Sri Lanka anti-media violence undermining democracy: United States

Jan 09, 2009 (LBO) – The United States has strongly condemned the murder of a prominent newspaper editor in Sri Lanka and an attack on a broadcaster saying the violence was undermining democracy and silencing independent voices. Lasantha Wickematunge, editor of The Sunday Leader, a newspaper strongly critical of the government was shot on a main road Thursday morning by armed gunmen who arrived in motorcycles. He died in hospital.

Days earlier, the studios of Maharaja Television, popular broadcaster, was stormed torched and sprayed with bullets by an armed gang, who arrived in a white van.

“These deplorable acts mark the latest in a series of attempts to quell independent voices in Sri Lanka,” US State Deparment deputy spokesman, Robert Wood said in a statement.

“The murder of Lasantha Wickrematunge is a shocking blow to independent media in Sri Lanka.

“The United States is deeply concerned that such attacks undermine efforts to build a united and democratic Sri Lanka where the rights of all people are protected.”

The US statement came as the European Union also condemned the killing.

“Our concerns about the freedom of the media, already under severe pressure from assaults and intimidation, have b