South Asian Free Media Association

(SAFMA) - Sri Lanka Chapter
Media Release - Attack on Siyatha studios

Affirming Sri Lanka’s reputation for violence against the media
The Sri Lanka Chapter of the South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) condemns the dastardly attack on the news section of Siyatha, one of Sri Lanka’s most popular and diversified television and radio stations. In the early hours of today, 30th July, 2010, an armed gang intruded into the premises of the studio complex, even as broadcast operations were ongoing, and proceeded to bomb and otherwise damage the facilities and equipment, resulting in severe infra-structure damage and injury and traumatising of media personnel. SAFMA-Sri Lanka, whose parent is recognised by the SAARC Secretariat as the body for mass media professionals in the South Asian region, deeply regrets the continuation of this tragic pattern that has persisted in the country for over two decades. While almost all of the numerous other attacks on media institutions and enterprises that have occurred in the past 20 years and more have gone unsolved, SAFMA calls on the law and order authorities to act quickly to investigate this crime and violation of democratic rights and bring the culprits to book. Given that none of the numerous previous such incidents have been successfully investigated; the onus is on our agencies of law and order and national security to disprove the growing reputation of this country of consistent failure to investigate and resolve such crimes. This latest attack can only confirm the perception of the outside world that despite the valour of our heroic armed forces and agencies of law and order in suppressing insurgencies and rebellions, much of the crimes committed outside insurgent activity, especially attacks on the vital institutions of Democracy such as the mass media, go unresolved. How is it that seemingly ‘powerful terrorists’ have been vanquished, but other perpetrators of barbaric violence, especially violence against those sectors monitoring governance, such as the media, have been roaming the country for the past twenty years and more without detection and conviction? Is this a manifestation of abject professional failure and incompetence on the part of the agencies of law and order or, is it a deliberate discrimination between those anti-social elements who attack the State and those who attack civilian sectors of Sri Lanka society? If Sri Lankan citizens are to continue to have faith in the agencies of Law and Order and not seek intervention by international institutions such as the United Nations, it is time that the authorities prove their mettle by responding quickly and efficiently in the case of Siyatha.

Sharmini Boyle Secretary - SAFMA Sri Lanka.

Secretariat, A3-1/2, Manning Town, Colombo - 8, Sri Lanka Phone / Fax: 011 2684557 Email: safmasrilanka@gmail.com Website: southasianmedia.net

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