Commonwealth journalists’ outraged over Sri Lankan editor’s killing

January 9th, 2009 - 10:28 am ICT by IANS  

Toronto/New Delhi, Jan 9 (IANS) The Commonwealth Journalists’ Association (CJA) has expressed its outrage at the killing of Lasantha Wickramatunga, editor of the Sri Lankan newspaper Sunday Leader Thursday, and urged the government to protect those engaged in dissemination of news “without fear of retribution”.In a strongly worded statement issued from its Toronto headquarters, it demanded that those responsible for Wickramatunga’s death should be brought to book.

The CJA’s India Chapter said that in a flourishing democracy journalists and others who work in the media must be given the protection they require in order to do their jobs.

“Wickramatunga had been a fearless journalist, working under difficult circumstances in a country wracked by conflict. He, and many other journalists in Sri Lanka, have been resolutely professional in their work.

“His newspaper has investigated government dealings and has been described as ‘anti-establishment’ and ‘pro-opposition.’ He had fought several defamation suits brought against him by senior politicians,” the CJA noted.

In Colombo, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse Thursday condemned the killing of Wickramatunga.

In a statement, Rajapakse pointed out that “this heinous crime points to the grave dangers faced by the democratic social order of our country, and the existence of forces that will go to the furthest extremes in using terror and criminality to damage our social fabric and bring disrepute to the country”.

Noting that the Sri Lankan government has ordered an investigation, the CJA urged that it “also include the wider context of violence against the media in Sri Lanka which has included the Sunday Leader’s printing presses being burnt in 2007 and the privately owned Maharaja TV station attacked and its equipment extensively damaged January 6″.

“Amnesty International reports that at least 10 media employees have been killed in Sri Lanka since 2006. We deplore the atmosphere of intimidation that has been whipped up against the media and which has led to this violence and to Wickramatunga’s and others’ deaths,” the CJA said.

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