The press freedom watchdog the Free Media Movement of Sri Lanka has challenges the Government to prove its non-involvement in recent death threats to journalists and civil activists by bringing the culprits to book without delay. On 15th October 2014 number of journalists, organisers and resource persons of a media event sponsored y the Transparency International of Sri Lanka were threatened with death by a group calling themselves Patriotic Force that defended the country’ [rata rakagathdeshapremeebalakaya]. Issuing a statement the FMM says that the so-called Patriotic Force is nothing more than a Cat’s-paw of Intelligence Agencies.
The full statement follows:
So-called ‘’ Patriotic Force’’ Who Made Death Threats to Journalists is a Cat’s-paw of Intelligence Agencies
The Free Media Movement (FMM) condemns the death threats made to journalists and civil society organisation who conduct journalism trainings by an unknown group calling themselves ‘ Patriotic Force that defended the country’ [rata rakagathdeshapremeebalakaya] in strong terms. FMM calls on the government to bring those who are responsible to justice and demonstrate that these groups do not enjoy their support.
These death threats were directed at the journalist participants, organisers and their families at an event which was to be held on 15th October in Colombo. This event was organized to handover certificates of a journalism training programme conducted by the Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) section. Senior journalist and coordinator of the event Mr.Jayasiri Jayasekara and journalists Mr. Janoor Kichilan and Mr. Amadoru Amarajeewa are among those who received death threats. Mr.Shan Wijethunga, the organiser and Ravaya consultant editor Mr. Victor Ivan, resource persons of the event too had received threatening SMS messages.
By not taking any legal action against these terror gangs who threaten journalists with death, the government and security agencies show their fear for democracy and media freedom. It is our understanding that no group could threaten journalists and civil activists in such a blatant manner without the knowledge of security agencies given the current militarization in the country. The FMM states with confidence that this so-called ‘’Patriotic Force’’ is another puppet group which is protected by the intelligence agencies. This conclusion has been reinforced by the statement given by journalist Mr. Amadoru Amarajeewa stating that the mobile phones that originated these threatening telephone calls were belonged to some intelligence officers.
FMM condemns the labelling of participants journalists, who have been working for the public good for years in difficult situations, as LTTE supporters by this so-called Patriotic Force and whoever behind them.
Therefore FMM challenges the government to enforce the law against these gangs and demonstrate that these unlawful gangs have no support from the government.
We call upon all civil society organisations and people, who value rule of law and peace to unite against these emerging terror gangs.
Finally FMM warmly welcomes the investigative journalist network which has been established by the participants of the event in the face of serious threats to their profession.
Sunil Jayasekara, SampathSamarkoon