Sri Lanka journalists fear new government crackdown

COLOMBO, June 11, 2014 (AFP) – Sri Lankan media rights activists Wednesday accused the government of a new crackdown against reporters as the country faced a UN-led international war crimes probe. Dozens of pro-government supporters threatened violence and broke up an investigative journalism training workshop at the weekend, said Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) which organised the training.

TISL Senior Manager Shan Wijetunga said 14 Tamil language journalists were forced out of their hotel in Colombo at the weekend and they were warned not to go ahead with the program.

“We had the same training for Sinhalese language journalists and faced no difficulty, but when it comes to the Tamil program, we are threatened with violence and the training is broken up,” Wijetunga told reporters in Colombo.

The local rights group, the Free Media Movement, accused elements of the military of being behind the new wave of intimidation. FMM convenor Sunil Jayasekera said those who protested against TISL workshops accused them of training Tamil reporters to give evidence at a war crimes investigation announced by the UN Human Rights Council on Tuesday.

“This is laughable, these journali