February 02, 2018
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the Free Media Movement (FMM), Sri Lanka have condemned the intimidation of two journalists, forcing them to stop covering a political rally in Badulla, Uva Province in central Sri Lanka on January 28. The IFJ demanded action against those involved in the incident.
Kapila Kuruppuarachchi of Sirasa TV and Jayalath Dissanayake of TV Derana, who were covering the election rally of United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) and Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) under the patronage of President Maithripala Sirisena, were threatened and chased away by an aide of the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation Nimal Siripala De Silva.
Kuruppuarachchi claimed that the hostility stemmed from his earlier reporting of an incident involving Uva Chief Minister, Chamara Sampath Dassanayake. The minister’s aide, Public Relations Officer Ajith Hikkaduwa Liyanage, reportedly told the journalists: "We do not want media like you, you are the ones who worked against us in the past, so do not come here.”
The aide also said that if they were present at the rally, he would incite people against them and would not be held responsible for what people did.
Following the threat, the journalists left the rally and made a complaint to the Badulla Police.
The IFJ said: “The IFJ condemns the threat to the journalists by an aide of the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation, and demands action against the aide. Independent journalism and critical reporting are key for the survival of democracy and such action undermines the freedom of the press and rule of law in Sri Lanka.” – IFJ media release
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