Press freedom in danger? several journalists attacked at night of Mirihana protest

Press freedom in danger? several journalists attacked at night of Mirihana protest

Press freedom in danger? several journalists attacked at night of Mirihana protest

Written by Amani Nilar

02 Apr, 2022 | 11:05 am

COLOMBO (News 1st); Journalist’s associations point out that several journalists who went to report on the protests on 31st March were attacked.

Accordingly, Nissanka Werapitiya, Sumeda Sanjeewa, Pradeep Wickremesinghe, Awanka Kumara, Chathura Deshan, Nisal Baduge, and Waruna Wanniarachchi were among the journalist who were attacked.

Journalist Sumeda Sanjeewa who sustained injuries in the attack was held at the Mirihana Police station until previous afternoon (01).

When inquired, he stated that those in Army uniforms and civil clothing both attacked him, however later on, did not proceed to interrogate him.

The Journalist was later admitted to the Karapitiya Teaching Hospital, while the rest of the arrested protesters were taken to the court complex.

Another Person stated that they were left on the road searching until 4 AM for a journalist of their company who was reportedly being assaulted, and even then, sights of STF personnel shouting in filth and attacking others were seen. 

A wife of a journalist stated that she heard through mobile call that her husband was being attacked, and she alleged that STF personnel demanded through the call as to why she sent her husband to the protest.

However, the Minister of Public Security (Rt.) Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera stated that despite reports, only one journalist was arrested, along with video footage to prove that this journalist hurled stones.

“The journalists are also among the group of protesters. That may be the reason why they were also attacked. But it was reported that there is video footage to prove that the journalist who was arrested had hurled stones,” he said.

Despite the comments made by the Minister of Public Security, SDIG Ajith Rohana, Police Media Spokesperson stated that as subject called riot suppression is taught to almost every police force in the world, when it comes to Public Disorder Management in any country, the same principles are utilized. 

He also said that at a time when there are hundreds of people when police wield shields and batons, they find it difficult to separate people, however, Police have been given clear directives to not to attack any journalists identified.

Although the Police Media Spokesperson stated as such, many journalists reported that while they were attacked, others who arrived later with iron rods and other weapons were not attacked by the Police.

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