Journalists abducted in capitalPosted Mar 25 2007
Three journalists were abducted from their homes and offices in Colombo during the first week of February. Nihal Serasinghe, Lalith Seneviratne and Sisira Priyankara, trade union activists affiliated with the Sri Lanka Railway Trade Union, worked for the trade union monthly Akuna. They were taken from different locations between 3 p.m. and 11 p.m. in the capital city on February 5, according to the Asian Human Rights Commission. On Feb. 6 an army spokesman showed journalists at a press conference video in which each of the missing journalists confessed to planning terrorist acts and receiving military training with rebel guerilla fighters the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam or “Tamil Tigers.” The Tamil Tigers are regarded as a terrorist group by many countries. The army spokesman then told the press that the journalists were being held by the Criminal Investigation Department. Reporters Without Borders urged President Mahinda Rajapaksa to see that the journalists are released unharmed. “Confessions recorded in an unknown place by unknown people after arrests that look more like kidnapping have no legal validity,” said Reporters Without Borders. “Police must immediately bring the three journalists before a judge so their testimony can be heard in normal conditions. If the three men are genuinely implicated in the planning of terrorist attacks, they should be tried under the law. If they have been forced to confess under threat, they should immediately be released,” the organization added. Neither the families nor the employers of the three journalists have been able to discover their location, the Asian Human Rights Commission reports. This incident comes after a group of militants headed by Mervyn Silva, deputy minister of labor, attacked a peaceful rally in Colombo in January. The BBC reported that a BBC correspondent and other journalists covering the rally were assaulted during the attack. Another journalist, Munusamy Parameshawary, has been held under the country's anti-terror law for more than 60 days without evidence of her guilt, according to Reporters without Borders.