18 November, 2019

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IPI Concerned By Declining Press Freedom In Sri Lanka

The International Press Institute (IPI) expresses today its concern about recent attacks against journalists and an overall deterioration of press freedom in Sri Lanka.

On Sept. 2, BBC Tamil’s journalist Ponnaiah Manikavasagam, was questioned by the anti-terror police in relation to a telephone conversation he had with two Tamil prisoners in Colombo.

Barbara Trionfi

IPI Press Freedom Manager Barbara Trionfi said: “This kind of intimidation of journalists represents a clear threat to democracy in Sri Lanka.  We urge authorities to ensure a freer environment for media in the country and allow individual reporting.”

Officials of the Terrorism Investigation Department questioned Manikavasagam regarding the telephone conversations he had had with two individuals, currently held at Magazine Prison in Colombo. The two prisoners are currently under trial on charges related to their alleged involvement with The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam during the brutal 26 year Civil War which ended in May 2009 with the victory of the Sri Lankan government over the LTTE.

The BBC sharply criticized the questioning of Manikavasagam by the Terrorism Investigation Division Unit and provided him immediate legal support.

In a Sept. 2 article, BBC noted that: “Mr Manikavasagam has reported for the BBC World Service for many years and we are confident that all his activities were carried out in pursuit of his normal journalistic duties.”

Monday’s questioning of Manikavasagam comes after a period of heavy media turbulence in Sri Lanka. Navi Pillay, UN’s Chief Commissioner of Human Rights referred to Sri Lanka as being “increasingly authoritarian”. This claim comes in response to the harassment reportedly faced by many Sri Lankans who had come to meet Pillay during her visit to Sri Lanka last month.  Sri Lankan officials have refuted these claims, describing them as “prejudiced”.

“This type of surveillance and harassment appears to be getting worse in Sri Lanka, which is a country where critical voices are quite often attacked or even permanently silenced,” Pillay said wrapping up a week-long visit to Sri Lanka in late August.

At the end of last month, investigative online news website The Colombo Telegraph was blocked throughout Sri Lanka. This is not the first time the news outlet, which is published abroad, has been blocked in the country. Founder and editor Uvindu Kurukulasuriya told IPI that his news website was blocked at least once each year since it was launched in 2011. In 2012, The Colombo Telegraph also experienced attacks by hackers, the cause of which has yet to be cleared.

“Self-censorship in Sri Lanka has gone beyond the pale,” Kurukulasuriya told IPI. “The Colombo Telegraph is publishing the stories that Sri Lankan media does not cover. I believe that is the reason for this blocking”.

By: Saloni Sardana, IPI Contributor

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Latest comments

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    where was IPL when Julian Asange was running for his Life.

    What Happened to Manning ?

    Where was IPL at that time ?

    American govts are lying about Syria and those propaganda are big articles. what is IPL doing ?

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      You are absolutely right Jim. What was the IPL doing as you have rightly questioned?

      Jim they were playing Cricket. IPL 20 over Matches.

      Forget about IPL Jim, How about that ‘Kiss Eka’? Why are you avoiding an Answer? Are you SHY?

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    It is Boasted that today we live in a Global Village. There is no animosity between countries that existed in the past as was seen during the World Wars. Today America, Russia, Japan, China, India, Europe and all other countries exhibit a sense of amity. Therefore it is the bounden duty of all Peace loving in the World as IPI, Human Rights Watch and all other Groups to prevail on the rest of the World Leaders to act with common interest to safeguard all citizens in this Global Village without leaving Potty Despots as MR to violate Universal Laws. Although Barak Obama in his Inaugural Speech claimed and warned all Leaders of Nations of such abuse, today appears silent when these Tin Pots commit the same in broad day light. Further they appear to be Blind and Deaf when gross violations are raised by the very Officers of repute holding Office in the very Organizations adopted by the World Body to supervise. It is the British who sits on the Common Wealth who are mainly responsible for the creation of this Mechanism of World Governance that is prevalent today in most countries. Therefore it is their duty to probe matters of neglect relating to the Arbitrary Impeachment of the CJ De Jure. Sharma’s conduct of concealing Commission Reports to subvert Justice and Punish him accordingly and also to address what Navi Pillai has stated.

    • 0
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      Dear Barbara Trinofi,

      “The International Press Institute (IPI) expresses today its concern about recent attacks against journalists and an overall deterioration of press freedom in Sri Lanka.”

      There is no press freedom in a dictatorship.

      What are you talking about?

      There was no Press freedom with LTTE, either.

  • 0
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    IPI in a Global Village armed with a double edge sword.

    • 0
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      You Bugger not only the sword is double edged but has a deadly point as well.

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