The 31st IFJ World Congress Muscat -Oman

FAPAJ Members

The 31st IFJ World Congress was held at the Convention hall of the Muscat Oman from 31st May 2022 to 03rd June,2022.

The 31st May 2022 was a very significant day for Asia Pacific Region. After years of struggle it was able to establish a Federation for Asia Pacific Region called FAPaJ.
The FAPaJ becomes the fourth IFJ regional group after the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) and the Federación de Periodistas de América Latina y el Caribe (FEPALC) and comprises representatives from the Pacific, Western Asia, Eastern Asia, Southern Asia and Central Asia.
Federation of Asia Pacific Journalists Chaired by Ms. Sabina Indrajith and the rest of the executive will be as Follows:
Chairman : Ms. Sabina Inderjit, General-Secretary of the India Journalists Union (IJU) and IFJ Vice President, was elected as the first FAPaJ president.
Vice Chairman : Mr. Salem Al Jahwari was elected as FAPaJ Vice President .
Mr. Mousa Abdul Nour, Ali Yousef, Mohammad Alhammadi, Leigh Tonkin, Jonathan De Santos and Badri Sigdel elected as members of the Executive Committee.

World Press Freedom  Day interactive webinar…..

The presentation was done at the World Press Freedom  Day interactive webinar,   organized by the Federation of Media Employees Trade Unions and Rainbow Institute of Communication. The theme of this webinar was the same as the Press Freedom Day, theme  – Journalism under Digital Siege. The presenter was Ms. Thusari Gamage, Senior Lecturer in Communication studies, Open University of Sri Lanka.
In spite of the challenges of power cuts, there was a cross-section of media students and professional journalists from several provinces, operating in print, electronic and digital media.  There was a great deal of interest in the topic and the discussion was lively.

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 

                                         

Journalists support #Gota Go Home 2022 people’s struggle! Journalists march April 20 at 3.00 pm near Fort Railway Station.

#Gota Go Home Journalists have organized a march near the Fort Railway Station to join the struggle in support of the struggle.
The march is scheduled to leave the Fort Railway Station on April 20 at 3.00 pm and journalists from all over the country are expected to join the march. Following is the full text of the press release issued by the Federation of Media Workers’ Trade Unions regarding the march.

Press release

 April 18, 2022

 Journalists support #Gota Go Home 2022 people’s struggle!

Journalists march April 20 at 3.00 pm near Fort Railway Station.

 More than 10 days have passed since the people’s struggle that began spontaneously, unable to bear the oppression of the Gotabhaya Rajapaksa government. The struggle against the government, which began without any discrimination, is turning into a growing nationwide struggle demanding the empowerment of the people of the country.

All journalists in Sri Lanka, irrespective of their organization, profession, or language, have decided to give their full support to these people’s struggles. The Solidarity March organized by journalists from all over Sri Lanka will commence on April 20 at 3.00 pm near the Fort Railway Station.

The Federation of Media Employees Trade Unions (FMETU) urges all island-wide journalists to participate in this march in support of the Galle Face People’s Struggle, regardless of organizational, professional, or linguistic differences.

FMETU cordially invites the heads of media institutions are also to participate in the People’s Struggle Solidarity March organized by the people of the country against the oppressive government. The Federation of Media Employees Trade Unions (FMETU) has also kindly requested the heads of media institutions to allow all journalists working in their media institutions to participate in this march and to be free of duty that afternoon.       

Thanking You,

Dharmasiri Lankapeli

General Secretary

Government should take responsibility of attack on journalists who covered Mirihana public protest – FMETU

The Federation of Media Employees Trade unions issued a Press statement about attacks by police and security forces last Friday 31st to peaceful demonstration.

The full statement is as follows.

Press release

April 02, 2022

Government should take responsibility for the attack on journalists who covered the Mirihana public protest.

The Federation of Media Employees Trade Unions along with the International Federation of Journalists vehemently condemn the heinous and shameful attack by police and security forces on journalists who covered the public protests at Nugegoda Mirihana on March 31.  The IFJ is the most influential media organization with over 600,000 members of 167 media organisations and unions in 146 countries worldwide.

During the aforementioned protests, a group of individuals who had identified themselves as the members of the President’s Media Division have threatened the journalists to step out of reporting and intimidated senior journalist Tharindu Jayawardena with threats. The journalist has lodged a complaint at the Mirihana police on the incident. Among those who had been taken into custody after beating and torture by police and security forces were journalists Avanka Kumara, Chatura Deshan of Sirasa TV, Sumedha Sanjeewa Gallage, Pradeep Wickramasinghe, Nissanka Werapitiya of Derana TV and Waruna Wanniarachchi of the Lankadeepa newspapers. The police were not merciful to admit those journalists with severe wounds and injuries to a hospital.

There is no doubt whatsoever that the brutal attack on journalists had been unleashed with the intention of preventing them from performing their duties to report the protests. The journalists had been attacked even after they produced the Media Accreditation Cards issued to them by the Director-General of Government Information. The FMETU emphasizes that the government should take full responsibility for the heinous crime committed against journalists.

The FMETU strongly demands that the government should take immediate action to conduct an impartial investigation of the attack on journalists and ensure the sacred right and responsibility of journalists to report facts and disseminate information to people and not infringe on people’s rights to freedom of expression.

Sincerely.

                 

Dharmasisr Lankapeli,                                                                               

General Secretary

 

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’s Personal Data Protection Bill Leads to Public Uproar.

A major fuss has arisen over Sri Lanka’s Personal Data Protection Bill, to be taken up for the 2nd reading in Parliament on Wednesday (9th March 2022).

Media organisations and civil society have both protested over the fact that a ‘Government controlled entity will be given the power to decide what data should be protected with very wide coverage on ‘special categories of data. The Editors Guild of Sri Lanka has pointed out that this will be a problem to journalistic reporting of corruption stories as the Bill places obstacles by protecting ‘personal data relating to offenses, criminal proceedings, and convictions.

 

In an editorial that first pointed to the dangers, the widely read the Sunday Times asked on February 13th, 2022 as to why, ‘In an era of information disclosure that Sri Lanka has pledged to be part of after passing a world-class Right to Information (RTI) Act in 2016, …a Bill on Data Protection presented to Parliament recently by the Prime Minister must revert to ancient terminology by including a clause on Official Secrecy?’

The editorial warned that ‘care must be taken to ensure that protection of data does not prevent the release of information which is in the public interest and observed that the Bill, as it stands, ‘contains too many ambiguities that must be corrected before it passes into law.’

The Young Journalists Association (YJA) meanwhile challenged the Bill in the Supreme Court but the petition was dismissed by the Court on a technicality, that it had been filed in the Supreme Court registry out of time. This was despite the petition being filed just minutes after the official time of filing which was 3 pm. The YJA had stated that ’journalistic purpose’ should be stated as an exception to the processing of data as is the case in all other countries, that the RTI Act should be balanced with the purpose of data protection, and that the Data Protection Authority should be independent rather than ‘Government controlled’ as the Bill provides.

It also pointed to the dangers of a ‘Government controlled’ Authority being given the power to impose hefty fines up to ten million rupees per every act seen as ‘violating’ the Act without these other concerns being addressed.

Colombo Telegraph learns that the Government has promised media organisations that their concerns would be addressed while the Opposition has assured that it would support the amendments proposed by the media to the Bill.

On Monday, the Sri Lanka Press Institute together with the Newspaper Society of Sri Lanka (NSSL), Free Media Movement (FMM), Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association (SLWJA), Tamil Media Alliance (TMA), Sri Lanka Muslim Media Forum (SLMMF), Federation of Media Employees Trade Unions (FMETU), South Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA) and the SLPI, issued a press release informing that they had handed over a letter to the Minister of Mass Media, Minister of Justice and the Secretary of the Ministry of Information Technology highlighting key concerns with the Bill.

They pointed to the fact that while the proposed Personal Data Protection Act is being recognised as an important one in the digital era, serious thought should be given to the implication and infringement to the rights of professional journalism and media freedom. It was emphasized that definitions regarding personal data and special categories of personal data remain arbitrary given that special categories also include data related to offenses, criminal proceedings and convictions which do not recognise the journalistic right to exercise free speech in delivering such information.

It was also noted that the proposed Act would prevail over every other law in any inconsistency, including the Right to Information (RTI) Law which would compromise the access to information that the public and journalists have via the prevailing RTI law.

Transparency International Sri Lanka meanwhile also raised similar concerns, asking the drafters of the Bill why they had decided to omit important protections in the initial draft on personal data protection released in 2019. The preamble of the 2019 framework refers to Sri Lanka’s constitutional Right to Information (RTI)as a crucial right, recognizing the need for the public interest to be balanced with the protection of personal data.

However, as TISL pointed out, this balance is not reflected in the Bill which had omitted that reference. Also, the 2019 framework had called for the appointment of independent three members to a nine-member Data Protection Authority through a public application process. The Bill has deleted that safeguard, saying only that the Authority is to be a ‘Government controlled entity.’ This is in violation of all international standards which call for the Data Protection Authority to be independent of the government.

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka(BASL) has however remained silent on concerns relating to the Bill, particularly the lack of independence of the proposed Data Protection Authority. Its office bearers, including its President Saliya Pieris and others, have applauded the Bill while not acknowledging its serious drawbacks, young journalists who challenged the Bill in the Supreme Court say, pointing out that it is the duty of the Bar to objectively respond to bills that infringe on rights.

Colombo Telegraph also spoke to several experts on data protection, including a senior law academic associated with the early drafts of the Bill who questioned as to why the 2019 data protection framework had been radically changed. A researcher who had worked with the Right to Information Commission (RTIC) clarified that though it is claimed by those pushing the Bill through Parliament, that the Bill had been examined by the RTIC, this was distorting facts as it was only the 2019 framework on data protection that had been sent for feedback to the RTIC.

If Parliament approves the Bill in its current form, it will force all Sri Lankan editorial newsrooms, non-governmental organisations, and research institutes to have Data Protection Officers who will answer to the dictates of a ‘Government-controlled’ Data Protection Authority, experts warn. This will further erode the freedom of expression in Sri Lanka, already under massive threat by a security state, they say.

Courtesy Colombo Telegraph

 

 

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                       

January is still black! Murderers and accused are live freely! Where is the justice for crimes against journalists?

I wrote a note for using the “Black January” leaflet that celebrates 2022. It is the request of Duminda Sampath of the Sri Lanka Working Journalists’ Association and the Lasantha Silva of the Free Media Movement.

I decided to develop it as an article after several events-related notes are circulating on Facebook. Uvindu’s note is prominent among them.

According to media activists, January is a “black” month. It is called “Black January”. This is because January has to be used as a month to pressure those responsible to seek justice for the crimes committed against those journalists and media institutions.

The month of January was chosen not because there were no other months of the crimes. This is because most incidents against journalists and media institutions took place in January.

That’s it!

Subramaniam Sugirdarajan was assassinated on January 24, 2006. Lal Hemantha Mavalage on SLRC was attacked on January 23, 2008. The Sirasa studio complex was set on fire attack by using claymore mine on January 6, 2009. Lasantha Wickrematunge, editor of the Sunday Leader was assassinated on January 08, 2009. Upali Tennakoon the incident took place on January 23, 2009. The disappearance of Prageeth Eknaligoda took place on January 24, 2010. The Lanka e News office was set on fire on January 30, 2011.

Thus, January is a “black” month for journalists, because of the number of horrific, barbaric attacks on journalists and media institutions during previous regimes. During the period 2000-2015, a civilized society did not tolerate that crime against the media. Part of the list of horrific events can be summarised as follows.

Assassinations
  1. The assassination of Mile Vehicle Nimalarajan 2000.10.19
  2. Assassination of Aiyathurai G. Nadesan on 01.05.2004
  3. Assassination of Kandasamy Iyer Balanadaraj on 16.08.2004
  4. The assassination of Dharmaratnam Sivaram on 28.04.2005
  5. The assassination of Relangi Selvaraja on 12.08.2005
  6. Assassination of Subramaniam Sugirdarajan 24.01.2006
  7. The assassination of Sampath Lakmal de Silva on 01.07.2006
  8. The assassination of Subhash Chandra Bose 2007.04.16
  9. Assassination of Selvarasa Rajivvarman on 29.04.2007
  10. The assassination of Sahadevan Nilakshan on 01.08.2007
  11. The assassination of Paranirupasingham Devakumar on 28.05.2008
  12. The assassination of Lasantha Wickrematunge 08.01.2009
Disappearances
  1. The disappearance of Subramaniam Ramachandran 2007.02.15
  2. The disappearance of Prageeth Eknaligoda on 24.01.2010
Victims of attacks
  1. Attack to T M G. Chandrasekara 2007.12.27
  2. Assault to Lal Hemantha Mawala 25.01.2008
  3. Abducted/Assaulted Keith Noyer 22.05.2008
  4. Assault on Namal Perera 30.06.2008
  5. Shooting to Radika Devakumar 08.09.2008
  6. Assaultedto Upali Tennakoon 23.01.2009
  7. Abduction / Assaulted Viddyadharan 2009.02.26
  8. Abduction / Assaulted Poddala Jayantha 01.06.2009
  9. Assaulted Gnanasundaram Kuganathan 29.07.2011
  10. Threatening Mandana Ismail 23.08.2011 and 2013
  11. Mandana Ismail Threatening 23.08.2013

Attacks on media institutions

  1. Bombing to Sudaroli Press Institute 29.08.2005
  2. Set on fire / Shooting to Uthayan newspaper 2006.6.2 / 2013.04.13
  3. Destruction of Sirasa TV studios 06.01.2009
  4. Attack on Siyatha 30.07.2010
  5. Arson of Lanka Enews 30.01.2011

In addition to this list, 12 media workers, newspaper agents, distributors, were reportedly killed by indirect attacks aimed at preventing them from commenting.

(Excerpted of the dates and details of these incidents from by a note of Seetha Ranjani)

In almost all these incidents, all the basic complaints required for justice have been filed. Just as most of the list above were Tamil journalists, all 12 slain media workers also were Tamils.

Investigations of the murder of Lasantha Wickrematunge and the disappearance of Prageeth Eknaligoda have identified suspects but the inquiries of them have been blocked. On February 26, 2010, the Police Terrorism Investigation Division arrested a man named Jesudasan in connection with Lasantha’s murder. The suspect who was arrested was identified as P.S. Jesudasan died suddenly in prison.

Lasantha’s elder brother, Lal Wickramaratunga said that President Mahinda Rajapaksa had told him three times that “General Fonseka killed Lasantha”. The good governance government that came to power in 2015 removed Lasantha’s murder investigation from the Terrorism Investigation Division and handed it over to the CID. That investigation was also not had done properly inquire.

Police announced that an Army intelligence sergeant has been arrested on suspicion of involvement in the July 16, 2016 murder of Lasantha Wickremaratunga. The Army Intelligence Sergeant who was arrested on July 27, 2016, identified the driver of Lasantha Wickramaratunga during an identification parade held in court. The police told the court that the soldier had also been charged in connection with the assault on Upali Tennakoon. Lasantha’s body was exhumed on September 27, 2016, for a new autopsy. Relevant investigations were also stalled to some extent.

The case of Lasantha Wickrematunge’s murder was scheduled to be heard in the Hague People’s Court on January 12 and 13.  The case hearing has been adjourned until April due to Kovid #19, the case has to be taken to an international court for justice.

Like Lasantha, the police have been able to find significant evidence regarding the murder of Sivaram, the disappearance of Ekneligoda, each of those murders, assaults all incidents.

Subramaniam Ramachandran, who went missing in the North, was arrested at an army checkpoint while traveling with a friend. He called it his home the previous night to call that he was in the army camp and said he would be back soon but did not return.

The T.M.G. Chandrasekaera and TV employees were attacked by Mervyn Silva, the then minister who entered Sri Lanka Rupawahini Corporation. Sampath Lakmal’s mother had said that Sampath Lakmal had left his home for the last time with a friendly military intelligence officer with whom he had frequent contacts.

The name of this army officer also came forward in the case of the disappearance of Prageeth Eknaligoda. The armed group that entered the house of journalist Mandana Smile was unable to fulfill their wish or cause harm to her.

The case against Nimalarajan, who was assassinated in 2000, was pending for a long time and was concluded on the orders of the Attorney General with the acquittal and release of the six suspects. It means saying that no one killed Nimalarajan. Similarly, the Dharmaratnam Sivaram murder case also has been excluded. We do not know how or when it will end.

The last good governance regime period had started several incident investigations such as Prageeth Eknaligoda and Lasantha Wickrematunge. But the present government released the arrested suspects these several incidents accused and provided them with jobs also.

The last good governance regime period had started several incident investigations such as Prageeth Eknaligoda and Lasantha Wickrematunge. But the present government released those who were arrested suspicious were these several incidents accused and to give them various jobs. Who provides security for criminals to remain at large, despite the visible and convincing evidence of crimes against journalists?

We need to intervene to win international attention on the ongoing impunity for crimes against journalists in Sri Lanka. Also, a political determination is needed to bring justice to the crimes against journalists. Journalists will have to continue to struggle to pressurise for it.

The murders, disappearances, assaults, and many other tragedies associated with these events cannot be forgotten by us. At the same time, many key leaders of media organizations had to flee the country to save their lives.

ttps://www.facebook.com/uvindu.kurukulasuriya/posts/10158666353649818 20021 Uvindu’s ending his Facebook note that as follows. “Justice will not be served right now to Poddala, Upali, Keith, and anyone who was killed, who was fatally assaulted,” I am trying to complete Uvindu’s note.

In fact, the activities of media organizations were a headache for the Mahinda regime at that time. As soon as any incident against journalists occurred, five media organizations (Free Media Movement, Professional Journalists Association, Tamil Media Forum, Muslim Media Forum, and Federation of Media Employees’Trade Unions) took immediate action and responded to every incident.

The Mahindha Rajapaksha regime was a crackdown on journalists intensified, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) advised these leaders to leave the country to save their lives. Ajith Seneviratne and I slept that day with Uvindu and others, who had left Sri Lanka, in the safe house on Flower Road, provided by the Center for Policy Alternatives.

Almost all the journalist leaders of those days spent the night in this safe house. Neither I nor Ajiya knew about the departure of these people. When we get up in the morning and look, only both of us are in here. Other friends are missing. It was only after follow-up that we were able to find out about what happened.

Following our friends’ departure, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) advised me also to leave the country as well.

This is that intervention

But I met American official, Jeff Anderson, and politely declined his invitation. Poddala and Ms. Roshaan Theries from the Sunday Observer attended this meeting. In fact, it took a lot of effort for me to include Poddala involved in that discussion. That’s it Poddala knows well. All the facts said by Uvindu, about Poddala are strictly based on the truth. Poddala and I are aware of that and I will add a few other things here.

On the evening of the day Poddala was attacked, as he was leaving work, he came to the door of the Lake House Employees’ Union office and called me “Machan” for a minute. “Aren’t you going to the media organization discussion called by Mahinda Rajapaksa?” I asked him. “No machan, Mahindha was angry with me. You do not go to that meeting ” advised me by Athula Aiya (Victor Ivan) Poddala explained. I said, “machan, it would be good enough for you could attend this meeting Your danger may go away. Poddala did not give an answer and he left. The look of horror on his face still haunts me today also.

I told Poddala about my experience. If Poddala had gone to that discussion, I think Poddala will still be in Sri Lanka up to now. because I have read about Mahinda Rajapaksa. This media organization discussion was convened to alleviate the stigma against the government, both nationally and internationally. Therefore, if Poddala had gone to that discussion, I would still believe the attack that took place could have been avoided.

I said Poddala to come with me by invitation I received from the American Embassy.  Because I had better understand the situation of Poddala.  No matter how much I tried to explain, Jeff Anderson did not care about Poddala at that time.

With the attack on Poddala, Jeff Anderson’s attention was turned to Poddala.

Jef Anderson and IFJ Asia Pacific leaders had exchanged emails conversations with me about the situation. I share them with you for the understanding of who read this article.

These facts were added to substantiate the facts and to support the study of the tragedy’s history. That is why the article was so long. But the time has come for media organizations and journalists to engage in a relentless struggle to win justice as a giant rather than doing something.

At a time when unity is a more and more entrenched and important time, the “Young Journalists’ Association” has reportedly been removed from the “media organizations collective” without question. It is an act of condemning not only to journalists but to all people who were suffering and burning period that has been blackening for twelve months of the year.

However, I would like to note and finished this article and said that the time has come for journalists to join hands with the broad masses of the country to make justice for victims of the country, to defeat “black” January.

Dharmasiri Lankapeli
General Secretary,
Federation of Media Employees Trade Unions

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