Attack on peaceful protests is violation of freedom of expression

Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association (SLWJA)

Federation of Media Employees Trade Union (FMETU)

Sri Lanka Muslim Media Forum (SLMMF)

Sri Lanka Tamil Journalists Alliance (SLTJA)

Free Media Movement (FMM)

10.Feb.2010 Colombo.
We, five major media organizations in Sri Lanka state that tear gas attacks and dispersing of peaceful protest campaigns in number of cities on 10  February 2010 by the police  is a blatant violation of basic right to freedom of expression of our people. We are afraid that this incident reconfirms the fact that in Sri Lanka today space for opposition political activities, which is an essential component of a pluralistic democratic society, is being seriously restricted.

These campaigns were organized by opposition political parties to protest the arrest of defeated presidential candidate General (Rtd.) Sarath Fonseka by military police two days ago.

Police instead of  doing their duty of protecting peoples constitutional right to protest, provided protection to a politically sponsored mob armed with iron bars and various other things who arrived at the protest venue to attack the protestors. We as major media organizations in Sri Lanka would like to warn that this show of political partisanship by police could lead to a dangerous deteriorating of democratic institutions in the country.
Further if police failed to protect peoples basic rights at a time when parliament is dissolved and nomination dates are decided peoples trust in the democratic system may be further eroded.

We reiterate that the broadest possible intervention is the need of the day to protect all freedomsof our people including media freedom.

freemediasrilanka@gmail.com

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