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Journalist assaulted, ID and equipment seized

(FMM/IFEX) - The following is a press release by FMM and four other organisations:

Journalist assaulted, ID and equipment forcibly confiscated

Journalist S.M.M. Ramsan (32), a journalist with the weekly Tamil newspaper "Engal Thesam", was assaulted by a group of people while he was covering a tsunami-related meeting at a school in Maradamune, in Ampara district on 21 May 2007.

We, the five largest media organizations in the country, express our concern and disappointment over this incident and regarding the increasing harassment of provincial correspondents in Sri Lanka.

Ramsan told the FMM that his media ID, camera and cassette recorder were taken by the group who assaulted him. According to him, there was a disagreement between interested parties on the location for rebuilding the Shariputheen College, destroyed in the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004. The journalist was covering the meeting, held to forge a consensus and move forward on the issue. Ramsan was assaulted by one group involved in these discussions who apparently wanted him to report only their side of the story.

Journalists have a duty to report all sides of an issue. No one can force media outlets and journalists to present news in a biased, partial manner. We unequivocally condemn this assault on Ramsan and also decry the forces at large who are threatening journalists in order to control the flow of information and news as they see fit.

We urge the government and police to act on Ramsan's complaint without delay to ensure that he gets his equipment back and that whoever assaulted him is brought to justice.

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)

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