Attacks on Media
Sri Lanka: We strongly condemn the attack on the peaceful protest! Let’s rally for democratic governance!! – Free Media Movement12 May, 2022
The Free Media Movement condemns the brutal attack on protesters near Temple Trees and ‘Gotagogama’, and considers these attacks which have been orchestrated by government supporters who were leaving the PM’s official residence after attending a meeting convened by the PM, as a heinous crime against humanity. The Free Media Movement strongly condemn the government and the Sri Lanka Police for not taking action to prevent such a devastation.
The police that were quick to set up sharp iron-welded dangerous and fatal roadblocks recently to prevent demonstrators marching in solidarity to the peaceful struggle, but decided not to take any action to prevent the violent unruly mob from attacking and unleashing violence at the peaceful protesters at Galle Face. This reveals the organized nature of the attack in connivance with the top officials of the decaying Rajapaksa regime.
Violent and unruly supporters of the government attacked and injured a large number of persons involved in the peaceful protest, causing extensive property damage. Journalists were among the injured, and it is reported that the assailants specifically targeted and attacked journalists. The clergy and women have also been severely attacked. According to the information received, large number of people have been hospitalized after the attacks. It is also reported that the perpetrators of these violent acts had gone to the Prime Minister’s House for lunch after the attack, which will remain as a despicable incident in the history of Sri Lanka.
The peaceful protest, which lasted for 30 days demanding the resignation of the President, the Prime Minister and the Rajapaksa regime, was a significant milestone in the history of agitations and protests in Sri Lanka and was greatly supported and blessed by the religious community, the professional community including the legal professionals and the general public. It also received special attention and accolades internationally. In particular, it was hailed by many as a model for non-violent, creative expression of dissent. The media community, including the Free Media Movement, also collectively supported the struggle. The Free Media Movement respectfully recalls that this peaceful struggle prevented the agitation of the masses, who were suffering immense economic and social oppression, from escalating into violence.
The Free Media Movement acknowledges all those who have been attacked, harassed and affected while engaging in a peaceful struggle using the fundamental right to freedom of expression in order to liberate Sri Lanka from the miserable fate that has befallen under the Rajapaksa family and appeal to all citizens who respect freedom and democracy and to international human rights defenders to rally against this heinous crime.
The Free Media Movement calls on all stakeholders engaged in the People’s Struggle to remain steadfast to defend the non-violent and democratic values that have so far been practiced and to work towards achieving the objective of the struggle in the face of this brutal response.
The Free Media Movement urges civil society and all political parties to work collectively to end this ruthless regime and re-establish a democratic system of governance.
Lasantha De Silva