Sri Lanka - Journalists on public TV allowed to resume work, under the orders of army general



    MONTREAL, March 20 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders noted on
20 March the withdrawal of security forces from the premises of state-run Sri
Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC), allowing journalists to resume work.
    The police and army seized control of the corporation on 17 March and
locked out staff that had been planning strike action in protest against a
series of politically-motivated assaults against the corporation's employees.
    The worldwide press freedom organisation however deplored the appointment
of retired general, Sunil Silva, a close associate of the presidential family,
as deputy general director of the SLRC, a post especially created for him.
    "This appointment of a military figure as a media head, unprecedented for
decades, will obstruct presidential plans for the state-run press" it added.
    Despite President Mahinda Rajapakse's meeting with corporation
representatives no steps have been taken to protect employees or to punish
those responsible for five physical assaults on staff attributed to henchmen
of Labour Minister, Mervyn Silva.
    The minister was involved in a further incident on 19 March, when he
threatened a crew from Sirasa TV, which was covering the construction of a
bridge in Kelaniya, near Colombo.
    "This time I am just lifting a finger, but next time I will lift my hand,
if you come back," the minister shouted at the journalists. The head of Sirasa
TV has reported the incident to the Inspector General of Police, Victor
Perrera.
    Mervyn Silva has a history of open hostility towards journalists and led
a brutal raid against SLRC staff on 27 December 2007




For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, secretary general,
Reporters Without Borders, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4208, Fax: (514)
521-7771, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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