Call to free detained journalists in Sri Lanka

Feb 7, 2007 (AFP) – International media rights groups have demanded the release of three Sri Lankan journalists who went missing earlier this week in the capital Colombo. Media organisations have described Sri Lanka as one of the most dangerous places for journalists in South Asia. The Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) urged President Mahinda Rajapakse to give “unequivocal orders for three journalists and trade union activists, kidnapped in Colombo on Monday, to be found and released unharmed.”

The three men — who were working for a railway trade union monthly, the Akuna, or thunder — were abducted by unidentified men late Monday, police said.

State-run media said the men, all members of the majority Sinhalese community, were believed to have received weapons training from the rebel Tamil Tigers. The men were described in the reports as “terrorist suspects”.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists also demanded the release of the three men, saying they could be in “government custody.”

“We fear for the safety of the three missing newspaper staff members, and we call on the government to publicly disclose any information regarding