English PEN is deeply concerned for the well-being of columnist Pregeeth Ekanaliyagoda (also spelt Prageeth Eknaligoda), who has been missing since 24 January 2010. We fear that pro-government forces may be responsible for his disappearance, and are calling for a thorough investigation into his case as a matter of urgency.
According to our information, political analyst, journalist and visual designer for the Lanka eNews, Pregeeth Ekanaliyagoda, disappeared on 24 January 2010 and his whereabouts remain unknown. He was last seen leaving his office that evening, and there are fears that he has been abducted by pro-government forces. However, government sources have denied the allegation.
Ekanaliyagoda is a leading columnist, and reportedly published articles in favour of the defeated opposition candidate General Sarath Fonseka ahead of the Sri Lankan presidential elections that took place on 26 January. The Lanka eNews website was reportedly blocked during the elections, and the 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 greatly fear for his safety.
On 29 January 2010, Chandana Sirimalwatte, editor of the Lanka newspaper, was arrested under the country’s emergency regulations and held for eighteen days, apparently for articles critical of the government. He was released without charge on 16 February 2010.
PEN is alarmed that journalists in Sri Lanka continue to be targeted for their dissenting views, and urges further 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.
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. On 9 February 2010 Mahinda Rajapaksa dissolved the Sri Lankan Parliament and called for fresh elections which are expected to be held on 8 April 2010. General Fonseka was arrested on 8 February 2010, on charges of conspiracy.
For further information:
BBC’s country profile
Sri Lanka Guardian, piece by Hemali Abeyratne, Chandana Sirimalwatte’s wife (11 February 2010)
Asian Human Rights Commission appeal
Please send appeals:
Expressing serious concern for the welfare of journalist Pregeeth Ekanaliyagoda, and urging a full, prompt and impartial investigation into his disappearance;
Calling on the Sri Lankan authorities to take urgent measures to ensure the safety of journalists and protect freedom of expression, in accordance with Article 19 of the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Sri Lanka is a state party.
His Excellency the President Mahinda Rajapaksa
Fax: 94 11 2446657
Email: [email protected]
Salutation: Your Excellency
Mr. Mohan Peiris
Attorney General’s Department,
Fax: 94 11 2 436421
H. M. G. S. Palihakkara
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
Fax 1 (212) 986-1838
Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Sri Lanka in your country if possible:
His Excellency Justice Nihal Jayasinghe
High Commission of Sri Lanka
No.13, Hyde Park Gardens
Fax: 020 7262 7970
Email: [email protected]
Originally posted with the url: www.englishpen.org/writersinprison/prisoners/prageetheknaligodasrilanka/