Sri Lanka activists organising media boycott of South Asia summit: report

July 6, 2008 (AFP) – Media activists in Sri Lanka are organising a boycott of the upcoming South Asian summit in Colombo in protest at escalating attacks against journalists, a report said Sunday. The Lakbima News weekly said several media outlets had agreed in principle not to cover the August 1 summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), without naming the groups involved.
“A number of local and international media organisations have agreed on the proposal to boycott the coverage of the summit as the Sri Lankan government has not ensured that journalists could perform their duties without hindrance,” it said.
The report came amid mounting international concern for press freedom in the island nation, where government forces have been locked in combat with Tamil separatist rebels for decades.
The United States said Thursday that it had “strong concerns” about Sri Lanka’s deteriorating human rights record and escalating attacks on the local media.
A journalist and a senior officer of the British High Commission were beaten up and their car smashed in the capital on Monday, just six days after Colombo set up a cabinet-level panel to prevent attacks on media personnel.