Home Page > News Item > SRI LANKA – Prageeth Ekanaliyagoda disappeared 24 January 2010

ON THIS DAY ……

A series of actions commemorating writers and journalists killed or disappeared in recent years as part of PEN International’s focus on Killings with Impunity in 2012

Two years ago, on 24 January 2010, Pregeeth Ekanaliyagoda was abducted and has not been heard from since. No thorough and credible investigation into his case has been made and his wife has received no response to her repeated requests for information about her husband’s fate. It is widely believed that pro-government forces are responsible for his disappearance. Today journalists and writers in Sri Lanka continue to be targeted with apparent impunity for their dissenting views. PEN is urging the authorities to take immediate action to ensure all crimes against journalists, including Pregeeth Ekanaliyagoda, are vigorously investigated and those responsible brought to justice. It urges further that the Sri Lankan authorities to abide by their obligations to the international treaties protecting free expression, in particular Article 19 of the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Sri Lanka is a state party.

Political analyst, journalist and visual designer for the Lanka eNews, Pregeeth Ekanaliyagoda was last seen leaving his office on the evening of 24 January 2010. It is widely believed that he was abducted and killed by pro-government forces for his open support of the opposition during Sri Lanka’s 2010 presidential elections. Government sources have denied the allegation. Ekanaliyagoda is a leading columnist, and published articles in support of the defeated opposition candidate General Sarath Fonseka ahead of the Sri Lankan presidential elections that took place on 26 January 2010. The Lanka eNews website was reportedly blocked during the elections, and its offices were searched by unidentified individuals on 28 January 2010. Previously, on 27 August 2009, Ekanaliyagoda had been abducted and held blindfolded overnight, and was released after being told that he was not the correct target. Family and colleagues have expressed increasing concern that the authorities have done very little to investigate Pregeeth Ekanaliyagoda’s disappearance, and they fear for his safety.

Background

Journalists, writers and media outlets commonly suffer intimidation and violence in Sri Lanka, a situation which has continued in spite of commitments to protect freedom of expression by President Mahinda Rajapaksa. After twenty-five years of conflict between the Sri Lankan army and the Tamil Tigers, victory over the Tigers was declared by President Mahinda Rajapaksa on 16 May 2009. Rajapaksa went on to win a landslide victory in the presidential elections of 26 January 2010. However the outcome was rejected by many, including his main opposition rival and former army chief General Sarath Fonseka. General Fonseka was arrested on 8 February 2010 on charges of conspiracy, and convicted several months later. In April 2010, Rajapaksa’s ruling coalition won an overwhelming majority in parliamentary elections. Later in the year, MPs passed a constitutional amendment allowing President Rajapaksa to stand for unlimited terms in office. Since the end of the war the state of free expression in Sri Lanka is widely believed to have deteriorated, with increased state control enabling in a ‘culture of terror’ to flourish in the country which has resulted in widespread self-censorship and many journalists fleeing.

TAKE ACTION

Please send appeals:
Expressing dismay that two years after abduction of journalist Pregeeth Ekanaliyagoda, his whereabouts are still unknown and there has been no credible investigation into case;

Expressing serious concern for the safety of journalists and writers in Sri Lanka, and calling on the authorities to take all necessary measures to protect those who are being targeted with apparent impunity solely for their critical writings, in accordance with Article 19 of the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Sri Lanka is a state party;

Press and publicity
Urging PEN members to write articles in their local press highlighting the deteriorating state of free expression in Sri Lanka.

Appeals to:
His Excellency the President Mahinda Rajapaksa
Presidential Secretariat
Colombo 1
Sri Lanka
Fax: +94 11 2446657
Email: secretary@presidentsoffice.lk
Salutation: Your Excellency

Mr. Mohan Peiris
Attorney General
Attorney General’s Department,
Colombo 12,
SRI LANKA
Fax: +94 11 2 436421

H. M. G. S. Palihakkara
Ambassador
Permanent Mission of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka to the United Nations
#630, 3rd Avenue (20th Floor)
New York 10017
United States America
mail@slmission.com
Fax +1 (212) 986-1838

Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Sri Lanka in your country if possible.

For further information please contact Cathy McCann at International PEN Writers in Prison Committee, Brownlow House, 50/51 High Holborn, London WC1V 6ER, Tel.+ 44 (0) 20 7405 0338, Fax: +44 (0) 20 7405 0339, email: cathy.mccann@pen-international.org

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