« Remembering Lasantha six years on: Launch of photo-essays on Sri Lanka » by Groundviews

Journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge‘s murder on 8th January 2009 was utterly horrible and yet, even more unforgettable was the Rajapaksa government’s reaction to it. Lasantha’s last editorial, published posthumously, didn’t mince words.

It is well known that I was on two occasions brutally assaulted, while on another my house was sprayed with machine-gun fire. Despite the government’s sanctimonious assurances, there was never a serious police inquiry into the perpetrators of these attacks, and the attackers were never apprehended.

In all these cases, I have reason to believe the attacks were inspired by the government. When finally I am killed, it will be the government that kills me.

Six years on, his killers remain at large.

To commemorate Lasantha’s death, Groundviews, in collaboration with The Picture Press and supported by Sri Lankans Without Borders, is pleased to release a set of three compelling investigative photo-essays, looking at Sri Lanka’s religious diversity as well as flagging to what extent it is under threat today.

As noted in the introduction to each photo essay, this content is « a tribute to a journalist whose brutal murder has impoverished us all, irrespective of whether we agreed with him or not… and also a tribute to Sri Lanka as it has always been and must continue to be – a rich, diverse, multi-religious and multi-ethnic society. »

Click on the link to access each essay:

The photo essays use Microsoft’s new Sway platform, which is completely responsive and tailors the content to whatever browser you are viewing it from, from desktop to mobile.

« Freedom of the Press 2014 – Sri Lanka » by red world

Approximately 22 percent of the population accessed the internet in 2013, with many residents deterred by the high costs involved, although mobile-phone usage continued to increase rapidly. Web-based media and blogs have taken on a growing role in the overall media environment, with outlets such as Groundviews and Vikalpa providing news and a range of commentary, even on sensitive stories and events that are barely covered by the mainstream media.

via: http://www.refworld.org/docid/54a148d011.html

« News from Jaffna » by Aljazeera

« If the situation became precarious, I could always take a flight to my other home, the UK, but this is obviously not an option for your news reporter in the north.

Since returning to Sri Lanka, I often wondered what my life might have been like had my family not left. Would my life be so different from the journalists I met at Uthayan had my family stayed in Jaffna? »

Via http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/viewfinder/2014/09/news-from-jaffna-2014926135629688613.html

‘No protests says Daily Mirror’, from Ravaya newspaper, 1st August 2014

Ravaya flags today that Daily Mirror threatened its own journalists to not participate in a media protest held on 31st July, noting that they would lose their jobs if they did so. See English translation of the article here –

via: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1qKUCeRXbBqZdYsuTn-6RHwYpevkPjEIuOBV1_8F43V0/edit

« Media workshop at SLPI disrupted by mob » by Aanya Wipulasena

A workshop for journalists organised by a non profit organisation that was to be held at the Sri Lanka Press Institute (SLPI) yesterday was called off abruptly after a mob protested outside the institute in Narahenpita.

via: http://www.sundaytimes.lk/140727/news/media-workshop-at-slpi-disrupted-by-mob-108707.html

« Sabotage of media workshop and death threats are govt. orchestrated – SLWJA » by Sri Lanka Brief

« The Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association (SLWJA)  condemns in the strongest terms yet another act of intimidation of media by the government orchestrated mobs who sabotaged a planned media workshop for Jaffna journalists scheduled at the Sri Lanka Press Institute (SLPI) today( 26). The workshop on Digital media Security for a group of media personnel from Jaffna was to be held at the Sri Lanka Press Institute today.  However, 16 journalists who were heading to Colombo for the media workshop was detained by the Army at the Omanthai Military  Check Point on the purported charges of having Cannabis in their procession on Friday evening and were handed over to the police.  They  were subsequently released by the police,  on the same day night and were instructed  to  return to Jaffna.  (The driver of the van travelled by journalists remains in police custody.) »

via: http://srilankabrief.org/2014/07/sabotage-of-media-workshop-and-death-threats-are-govt-orchestrated-slwja/

« Who Really Killed Mel Gunasekera? » by Nalaka Gunawardene

So it was a known construction worker cum odd job man who killed senior Lankan journalist Mel Gunasekera.

The man, hunted down within the same day Mel was stabbed to death in her suburban home, was apparently familiar with the place and the family’s routine. When she recognised him, burglar had instantly turned killer.

Case closed? Prima facie, it seems so. But in a land where so many crimes are simply not solved and culprits never caught, some can’t believe this swift and efficient crime investigation. Public trust in institutions, once lost, is hard to regain.

Via http://groundviews.org/2014/02/04/who-really-killed-mel-gunasekera/

« Censorship and threat of violence hang over Sri Lanka’s press » by James Crabtree

Sri Lanka’s bloody 25-year civil war earned the south Asian island a reputation as one of the world’s least safe places to be a journalist. Reporters faced extensive censorship and the threat of violence. Today, four years after the final defeat of the Tamil Tiger guerrillas, the government of charismatic, populist president Mahinda Rajapaksa argues that, with wartime restrictions lifted, the media are freer than at any time in a generation.

The reality is more complex. Threats and attacks on journalists continue, while organisations that monitor press freedoms, including the US civil liberties group Freedom House, say Sri Lanka now suffers from a subtler but no less extensive system of media control, marked by occasional violence, widespread intimidation and extensive self-censorship.

Via http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/3012db08-4613-11e3-b495-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2k82Tii5D

source: www.ft.com

 

« Sri Lanka’s Black January: Year two » (cpj.org)

Black January commemorations in Colombo have become an annual event. Tuesday’s demonstration was the second. The protest aims to recall the series of killings and attacks on journalists in Sri Lanka in recent years, many of them occurring in Januaries past. All of them have gone untried and unpunished, sustaining the country’s perfect record of impunity for those who want to silence media by murder.

Via http://cpj.org/blog/2013/01/sri-lankas-black-january-year-two.php