Sri Lanka minister storms state tv; news director assaulted

Dec 27, 2007 (LBO) – A Sri Lankan junior government minister stormed into the state-owned Rupavahini television station with armed thugs and assaulted its news director a short while ago, journalists said Thursday.

International media rights organization have described Sri Lanka as the third most dangerous place for journalists in the world after Iraq and Somalia after seven mediamen were killed last year.

Updated The attack by Mervyn Silva, a government politician with a penchant for intimidating journalists, prompted the entire staff of the station to stop work and stage a strike in protest against the violence.

“About 10.05 a.m. Mervyn Silva and his goons came to the Rupavahini newsroom and accused me of not airing a news item about himself,” T M G Chandrasekera, director news of Rupavahini, who was the victim of the assault told LBO.

“He grabbed me by the neck and dragged me to the chairman’s office where he assaulted me. I managed to escaped outside but a thug grabbed me and assaulted me again.”

Chandrasekera told LBO he was on his way to the police to lodge a complaint.

He said Rupavahini employees had prevented the armed thugs from leaving the premises.

Police hav