM is outraged that police officers of the Eravur police beat journalists Mohamed Hussein with batons just because he happened to be covering the suddenly imposed dawn to dusk curfew in Batticaloa on 29th November. This assault and harassment of journalist Hussein is not only a violation of Freedom of expression rights but also violation of basic human rights . Journalist Hussein is attached to Kalmunei media house run by Inter News.
According to FMM sources on 29th morning Hussein took a bus from Eravur to go to work in the Kalmunai Media House. At the Chathurukondan police check point, the bus was stopped and all passengers were informed that a curfew from 6am to 6 pm was in force. No prior information had been given to the public about the imposition of curfew. The diverted bus reached Eravur and Hussein went home to change and get his camera and notebook. On his bicycle, he went to town hoping to report on the inconvenience caused to the public because of the curfew. Many were caught unaware because the police made no announcement.
As Hussein was about to reach Eravur town, a police vehicle intercepted him and forced him to stop. Two police officers got down from the vehicle armed with rifles and baton sticks. One of the police officers attacked Hussein with his baton stick. When Hussein showed them his Internews ID, identifying him as a journalist with the East Media House, they did not stop verbally abusing him with foul language. Around 8.00 am Hussein’s friend, Mohamed Ismail Farook, a correspondent with Thinakaran daily, informed the Eravur OIC of the incident.
Journalist Hussein lodged a formal complaint at the Eravur police station.
The OIC accepted the complaint and told Hussein to meet him in the evening. But the officer was not in the police station as sweeping operation was taking place in Batticaloa with large numbers of people brought to the police station for questioning.
FMM demand that immediate inquiry be held on this assault. We request that the authorities to take necessary disciplinary action against the officers who beat journalist Hussein. Finally FMM request the IGP to inform his officers to respect journalists’ rights to report any emergency situations so that journalists can perform their duty without fear and intimidation.