Sri Lanka state TV militarization, official inaction on assaults deplored by rights bodies

Mar 21, 2008 (LBO) – International media rights bodies have deplored the appointment of a retired military general to a Sri Lankan state-run television station whose journalists have been attacked repeatedly without anyone being brought to justice. . The attacks, including knifings, assaults and slashing with razors cropped up after workers of the station held junior labour minister Mervyn Silva hostage when he stormed the newsroom with thugs and assaulted its news editor.

On March 17, police and the army “seized control” of the station, Reporters without Borders (RSF) a Paris-based media rights watchdog said, while workers who were threatening to strike were locked out.

Since them Sunil Silva who RSF said was a “close associate of the presidential family” had been appointed a deputy director general of the station.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) said it was “deeply concerned” over the appointment of an ex-army general. He had served in the army’s communications corps.

RSF said despite President Mahinda Rajapakse meeting union representative no steps have been taken to protect the employees or punish those responsible for five incidents of assault.

Minister Silva had been involved in a further incident