Sri Lanka army intimidates media over shooting: rights group

COLOMBO, August 18, 2013 (AFP) – A Sri Lankan media rights group on Sunday accused the military of intimidating journalists who reported a deadly army crackdown on villagers protesting at contaminated water supplies. Residents of Weliweriya, the village 20 kilometers (12 miles) northeast of Colombo, have also told Sri Lanka’s Human Rights Council of their fear of intimidation following army summonses to give evidence, local media reports said Sunday.

The US and the European Union have condemned the August 1 shooting and called for a speedy civilian inquiry to prosecute those responsible.

The incident comes ahead of a visit next week by UN human rights chief Navi Pillay, who has demanded an international probe into alleged war crimes by Sri Lankan forces during the final stages of a war against Tamil rebels in 2009. The army has been come under pressure after soldiers fired on unarmed locals on August 1 in a village outside Colombo, killing three, as they protested against a factory which they say polluted their ground water.

The Free Media Movement (FMM) said the army summoned reporters, photographers and video persons to give evidence as part of a military investigation into the incident.

“Summon