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Attacks on Ravaya, the street protest and Derana

Threats to a fair election are continued

| The following statement issued by the Free Media Movement based in Colombo

( December 12, 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Free Media Movement, focuses attention on three instances where media freedom and people’s freedom of expression in general has been threatened at a time when a decisive election has been announced in the country, and expresses serious disapproval and displeasure at the parties responsible.

A group of individuals, including a provincial politician of the governing party, has pounced upon the
Street Protest Against Rage (Viyaruwata Erehi Veediye Wirodhaya) held with the support of many civil society organizations on 5th December and assaulted cultural activist and peace singe Jayathilleke Bandara, activists including Mr. Samantha Epa and Hiru TV and Ada newspaper journalist Thisara Saman and caused immense damage to his camera.

We emphasize that this is a violation of freedom of opinion, expression and of peaceful protest and we demand that authorities arrest and bring to justice the perpetrators and protect the right of citizens to free expression and the right of journalists to freely engage in their profession.

It is also our belief that summoning the Editor of Ravaya, Mr. K.W.Janaranjana, to the Criminal
Investigation Division and questioning him about the last weeks headline news report is an attempt to
intimidate media during the election time. The long standing practice has been for officials to call at media institutes to take statements if it is necessary to inspect regarding information published in media, rather than summoning Editors to the CID, and it should be recalled that this has even been acknowledged by the present head of the state at previous incidents.

It is our observation that the public threats to revoke the license of Derana TV by a Cabinet Minister who was angered by a question from a listener during the television programme Wada Pitiya on Derana TV, and causing the termination of employment of its News Editor, Mr. Shehan Baranage, in connection with the above incident are events that stress how most media agencies are under the direct or indirect influence of the Government.

Free Media Movement, warning that the continued development of this condition against media and
freedom of expression will pose a grave threat to a free and fair election, requests the Commissioner of Elections and the Inspector General of Police to exercise their powers to the maximum in order to prevent the continuation of this situation and urges all citizens to come forward to protect their rights.

Sunil Jayasekara
Convener- Free Media Movement

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