By Nabeela Hussain and Sarah Kellapatha

Journalists Against Suppression (JAS) held a protest campaign opposite the Fort Railway Station yesterday to mark 100 days after the disappearance of Lanka- e- news website journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda.

The protestors carried placards urging the government to stop media suppression and stop hiding frauds by politicians by asking journalists to reveal their assets and liabilities. The protestors also asked the government to release details of the investigations conducted into the disappearance of Prageeth Eknaligoda.

The protestors asked President Mahinda Rajapaksa who is the Minister for Media and Deputy Media Minister Mervyn Silva to provide details as to how Mr. Eknaligoda went missing.  JAS convener Chandana Sirimalwatte who’s also the editor of the Lanka Newspaper said it was the responsibility of the government to ensure the safety of journalists.

“It has been 100 days and the police have not released details of their investigations into his disappearance,” he said. He also said there were rumours that the disappearance of Mr. Eknaligoda was connected to an investigation he was conducting at the time. “He had a driver of a VIP as a source and he was said to have been conducting investigations regarding the elections, and since there was a problem with the election results we can only conclude that the incidents are connected.”

Mr. Sirimalwatte also said that the media was being suppressed by the government directly as well as indirectly. “Sometimes members of the government are not advertising in other media and that is indirectly affecting the media organization,” he said.

“The government is using laws such as the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) which is to be used for other purposes to arrest journalists and the media has no freedom. This also prevents the people of the country from knowing vital information,” he added.

Prageeth Eknaligoda’s wife, Sandhya Eknaligoda who was also present at the protest said the police had promised to give her details about her husband’s disappearance within the first few days but the days had stretched to weeks and she had yet not been given any information.

She said all she wanted to know was whether her husband was alive or not. “Tissainayagam was released yesterday. He was arrested for writing the truth and that was what my husband was doing,” she said.

“I have no husband and my children have no father, I plead to everyone that I get my husband back,” said Mrs. Eknaligoda.

“It has been hundred days since I saw my father and it is not fair,” said Sanjay Eknaligoda, eldest son of Prageeth Eknaligoda.

Journalist’s release was just a showpiece: UNP

By Yohan Perera and

Kelum Bandara

UNP in Parliament yesterday charged that journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda has been taken to a camp in the East following an order of a Minister in the area.

UNP Kurunegala District MP Dayasiri Jayasekera who was speaking during the emergency debate in the House yesterday alleged Prageeth had been taken away after he had written a mud-slinging story about another Minister. He said this Minister should have filed a case against the website for which this journalist worked rather than subjecting him to this kind of treatment.

Mr. Jayasekera called on the government to relase him if he is alive.

The UNP MP who referred to the release of journalist Tissanayagam, said it was just a showpiece. ‘Why did the government wait till the international media day to release him?” he asked. Mr. Jayasekera questioned as to whether the charges against him would be withdrawn with the release.

He also charged that the magistrates had been exempted from powers they had to deal with the terrorist suspects with the revision of the emergency regulations.

Mr. Jayasekera said the magistrates would now have to seek the approval of the Attorney General when dealing with terrorist suspects according to the gazette notification issued to relax the emergency. “They will have to get the approval of the Attorney General before granting bail to terrorist suspects,” he pointed out.

He said some of the emergency regulations that have been relaxed had been re-introduced through the penal code.

The UNP MP also charged that relaxation of the emergency laws was a result of government bowing down to the international community particularly to the European Union to get the GSP plus concession. “Government had bowed down to the European Union despite all the boasting that they would not bow down to the international community,” he said.

Source: Daily Mirror – 05.05.2010

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