Issuing a statement on the eve of the World Press freedom Day the FMM emphasises that the government shuld take speedy action against those responsible for the assault against Dr.Nirmaal Ranjith Devasiri and Dr.Kumudu Kusum Kumara. Ealier FUTA, the Federation of University Teachers Associations issued statement condemning the assault calling on the government to bring the culprits to book.
Here is the full statement of the FMM:
The Free Media Movement strongly condemns the physical attack unleashed on Dr.Nirmal Ranjith Devasiri and Dr.Kumudu Kusum Kumara at the May Day rally organised by the pro- Rajapaksa political parties and groups at the Kirullapona Lalith Athulathmudali ground, Colombo. The National Freedom Front (NDF) led by Wimal Weerawansa, a member of the Parliament played a leading role in this pro-Rajapaksa rally. Dr.Devasiri is former FUTA President and current media spokes person of the Federation of University Teachers Association (FUTA) and Dr Kumudu Kusum Kumara, also a prominent public intellectual. FMM would like to reiterate that those violent politicians and their henchmen who cannot stop the habit of hunting the dissenters should be brought to book. Dr.Devasiri has been actively engaged in not only on the issues of the University Community but also in re-establishing the democracy and good governance in the country. He is a person who expresses his views on social good without fear.
It is not unusual that politically sensitive persons walk around the city of Colombo on May Day to various avenues to listen to different political opinions. Dr.Devasiri and Dr. Kumara have been attacked while listening to the speeches of pro-Rajapaksa May Day rally upon recognising them. The attack unleashed at the rally led by politicians like Wimal Weerawansa, who is known to make hate speech against dissenters and incite his followers against them shows that they are unable to reform themselves even after losing the state power in recently held presidential election.
The FMM wants the government to take speedy action against those responsible for the assault against Dr.Nirmaal Ranjith Devasiri and Dr.Kumudu Kusum Kumara.
At the same time the FMM would like to highlight that although some positive initiatives has been taken by the government in relation to media freedom, still old habits of media suppression had been reported form different parts of the country in recent times. One such incident was reported form Poddala in Galle district. An ITN TV reporter who has been covering short comings of a maternity clink held at the Poddala, Bope local council was assaulted and prevented from doing his profession by the Council’s vice president. Again it was reported a journalists of the
Swarnawahini TV was assaulted by a policeman while on his way home after work saying that the journalist ignore the sign to stop motorcycle he was riding.
In Jaffna, journalists were prevented from covering a meeting held to discuss the serious issue of water pollution in Chunnakam. This was a clear case of preventing right to information of the people which the government has promised to adhere to.
The FMM would like to urge the government to look in to these issues as well and take appropriate action in order to prevent repetition.