South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

By Raisa Wickrematunge

Last Friday marked Independence Day. 63 years after February 4, 1948, how free are we? Ironically, since independence, freedom of the press has deteriorated. Journalists who are too ‘outspoken’ are harassed, threatened, beaten or killed. Most recently, the Lanka eNews office was burned down by an unidentified gang.

The Sunday Leader itself has seen its presses burnt twice, its Founder Editor killed while its employees continue to receive threatening letters and phone calls. The following is a compilation of journalists killed, courtesy the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and online news websites. Apart from the LTTE claiming responsibility in some of the murders, all the others have remained unsolved with the perpetrators going free. The following cases send a strong message of how far freedom of expression is tolerated. Or, rather not tolerated in this country – yet.

These figures are only the number of journalists who have been killed- by the LTTE, some allegedly by Tamil party members, and some by persons unknown. Many have fled overseas having received threats, in fear for their lives. Press freedom advocate and Government critic Poddala Jayantha is one prominent example. Jayantha fled overseas after being abducted and brutally assaulted while returning from work in 2009. Many have simply disappeared without a trace, the most recent instance being cartoonist and Lankaenews journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda, who is still missing.

Source: The Sunday Leader – 06.02.2011