IFJ condemns harassment of a provincial journalist by Sri Lankan military

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) along with its affiliate Free Media Movement (FMM) today condemned the detention and harassment of a provincial journalist allegedly by the Sri Lankan military and demanded a formal investigation.

IFJ in a statement said a provincial journalist was detained for hours and threatened by the Sri Lankan military for taking photos and filming video of a public protest at A’lampil in Mullaitivu district, Northern Province on March 18.

According to the Brussels based media right organization, provincial journalist Shanmugam Thavaseelan, 32, of ABC media network was detained for more than two hours by the military and was only released after his newsroom contacted the military spokesperson in capital Colombo. He was in possession of his media card and was covering the public protest against the alleged land grab by the military. While being released, a military officer reportedly threatened him: “We will watch you and get you at the next opportunity.”

“The FMM considers it as an act impeding his professional duties and a threat to freedom of expression. The FMM wishes to stress the fact that it is an obligation of the Sri Lankan Government including the armed forces to create a democratic environment for media personnel to perform their duties without any obstacles,” the FMM said.

The IFJ said it condemns the harassment of a journalist by the Sri Lankan military. “It is a journalist’s duty to cover incidents of public interest, and to expose any wrongdoing by any state agency. It is the duty of the Sri Lankan authorities to ensure safety of journalists as well as provide a conducive environment for free and independent reporting.”

The IFJ urged the Sri Lankan authorities to probe the matter and ensure that such incidents are not repeated in future.”