Condemn the closure of Lanka News paper office and detention of its editor

Media Release

31 January 2010 Colombo,

We, 5 media organizations of Sri Lanka consider the steps taken by Criminal Investigation Department of Sri Lanka police to seal the  Lanka newspaper office and arrest/detain its editor Chandana Sirimalwatta as a fatal blow to media freedom and democracy in Sri Lanka. We demand that government stop immediately the repressive acts launched against media with critical and opposing content. It is clear that sole reason behind the repression of the Lanka newspaper and its editor Chandana Sirimalwatta is the role played by the newspaper during recently concluded presidential election.

The promises made during the presidential campaign to defend press freedom and speed up the investigations on assassination of journalists have evaporated within days. Instead the repression against journalists and media that does obey government orders and express dissenting voices has now culminated in acts unleashed against Lanka newspaper.  
Existence of a vibrant political opposition and unfettered space for media to carry their ideas and opinions to the people is a necessary component of a healthy democracy.  Hampering the role played by the Lanka news paper is violation of the people’s right to think, hold and express their opinions.

In our opinion   this is not a isolated act but another grave incident of post presidential election media suppression. The signal sent by suppressing Lanka newspaper is that critical media and journalists should shut up.

It is a common knowledge that in  a society that values democracy media should not be suppressed. If this trend of suppression of dissent and oppositional views is not halted we are afraid that Sri Lanka may slip in to a dictatorial political system. That is why we urge again national as well as international democratic forces to do their utmost to protect media freedom and democratic values in Sri Lanka.
We would like to remind that during the last few year’s dozens of journalists and media workers were killed, large number of them faced various threats and intimidations, number of media institutions were set on fire in Sri Lanka. Because of these anti media actions Sri Lanka was named as the third dangerous country for journalists in the world. Not only our people’s right to information was curtailed but also our name of motherland was degraded internationally.

We, 5 media organizations’ earnest request to the government is to remove all suppressive measures imposed on the Lanka newspaper and to release its editor Chandana Sirimalwatta immediately.

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