Sri Lanka urged by Amnesty to end post-poll ‘clampdown’

February 2, 2010 (AFP) – Rights monitor Amnesty International urged Sri Lanka on Tuesday to end what it described as a post-presidential election “clampdown” on the media, political opponents and human rights activists. Pressure on government critics has been mounting since President Mahinda Rajapakse was re-elected on January 26, defeating his former army chief Sarath Fonseka, the London-based human rights group said.

“Victory against the Tamil Tigers followed by a historic election should have ended political repression in Sri Lanka, but instead we have seen a serious clampdown on freedom of expression,” said Madhu Malhotra, Amnesty’s Asia-Pacific Deputy Director.

Amnesty cited the post-poll arrests of opposition supporters and journalists, death threats against several prominent newspaper editors and the harassment of trade unionists.

A pro-opposition newspaper was raided, several websites supporting Fonseka were blocked while Prageeth Eknaligoda, who wrote for the Lanka e-news website, disappeared on his way home from work two days before the election.

Sri Lankan journalists have given Amnesty a list of 56 of their colleagues who face serious threats, including some attached to state-run med