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CID Grills Web Journalists who Opposed Gotabaya and Supported Sajith During Election Campaign: National Movement for Web Journalists Issues Statement Condemning Direct and Indirect Suppression of Media Freedom

(Text of Media release issued by the National Movement for Web Journalists oon 28th November 2019 condemning suppression of web journalists who campaigned for Sajith Premadasa Through Questioning by the CID)

The National Movement for Web Journalists protests the attempt to suppress the media and journalists after the new government was elected who acted in opposition to the incumbent President Gotabhaya Rajapakse during the presidential election which ended shortly.

With the victory of the new president on November 17, 2019, many websites and journalists in Sri Lanka have been subjected to direct and indirect repression. As a result journalists and web site editors campaigning for the victory of Sajith Premadasa during the election and who were against the previous government have been called to the CID.

Dhanushka Sanjaya, who is a news announcer for the “The Leader” internet news service was summoned to the CID and questioned for eight hours. Meantime a police team of 14 police officers has broken into the News Hub web office belonged to the former media minister Patali Champika Ranawaka.

Today 28th the editor of the Voicetube.lk website, Ms. Thushara Vitharana has been summoned to the CID and questioned for about 6 hours. Reports confirm that many more web reporters will be called to the CID in the future. Few days ago a Swiss embassy staff attached to the visa section was abducted and questioned on her way home. These incidents clearly show that state repression has started again.

As an organization that advocates for the freedom of the press, the right to information and freedom of expression, we would like to say that this media repression is not appropriate for a society that protects democracy and human rights. We believe that any civilized society should have the right to alternative voices and fair criticism, and that it would create an independent society that would uphold the rule of law.

Similarly, all citizens of Sri Lanka should have the right to free speech and expression, as guaranteed by Article 14 (1) (a) of the fundamental rights chapter of the second republic constitution of Sri Lanka 1978 and Article 19 of the Convention on Civil and Political Rights. We believe that it is the responsibility of every ruler to protect and balance the constitution which has assigned powers to the executive, legislative and judiciary.

Therefore, we believe the new President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and the new government would stop this media suppression irrespective of party politics and respect freedom of speech, fair criticism, democracy, good governance, rule of law and media freedom.