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TV and radio station target of arson attack causing extensive damage

(FMM/IFEX) - The following is an FMM press release:

Sri Lanka Press Institute Strongly Condemns Attack on MTV/MBC

The Board of Directors of the Sri Lanka Press Institute (SLPI), a non-profit entity that is an FMM partner, unreservedly condemns the armed intrusion, acts of arson and destruction of the MTV/MBC offices in Pannipitiya early on the morning of 6 January 2009.

According to reports, extensive damage has been caused to the building and equipment running into millions of rupees. The attack appears to have been well planned and carried out by a heavily armed group of masked men.

The Board of the SLPI calls on the government to carry out an immediate investigation to identify and prosecute the perpetrators of this violent act. This is yet another of a series of attacks on media personnel and institutions. The government has so far failed to bring a single perpetrator of these attacks to justice.

The Board reiterates that media freedom is an integral part of a democratic society and a fundamental right of the people that must be safeguarded at all times. A paramount responsibility rests with the government to protect this basic right of the people.

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