Reporters Without Borders


Sri Lanka
The Rajapakse clan

Defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse, younger brother of President Mahina Rajapakse, is not the only clan member openly hostile to press freedom. On 19 July 2011 the president personally issued a threat by telephone to Lal Wickrematunge, editor of The Sunday Leader newspaper after it published an article reporting embezzlement by the president and his son Namal Rajapakse, a member of parliament.

Violence, threats, censorship and propaganda aimed at journalists and press freedom defenders continue. On 29 July 2011 in Jaffna, Gnanasundaram Kuhanathan, editor of the Tamil-language newspaper Uthayan, was attacked by assailants wielding iron bars. The assault has gone unpunished.

Access to the main websites providing information critical of the government or the Rajapakse brothers, including LankaeNews, SriLankaMirror, SriLankaGuardian, Papracigossip9 and LankaWayNews, was blocked in October and November 2011.

In response to the 19th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on 27 February 2012, the ruling clan unleashed a fierce hate campaign against exile media and human rights defenders. Journalists were attacked by the Rajapakse government as terrorists and traitors for reporting on Council activities, for joining in the “Black January” media defence campaign, and writing about the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission. The government carried out its campaign through official media such as the Lake House newspaper chain, the Independent Television Network (ITN Ltd) and the daily Dinamina.

The government’s media policy is fully apparent from the violence, threats and propaganda directed at journalists and free-press defenders during the first two months of 2012 alone.

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