Sri Lankan editor attacked following a series of threats10 Jun, 2016
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate Free Media Movement, Sri Lanka in condemning the attack on an editor on June 2 in Negambo, in eastern Sri Lanka. The IFJ calls for an immediate investigation into the attack and for those responsible to be brought to justice.
Freddy Gamage, the editor of Meepura, a regional web portal, was attacked by two unidentified assailants while walking to his car after covering the monthly meeting of the Negambo Municipal Council on June 2. He was hospitalized after the attack, during which he received a head injury.
Following the incident, Gamage said: “I was walking towards the car, after covering the Municipal Council’s monthly meeting, when I saw two people in a bike near my car, when I gave them a second look, one of them jumped towards me and tried to assault me with a pole, but even though I jumped back, they were able to hit me on the head. As I started running, one of them kept shouting to the other saying ‘hit the fellow.”
Gamage, who is also the Convener of the Web Journalists’ Association, said he had received threats from Dayan Lanza, the Deputy Mayor of Negombo, who had warned him not to write negatively about him and his brother, Nimal Lanza, a Sri Lanka Member of Parliament.
Following, local police arrested two suspects – a municipal council employee and his brother – in connection with the attack. They were remanded and will remain in custody until June 14. The Government of Sri Lanka has condemned the attack saying there was no room for media suppression under the new regime.
The FMM said: “The FMM is concerned over the safety of Gamage, a well known senior web journalist and social activist. The Government needs to initiate an immediate investigation in to the incident and take legal action against the wrongdoers. The Government needs to take strong action to ensure such events do not happen repeatedly affecting the safety of journalists.”
The IFJ said: “The attack on Freddy Gamage is an attack on freedom of expression and press freedom in Sri Lanka. The Sri Lanka government, led by President Sirisena has taken a number of steps to improve the safety of journalists in Sri Lanka, however attacks such as these weaken the progress made. We call on the government to ensure the prosecution of those responsible and to continue working to secure press freedom and journalist safety in Sri Lanka.”