Editor murdered, another assaultedPosted Jan 30 2009
Four men on motorcycles attacked Upali Tennakoon, editor of Reporters on the Rivira, and his wife in Colombo on Jan. 23. It is the latest in a series of attacks on journalists in the wake of fierce fighting that continues between troops and rebels in northeast Sri Lanka.
Officials told the BBC that the four men blocked Tennakoon's car and attacked the couple with iron rods and other weapons.
Rivira is not considered a pro-government or pro-rebel newspaper and the government has condemned the attack and promised a full investigation, according to a BBC report.
The attack comes two weeks after Lasantha Wickramatunga, editor of the Sunday Leader, was shot dead by unknown assailants in Colombo on Jan. 8. Wickramatunga was a leading critic of the government and had written his own obituary in premonition of his killing, the BBC reported. The obituary appeared in the Sunday Leader and was titled “And then they came for me.”
Amnesty International reported in November that at least 10 media employees had been killed in Sri Lanka since 2006. Some reporters say the situation has gotten worse as the war with the Tamil Tigers intensifies.
A private media station, MTV-MBC, was ransacked two days before Wickramatunga's murder. Lankadissent, a pro-opposition publication, closed operations on the same day he was killed.
Saroj Pathirana, of BBC Sinhala, reports that a number of experienced journalists are either thinking of or have already left the country because of threats to their lives. Many students say they fear taking up journalism as a career choice in the island nation while others say that the recent spate of threats and attacks has inspired them to expose the truth about the war and threats to the media.
Reporters Without Borders has called on authorities to take steps to end the prevailing hostility caused by “government cronies increasing their pressure.”
In a Jan. 21 report, the International Press Freedom Mission condemned the Sri Lankan government’s “inaction and failure” in taking serious action against attacks on reporters.