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Press Release

27 October 2011

FMM concerned at death threats against TNL Chairman, GM


The Free Media Movement (FMM) is deeply concerned about the death threats made against TNL Chairman Shan Wickremesinghe and its General Manager Sudath Jayasundara, by individuals having close connections and business links with the government hierarchy and demand that the authorities conduct a proper, in-depth investigation into the incident and bring the culprits to book. Wickremesinghe is respected media personnel and is credited with introducing television to Sri Lanka. Subjecting such a person to death threats and verbal abuse is contemptible and is a further indication of the perils faced by the media industry, in an environment where media freedom is under serious threat. Wickremesinghe, in a complaint lodged with the police, has identified a recent programme aired by Isira Radio, exposing the connection between the drop in the share market and the drug mafia in the country, as the most probable reason for the death threats. Isira Radio is part of the TNL network and has earned the respect of the media fraternity for frequently taking up for debate contentious issues that are of public concern. Subsequent to the airing of the programme, a number of prominent business persons with well established connections to the government had contacted Wickremesinghe and Jayasundara over the phone, criticized the programme and threatened to kill them for airing it. Given the deteriorating media freedom situation in the country where notorious politicians, high profile government officials and various state- sponsored elements have carried out a number of attacks against media personnel and media houses in the past, it is alarming to note that even the private sector institutions and their top officials who have business and other links with the government, have resorted to using terror tactics to keep the media subjugated and docile. The FMM believes the government attempts to suppress media freedom and the prevailing culture of impunity in the country where the culprits are often given state patronage, has paved the way for situations such as death threats against media personnel by those affiliated to the government hierarchy. The situation, the FMM believes, has also been exacerbated by the failure or unwillingness of law enforcement officials to properly investigate past attacks against media or to bring culprits to book. The FMM while condemning the incident, demands that authorities conduct a proper investigation into this incident and ensure that neither Shan Wickremesinghe nor Sudath Jayasundara are harmed or subjected to further threats.
Sunil Jayasekara Convene Hana Ibrahim Secretary

Convener - Sunil Jayasekara - +94 777751092 Secretary Hana Ibrahim - +94 777412995 Treasurer Sujeeva Senarath- + 94 777073435 C/o SLPI, No 96, Kirula Road, Colombo 05. Tel: +94 115675906 Fax: +94 112573279 Email : fmmsrilanka@gmail.com http//freemediasrilanka.worldpress.com