Sri Lankan media faces increasing harassment

March 23, 2008 (LBO) – The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a media freedom watchdog, has written to Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapakse urging him to probe a recent spate of attacks on journalists and ensure their protection. The New Yorkbased, independent, non-profit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide, said in a statement that it was “concerned by ongoing intimidation” of Sri Lanka’s media.

“Recent events in the state-run Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation in Colombo and the treatment of Tamil journalists under investigation by the Terrorist Investigation Division both reveal how press workers face increasing threat of restriction under your government,” the CPJ said in a letter to Rajapakse.

Rupavahini employees reported a spate of attacks that began after many were involved in a much-publicized on-air dispute in December 2007 with Labour Minister Mervyn Silva.

Silva sparked a disturbance when he arrived at the station with a group of men to complain that the station hadn’t covered one of his speeches.

He also assaulted the TV station’s news director, prompting enraged staff to hold him hostage and broadcast the entire event live nationwide.

Since then, five Rupavahini s