Sri Lanka journalists protest over attacks

July 2, 2008 (AFP) – Hundreds of Sri Lankan reporters and cameramen staged a protest outside President Mahinda Rajapakse’s home Wednesday demanding an end to a wave of killings, abductions and assaults against journalists. Media workers’ associations peacefully demonstrated outside the main access to Rajapakse’s Temple Trees residence while dozens of unarmed police stood behind yellow iron barricades.

“We have two simple demands: We want the killings and assaults to end. We want the government to stop the culture of impunity,” said media rights activist Sunanda Deshapriya.

Journalists covering the government’s escalating war against Tamil Tiger rebels have come under increasing pressure in recent months.

The protest was sparked by the attack Monday on a British embassy political officer, Mahendra Ratnaweera, and independent defence writer Namal Perera, while driving on a busy street in Colombo.

Newspaper publishers Wednesday offered a reward of five million rupees (46,000 dollars) for information leading to arrest of those responsible for the attack.

Perera was the acting director for media rights issues at the Sri Lanka Press Institute and also contributed to the local media writing on defence-rel