Tuesday, September 08, 2009

JDS raises alarm over arrest of "Irida Lanka" journalists

Three staff journalists attached to 'Irida Lanka' newspaper have been released on bail after been arrested in Deniyaya, Matara and brought to Colombo to be interrogated by the the Terrorism Investigation Division (TID). Morawaka Magistrate ordered the release of the journalists on cash and surety bail on Tuesday the 8th of September. The journalists were accused of "criminal trespass" by the police who held them in detention since the 2nd of September. Police told the courts that they were held on a detention order.These three journalists were detained under the provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka (JDS) are of the view that this is another act of suppressing the media freedoms by the present regime and strongly condemn it.

Three journalists who are being detained are staff journalist Shalika Wimalasena, provincial correspondent Daya Nettasinghe and Photographer Ravindra Pushpakumara. This was not the first instance where 'Lanka' newspaper was targeted by state repression. Previously another three journalists were taken into custody on 13 August when they were engaged in pasting publication's advertising posters and later released.

Earlier, police media spokesperson Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Nimal Mediwaka told media that the three “Lanka” journalists have been arrested on suspicion of an assassination plot involving the President of Sri Lanka. DIG Mediwaka has further stated that these three journalists had photographed a mansion frequented by the President of Sri Lanka. Deniyaya Police who made the arrest, however, had said in their initial statement that the cause for the arrest was an unauthorized entry to a private property.

The said property which is believed to be frequently visited by the President of Sri Lanka has never been declared as a high security zone or no-go area. Act of photographing of such property, JDS consider, is an exercise of right to information of the public and it will, by no means, amount to an act of terrorism..

Repressive laws such as the PTA and the Emergency Regulations are time and again used by the regime in order to suppress democratic freedoms of any nationality of the island whenever it desires to do so. This simple truth has been proven by the detention of three Sinhala journalists under the PTA just after three days J S Tissanayagam, a senior journalist was sentenced to 20 years of rigorous imprisonment under the draconian law termed the PTA.

The JDS condemn out rightly the arrest of 'Irida Lanka' journalists,while demanding an immediate end to state repression targeted at 'Lanka' newspaper. JDS call upon all the political parties in Sri Lanka and the democratic forces world over to join forces to pressurize the Government of Sri Lanka to abolish the Prevention of Terrorism Act under which hundreds and thousands of Sri Lankans were subjected to torture and death since 1979, as an initial step of restoring democracy in the island.

Executive Committee
Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka


Related Links:

‘Lanka’ journalists released - Lanka Truth

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