Hijacking of journalists’ mobile phones is MPs’ thuggery!

Press release

May 18, 2022

Hijacking of journalists’ mobile phones is MPs’ thuggery!

 Sirasa journalist Kasun Samaraweera and the President of the Parliamentary Reporters’ Association, journalist Prageeth Perera were using mobile phones to cover their reporting. Indika Anuruddha and D. Weerasinghe two MPs by abducted on these mobile phones with brutal malicious. The Federation of Media Workers’ Trade Unions, in association with the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), strongly condemns this malicious act by members of parliament.

Journalists have been given the Speaker’s permission to use mobile phones in their reporting. Following the day swearing-in of Ranil Wickremesinghe as the new Prime Minister, on the first-day meeting of the 17, ruling party group, journalists have been covering the incident as usual. At that time, the mobile phones of the two journalists were abducted by these two MPs named above. What is even more ridiculous is the statement made by Channa Jayasumana, who supported the move, that a group of strangers was videotaping him in Parliament in front of the Speaker.

It is even more ridiculous that MP Channa Jayasumana describes these two journalists, who are very close friends with 225 MPs, as unidentified men. After handing over the two hijacked phones to the parliament officers, the Speaker should draw attention to the fact that the officers deleted all the data stored in them and handed them over to journalists. The two journalists have already lodged a complaint with the Speaker and the Welikada Police regarding the incident. The Federation of Media Employees Trade Unions emphasizes that this whole incident is a serious threat to the freedom of the media in general and the professional dignity of journalists.

The accuracy of the massive protest being waged by the people of the country against 225 MPs in Parliament explains what this thuggery of the Members of Parliament is all about. The Federation of Media Employees Trade Unions strongly urges the Speaker to draw the attention of the entire Parliament to this shameful act of the Members of Parliament and to take appropriate action against the actions of the Members of Parliament.

Sincerely.                                       

Dharmasiri  Lankapeli                                             General Secretar 

                                         

Prompt intervention for the job security and professional dignity of journalists

March 17, 2022

Mr. Dullas Alahapperuma, Minister of Mass Media,

Ministry of Mass Media

 

Dear Hon. Minister,

Prompt intervention for the job security and professional dignity of journalists

It is unfortunate that incidents that harm the job security and professional dignity of journalists are increasing day by day. We present this letter to you in anticipation of your prompt intervention to prevent such actions.

The service of Nilepthi Ranasinghe, a freelance journalist of the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation, which is under the direct control of your Ministry, has been suspended with immediate effect on the instructions by the administration. She was informed by the SLRC administration that the reason for the termination of her service was a note she had published on her Facebook page regarding the President.

Duminda Silva, the chairman of the Housing Development Authority, had telephoned and threatened journalist Rahul Samantha about his news report. Duminda Silva is convicted of murdering Bharatha Lakshman and was serving a prison sentence, was later released on a presidential pardon. We learned that both these incidents have been reported to you. Our federation believes that you, as a well-experienced professional journalist, do not approve you both incidents.

The Federation of Media Employees Trade Unions, a full member of the International Federation of Journalists, which represents more than 600,000 member journalists in 160 countries, strongly condemns both actions. We also urge you to expedite the investigation into these two incidents and intervene to protect the job security and dignity of journalists while safeguarding their freedom of speech and expression.

Thanking You, Yours sincerely

Dharmasiri Lankapeli    

General Secretary

077 364 1111

fmetu123@gmail.com

 

cc To all media institutions

Sri Lanka: High profile journalist attacked by armed gunmen

MEDIA RELEASE

The residence of prominent television journalist, Chamuditha Samarawickrema, was attacked by four unidentified assailants in the Piliyandala district of Colombo on February 14. The International Federation of the Journalists (IFJ) and its Sri Lanka affiliates, the Federation of Media Employee’s Trade Unions (FMETU), the Free Media Movement (FMM), and the Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association (SLWJA), urge the Sri Lankan authorities to expedite their investigation and bring justice to the perpetrators.  

The assailants reportedly stormed the Cambridge Court housing complex, where Samarawickrema and his family were staying, at around 2:00 am and began throwing stones and feces at the house, damaging several windows.

CCTV footage showed the assailants arriving in a white car and threatening the security guard on duty by pointing a gun at his head. The suspects, who concealed their identities by wearing helmets and facemasks, were also seen carrying several items while entering the home, including a bag and a cardboard box.

According to police, Samarawickrema, who has been known to criticise the ruling Rajapaksa government, was “shaken but unhurt” after the raid. The journalist, affiliated with Hiru TV and who also runs an interview program, ‘Truth with Chamuditha’, has previously aired episodes investigating government corruption, the Rajapaksa family, and the Sri Lankan police.

An investigation into the attack was launched by police on February 15, and a court ordered security to be given to Samarawickrema following the incident.

This is not the first time  Samarawickrema has been targeted. He has been vocal about receiving several phone call threats and in 2021 claimed that his life was under serious threat.

FMETU’s General Secretary, Dharmasiri Lankapeli, said: “It is no secret to the people that there were powerful political hands behind all these incidents. The attack on journalist Chamuditha Samarawickrema can be suspected of being a similar act. Therefore, the FMETU strongly urges the government and the authorities to conduct a thorough investigation into the attack and reveal to the country the real thugs behind the attack.” 

FMM Convener, Lasantha De Silva, said: “This attack underscores the dangerous environment in which journalists have been working in Sri Lanka in recent decades. Therefore, we urge serious attention of the government on journalist’s safety.”  

SLWJA Secretary, Frank De Zoysa, said: “If there was an issue regarding Chamuditha Samarawickrama’s use of media, it should have been reported to the relevant authorities in accordance with the law of the country. SLWJA strongly condemns such arbitrary attacks on journalists and urges the government to investigate the case and punish the guilty.”  

The IFJ said: “The attack on Chamuditha Samarawickrema’s residence is yet another deliberate attempt to stifle press freedom in Sri Lanka. The IFJ urges the government and authorities to expedite their investigations, bring the perpetrators to justice and end the culture of impunity for crimes against journalists in Sri Lanka.” 

We condemn the brutal attack on journalist Chamuditha Samarawickrema.

Press release

15th February 2022

We condemn the brutal attack on journalist Chamuditha Samarawickrema.

 The Federation of Media Employees Trade Unions, in conjunction with the International Federation of Journalists, strongly condemns the barbaric, cowardly attack on the house of journalist Chamuditha Samarawickrema. The International Federation of Journalists is the most powerful media organization with a membership of over 600,000 journalists, comprising 167 media organizations in 146 countries.

 Chamuditha Samarawickrema has been a prominent journalist in the Sri Lankan media for a long time and has been a vocal critic of the actions of politicians and anti-social elements. At the time of the attack, he was a journalist who was playing the vital role of a powerful journalist in the “Paththare” and “Salakuna” programs of the Hiru TV channel. Chamuditha Samarawickrema has been a prominent journalist in the Sri Lankan media for a long time and has been a vocal critic of the actions of politicians and anti-social elements. At the time of the attack, he was a journalist who was playing the vital role of a powerful journalist in the “Paththare” and “Salakuna” programs of the Hiru TV channel.

 There is no doubt that this cowardly attack was a barbaric act aimed at preventing his use of the media. Armed with security, it is safe to assume that there is a powerful political arm behind such an attack. It is no secret that the country has witnessed a number of decades of killings, disappearances, and assaults on journalists, all of which have yet to be formally investigated. It is no secret to the people that there were powerful political hands behind all these incidents. The attack on journalist Chamuditha Samarawickrema can be suspected of being a similar act.

 We urge the government to expedite such investigations and crackdown on thugs. Except by such action, suspicion of the people about state or political interference for these types of incidents cannot be ruled out. Therefore, the Federation of Media Employees Trade Unions strongly urges the government and the authorities to conduct a thorough proper investigation into the attack and reveal to the country the real thugs behind the attack on Chamuditha.

.Thanking You,                                                                       

Dharmasisr Lankapeli                                                                                                 

General Secretary                       

The murder of Lasantha, who has not done justice for 13 years?

January 08, 2022 marks the 13th anniversary of the assassination of Lasantha Wickrematunge, editor of the Sunday Leader newspaper in the Attidiya area in Ratmalana.

It is a well-known murder that Lasantha Wickremaratunga was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in broad daylight in a high-security zone nearest Colombo and fled past several army checkpoints at that time.  After the attack who can escape from those checkpoints. It is a well-known secret that everyone knows. However, Lasantha Wickramaratunga who was admitted to the Kalubowila Hospital after the shooting has passed away. That was on January 8, 2009.

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