Sri Lanka: IFJ calls for action on behalf of assaulted journalist

May. 25, 2007

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has denounced the May 21 assault on S.M.M. Ramsan, a journalist with the weekly Tamil newspaper Engal Thesam, in Maradamune, in the Ampara district.

According to an IFJ affiliate, the Free Media Movement (FMM), Ramsan was covering a meeting held to resolve disputes about the location for the rebuilding of Shariputheen College, destroyed in the 2004 tsunami, when he was assaulted by a group of people who allegedly wanted him to report only on their side of the argument.

IFJ President Christopher Warren said the incident reflected a disturbing escalation in targeted violence on the Sri Lankan media.

Ramsans media identification, camera and tape recorder were reportedly taken in the attack.

Journalists are independent observers, and have an obligation to report all sides of the story, Warren said.

By violently targeting journalists, in an attempt to influence the news, these groups are striking at the very heart of press freedom, and Sri Lankan authorities must dissuade this behaviour by prosecuting offenders in cases such as the attack on Ramsan, he said.

This attack follows three other incidents of threats, harassment and insults aimed at journalists in the past two weeks.

Sri Lanka remains an extremely dangerous country for journalists, and the Sri Lankan government frustratingly remains inactive on this deeply concerning issue, the IFJ president said.

We give our full support to Sri Lankan journalists in their struggle for a safe and free working environment and once again call on the government to do the same, Warren said.

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0919

The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 115 countries

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