Torture of Lankan journalist criticised
LAHORE: The South Asia Media Commission (SAMC) and the South Asian Free Media Association (Safma) are shocked to learn of the kidnapping and beating of a prominent Sri Lankan journalist, Poddala Jayantha.
Poddala, secretary-general of the Sri Lanka Working Journalists’ Association and a member of Free Media Movement, received injuries on his head, chest and leg while he was returning from work and got close to his house in Nugegoda, in the outskirts of Colombo, says a press release.
Six unidentified men in a ‘ white van’, known in Sri Lanka as a threat symbol, dragged Poddala into the car and after beating him up, threw him out, near a hospital. They also cut his beard and hair. “This is adding insult to injury,” said observers.
Safma Secretary-General Imtiaz Alam and SAMC Secretary-General Najam Sethi condemned the incident and called it a violation of freedom of expression and independence of the media. After an official end of the war against the LTTE, the government must focus on solving the long awaited issues relating to media freedom, they said in a joint statement.
This is the second major attack on journalists after the killing of a leading journalist, Lasantha Wickrematunga, on Jan 8. Both Safma and SAMC agreed that the media landscape after a 30-year long war has deteriorated and opened another phase of insecurity and threats to independent journalists like Poddala and institutions like Center for Policy Alternatives (CPA).
The CPA has received an anonymous letter threatening the worst if it does not mend its ways.
Media organisations called upon the Lankan government to make an impartial inquiry into this attack and end the culture of impunity.
The lack of prosecution has enabled an environment which supports attacks and killings; and brings no justice to the victims leading to a rise in attacks. They also appealed to the government to make war torn areas accessible to the media for independent reporting.