The Sri Lankan Free Media Movement are declaring today, the 25th, the day of mourning for "Black January" to mark the many journalists and media organisations who were attacked, murdered, or closed down in the month of January.
In particular the group are highlighting the death of Lasantha Wickermatunga, the disapperence of Prageeth Ekneligoda and the burning down of Lanka e-News.
Supported by the International Federation of Journalists(IFJ),the campaign is a response to the attacks on the media that have occurred in the month of January in the past three years, and the failure of the government of Sri Lanka to bring to account those responsible for attacks on numerous journalists.
These attacks include the murder of Sunday Leader editor, Lasantha Wickrematungain 2009, the disappearance of political columnist Prageeth Ekneligoda in 2010, the attack on Sirasa media network in 2009 and the brutal attack on television producerLal Hemantha Mawalage in 2008.
In recent years, the month of January has also witnessed the murder of Tamil parliamentarian T Maheshwaran, the abduction of Akuna journalists Sisira Priyankara, Nihal Serasinghe and Lalith Seneviratne and the former army commander Sarath Fonseka’s characterisation of certain journalist as “traitors”.
On January 25, journalists and media workers all over the world will unite in observance of ‘Black January’, culminating in a series of public protests in Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo.
The IFJ is reminding the Government of Sri Lanka of its deeply disturbing record of default in bringing to account individuals, state agencies and non-state actors who increasingly make journalism and the dissemination of information for the wider public good, a deeply hazardous pursuit.
“The violence against journalists in Sri Lanka and the continuing disregard by the government of Sri Lanka in addressing these crimes is unacceptable”, IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.
“The IFJ urges concrete action by authorities in Sri Lanka to take heed of today’s ‘Black January’ protests and address acts of violence against journalists and media workers”