Saturday, February 06, 2010

Sri Lanka: Five media organizations condemn attacks on MTV journalists

In a joint statement, five media organizations in Sri Lanka have condemned the recent attacks on two journalists attached to MTV Television Network. In two separate incidents last week, journalists Rizwi Mahroof and Shri Ranga have been assaulted by mobs backed by the local politicians close to the government.

The statement signed by Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association (SLWJA), Federation of Media Employees Trade Union (FMETU), Free Media Movement (FMM), Sri Lanka Tamil Media Alliance (SLTMA) and Sri Lanka Muslim Media Forum (SLMMF), has pointed out "that police inability or unwillingness to investigate crimes against media and journalists has become one of the reasons for increased violence against journalist in Sri Lanka."

The full text of the statement follows:

"We five major media organizations in the country express our serious concern that attacks against media and journalists in the post election period still continuing, two journalists from MTV television net work becoming the latest victims.

On 2 February 2010 Rizwi Maharoof, Anuradhapura correspondent for Sirasa TV, the Sinhala language channel of the net work was assaulted severely. The assault took place when he was at the Anuradhapura Teaching Hospital around 11pm covering a shooting incident which had taken place in Ratmalwetiya, Eppawala. On 04 February police informed the court that Maharoof's video camera worth Rs. 200,000 had been taken away by the assailants after dashing it on the ground. His mobile phone too had been taken away by the miscreants, police informed court, the website of the net work reported.

On 3 February 2010 journalist Shri Ranga of Shakthi TV, the Tamil language channel of the network was assaulted. J. Shri Ranga, the host of Shakthi TV's Minnel programme, was assaulted and injured while he was taking part in a discussion in Hatton town on problems faced by the people of the hill country, reported the website of the network. Journalists Shri Ranga was threatened several occasions by various groups but to date no one has been charged by the police.

On both occasions assaults took place in front of police officers. It is the duty of the police to protect media and journalists who play the watch dog role of democracy. We would like to emphasis that police inability or unwillingness to investigate crimes against media and journalists has become one of the reasons for increased violence against journalist in Sri Lanka.

Now politicians, their henchmen, various para military groups, members of security forces has taken the law in to their hands in threatening and intimidating media and journalists in Sri Lanka. We are afraid that this trend is now spreading to provinces as well.

Our organisations express our concern that this situation has become a day to day occurrence in the country. As we have repeatedly pointed out it is the responsibility of the authorities to stop this anti media violence in post election period. We urge police to take action against persons who are responsible for these attacks and send a clear signal to miscreants that there will be no impunity for crimes against media and journalists. That is the only way to stop this violent trend."

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