Freedom of Expression news from Sri Lanka
Monthly report No 05; period covered May 2009
• 01st May – Government websites hacked
• 01st May – Visa restrictions for Journalists
• 03rd May – Tissainayagam case highlighted by US president Obama
• 03rd May – Hindu/Tamil festival banned
• 04th May – Foreign Js are indulging in malicious reporting – Army
• 04th May – Punish those worked for peace – minister
• 04th May – Web sites blocked
• 07th May – Web editor questioned
• 07th May – Sirasa correspondent attacked
• 07th May – Abductors handed me to police – Vithiyatharan
• 10th May – Channel 4 TV crew deported
• 11th May – Alert sent to expatriates working in Sri Lanka
• 11th May – Para military group threaten Jaffna dailies
• 14th May – Tamil freelance photographer threatened
• 14th May – Hindu temple vandalized
• 15th May – Remanded for damaging armed forces image
• 17th May – Gov. demands the identity of refugees who spoke ..
• 18th May – Female journalist threatened
• 07th May – Parliamentarian threaten on line journalists
• 25th May – Army commander on traitor journalists
• 25th May – Satellite Tamil TV channels banned
• 27th May – IGP says Journos worked for LTTE will be punished
• 27th May – Jaffna daily Uthayan editor interrogated
• 28th May – SLRC – Mervin case on 31st July
01. 1st May – Government websites hacked
The official Army website had been hacked by web hackers and some images had been uploaded, army spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanyakara said adding that the site was temporarily shut down. .Government news portal http://www.Lankapuvath.lk too has been hacked by suspected LTTE hackers, the government information department announced.
02. 1st April – Visa restrictions for Journalists
The Immigration and Emigration Department has restricted the issue of visas for 837 persons including foreign media personnel a senior source of the department said. “We were forced to deport certain media personnel and prevent some others from entering the country to protect national interests after finding their reportage was detrimental to Sri Lanka’s sovereignty and
national integrity and compromised its security. Any foreign journalist with good intentions and practices balanced reporting however, is welcome in our country,” Controller of Immigration and Emigration, P.B.Abeykoon said. (DM)
03. Tissainayagam case highlighted by US president Obama
US President Barack Obama said he was concerned about threats against the media the world over, and mentioned the plight of Sri Lankan journalist J S Tissainayagam who has been detained for over a year. “In every corner of the globe, there are journalists in jail or being actively harassed: from Azerbaijan to Zimbabwe, Burma to Uzbekistan, Cuba to Eritrea,” Obama said in a statement marking World Press Freedom Day on May 3. “Emblematic
examples of this distressing reality are figures like J S Tissainayagam in Sri Lanka, or Shi Tao and Hu Jia in China. (LBO)
04. 3rd May – Hindu/Tamil festival banned
The annual festival and procession of the Muthumariamman Kovil in Rakwana, Rathnapura district, which has been held there for nearly two hundred years was banned this year. This year a group of people claiming to represent the Sinhala Buddhist interest in Rakwana told the kovil organising committee that the procession should not be held, because it coincides
with the month of Buddhist festival “Vesak”. The police attempt at mediation came to nought: the meeting with representatives of both sides to settle the dispute was dispersed when a mob of some 500 turned up on behalf of the Buddhists.
05. 04th May – Foreign Js are indulging in malicious reporting – Army
The Sri Lankan army on Monday attacked foreign journalists covering the civil war in the country, saying they were indulging in “malicious” reporting based on false information provided by the LTTE rebels. “Few of them (foreign journalist) are, however, engaged in a malicious move to report inaccurate details based on false information furnished by the LTTE,” a senior military official was quoted as saying by the state-run Sri Lanka
Broadcasting Corporation. (Reuters)
06. 4th May – Punish those worked for peace – minister
Minister Champika Ranawaka told the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation’s Sinhala Service this week that the politicians and NGO ‘peaceniks’ who deliberately prolonged Sri Lanka’s armed conflict for 30 years under the pretext of searching for ‘peace’ and ‘negotiated settlements’ with the LTTE should be put on trial at the Galle Face Green, Colombo. The parents and families of thousands of security forces members and police personnel – who
perished in vain as a result – should determine the punishment to be given to the guilty.
07. 4th May – Web sites blocked
Web sites run by the LTTE and which provided news on Tamil civilians trapped in Vanni were not accessible through Sri Lankan internet providers from early May. Puthinam, Tamilnation, Tamil Canadian, Tamil Net, LTTE peace secretariat site were among them.
08. 7th May – Web editor questioned
Nilantha Ilangamuwa , editor of Sri Lanka Guardian web site and Foreign News editor of Siyatha was questioned by Crime Investigation Division. According to unconfirmed reports two persons, who are living near Nilantha’s home were questioned over Nilantha’s work. No information available on the issues that CID questioned the editor.
09. 7th May – Sirasa correspondent attacked
Sirasa TV’s Gampaha district correspondent cum cameraman, Tushara Saliya Ranawaka, has been beaten by the personal security detail of MP Wimal Weerawansa on Wednesday. Tushara Saliya Ranawaka had r gone to the Aththanagalla Magistrate’s court to report on NFF Parliamentarian Piyasiri Wijenayake who being was brought to thecourt . Mr Weerawansa’s security guards had seen the Sirasa cameraman and then allegedly assaulted him. (DM)
10. 07th May – Abductors handed me to police – Vithiyatharan
In an long interview with WSWS abducted editor exposed claimed that it was uniformed abductors who handed him over to the Colombo Crime Division. Earlier CCD told the court they found him assaulted and left on a road side. “It is evident that the perpetrators were closely coordinated by higher-ups. Three uniformed police officials and three thugs in civilian clothes handcuffed and blindfolded me. I was thrown onto the floor [of the vehicle] between the seats. They then stripped me and kept assaulting me, stamping on me with boots, and all the time scolding me with utter filth…. Pulling me out, they made me walk on a hard surface. After a few minutes I heard a door being unlocked. I was taken into a room” , he told WSWS website.
11. 10th May – Channel 4 TV crew deported
Reporter Nick Paton Walsh, producer Bessie Du and cameraman Matt Jasper, all of Channel 4 News, were arrested in the eastern city of Trincomalee on May 9 and deported next day. The news team had been reporting independently on the war between government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
12. 11th May – Alert sent to expatriates working in Sri Lanka
“All staff, spouses and affiliated individuals should be aware that a local radio station issued a telephone number this morning for the general public to report any foreigners who are seen or heard criticising the government and/or security forces. Please be aware of your surroundings and who you are speaking to if discussing such subjects even in the workplace but especially in hotels, restaurants, taxis, three wheelers and any other public places”
13. 11th May – Para military group threaten Jaffna dailies
The paramilitary group operating with Sri Lanka Army (SLA) in Jaffna threatened Jaffna Tamil dailies to refute news published related to the extortion through abduction of girl students in Jaffna peninsula, Colombo media organizations said. Meanwhile, SLA in Jaffna told the media that the particular news had been published though no one has complained to
them or the police regarding the extortion. (TN)
14. 14th May – Tamil freelance photographer threatened
Vavuniya-based journalist Mahamuni Subramaniam, a stringer for various news media including Reuters, Subu was detained for 4 hours, all photographs in his camera was deleted by the police. He was invited by the register of magistrate courts to cover the visit of Chief Justice to IDP camps. . He was arrested while covering the chief justice’s visit to the Ramanathan refugee camp. The police confiscated his expensive camera and still have not
returned it to him, although he has petitioned the High Court for its return.
15. 14th May – Hindu temple vandalized
Gangs of youths smashed the Pi’l’laiyaar statue in front of Vaddav’lai Murukan temple and broke the wall around the temple in Hatton police division in upcountry during the early hours, according to complaints made by the temple trustee board to Hatton police Wednesday morning. (TN)
16. 15th May – Remanded for damaging armed forces image
Colombo Chief Magistrate Nishantha Hapuarachchi remanded till May 27, five suspects involved in the telecasting of programmes allegedly causing damage to the image of the Government and the armed forces. The Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) filing a report informed the Magistrate that the investigations were not yet concluded and sought to further detain the suspects, -Anthony Pillai Mariyasalam, Sabamalai Emmanuel alias Wilson,
Emelyn Benedict, Joseph Punyamoorthy Jeyakumaran and Anthony Fernando Jegadesan.(DM) (They were re telecasting south Indian TV channel Sun News.)
17. 15th May – Journalist Tissainayagam detention legal – SC
The Supreme Court refused to declare the detention of senior journalist J.S. Tissainayagam at the Terrorist Investigation Division as illegal, arbitrary and contrary to the Provisions of the Emergency Regulations. Justice K. Sripavan with Justices Jagath Balapatabendi and Asoka de Silva held that the court was unable to rule that the petitioner had been kept in detention beyond 90 days without being produced before a court of competent jurisdiction. (DM)
18. 17th May – Gov. demands to know the identity of refugees spoke to channel 4
LAKBIMAnEWS spoke to Lakshman Hullugalle who heads the Media Centre for National Security. He said that “the channel team had to be deported because they were misrepresenting the facts “Shadows cannot speak and we certainly wanted to know who it was he spoke to.” Hullugalle said he met with Walsh before the Channel 4 news team headed to Trincomalee and after they got back to Colombo. “I sat him down, and personally asked him to prove his claims. I asked who these people were, and how he was so sure of the
allegations in the video, but he had nothing to say.”
19. 18th May – Female journalist threatened
Female journalist weekend Sinhala language news paper received number of threats after she had a byline story regarding war situation. Unknown motor cyclists visited her house saying they have to deliver a parcel. She received number of silent calls.
20. Parliamentarian threaten on line journalists
Telephone threats were made against reporter Santha Wijesuirya of the Lankaenews website and his editor, Bennet Rupasingha, by parliamentarian Wimal Weerawansa, the leader of the National Freedom Front. Weerawansa reportedly called Wijesuirya on his mobile phone yesterday evening to complain about one of his stories and threatened to teach him “a good
21. 25th May – Army commander on traitor journalists
Army Commander General Sarath Fonseka yesterday said the media personnel who had been paid by the LTTE to promote its cause would be appropriately dealt with according to the law. He said so in an interview with ITN on 25th May. In answer to a question what he proposed to do in respect of journalists in the pay of the LTTE, as revealed by the two LTTE
spokesmen now in custody, General Fonseka said, such people should be considered traitors and brought to book.
22. 25th May – Satellite Tamil TV channels banned
The Sri Lanka Army (SLA) and Sri Lanka Police have ordered Tamil residents in Hatton police division to dismantle dish antennas from their residences as a part of security measure, effectively barring them from viewing TV channels aired by several TV stations operated in Tamilnadu in India, sources in Hatton said. Tamilnadu TV channels provide news and items
on the Tamil struggle in Sri Lanka.(TN)
23. 27th May – IGP says Journos worked for LTTE will be punished
Inspector General of Police (IGP) Jayantha Wickramaratne has claimed that several journalists, mostly Sinhalese, were on the payroll of the LTTE and were thickly involved in the insurgency, according to latest investigations. “Although the Police know more details of this treason I do not like to reveal all of them since it might obstruct further investigations. They betrayed the noble profession and not only distorted and misreported against Sri Lanka
but also worked for cash and other fringe benefits like fully funded foreign trips.” (DM)
24. 27th May – Jaffna daily Uthayan editor interrogated
Sri Lanka Army (SLA) civil administration office summoned Monday the editor of a popular Tamil daily in Jaffna for interrogation into a news item related to abduction of children for ransom, published in the front page of the daily, sources in Jaffna said. The daily, however, intimidated by SLA authorities in Palaali head quarters and SLA-backed paramilitaries, had
published a refutation of the story published earlier.(TN)
25. 28th May – SLRC – Mervin case on 31st July
The CID informed the Colombo Chief Magistrate Nishantha Hapuarachchi that they had almost completed investigations of a Rupavahini Corporation incident which took place on 27th Dec 2007 among certain persons in the company of Labour Minister Mervyn Silva and the staff of the Rupavahini Corporation. The CID alleged that the behaviour of the two factions on the day of the incident had been a threat to the security of the corporation. The
Magistrate allowed the CID to file the report on July 31. (DM)
mediafreedominsrilanka Monthly report No5, period covered May 2009
Compiled by a group of journalists working voluntarily.