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Media organisations express concern over assaults on Sri Lanka journalists

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins IFJ affiliate the Free Media Movement (FMM) Sri Lanka in condemning a series of assaults on journalists in Uva and the North provinces in recent days.

Chandana Kuruppuarachchi, a journalist with Sirasa TV and MTV Sports, and Palitha Ariyawansa, a correspondent of Lakadeepa newspaper were assaulted on Monday, September 22, 2014 when the cadres of the ruling parties and opposition clashed at Hali-ela, Badulla of Uva province. During the attack, Kuruppuarachchi was seriously injured and Ariyawansa's vehicle was damaged. Following these incidents, journalists in Badulla protested and condemned the violence against the media.

Similarly, on the evening of September 20, journalist Sinnarasa Sivakumaran was targeted at Kilinochchi, Jaffna, by a group of people who claimed to be members of the security forces. Sivakumaran saved his life by screaming for help, to which several of his neighbours replied.

The FMM said: "These incidents clearly indicate that the government of Sri Lanka still has not been able to create an environment where journalists can engage in their duties without fear and doubt. The government is not concerned about ensuring the safety of journalists and reinstating media freedom in Sri Lanka."

The IFJ and the FMM urge the government to arrest the perpetrators of these assaults and take the necessary legal actions without delay.

The FMM added: "We request the relevant authorities to take necessary steps to ensure the safety of journalists without any further delay and to identify the perpetrators as soon as possible, take necessary legal actions against them and punish them."

The issue of attacks on Sri Lankan journalists is not confined to the country. On September 23, the IFJ was informed that a France-based Tamil Media House was forced to shut down after an assassination attempt was made against a senior official last week. A masked gunman fired shots at the official at his home in Paris on September 18 and warned him he could face death if he continued working with the media house. The media house publishes the Eelamurasu newspaper, which has been in print for the past 19 years, as well as two Tamil diaspora websites: www.sankathi24.com and www.tamilkathir.com

The IFJ Asia Pacific deputy director, Jane Worthington, said: "The IFJ continues to deplore these incidents against our Sri Lankan colleagues. Journalists in Sri Lanka are facing hostile conditions and the government continues to ignore the abuse of press freedom under its gaze. We will continue to urge the government of Sri Lanka to stand up to its state obligations to ensure the safety of journalists and demand justice that has been so far denied."

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